Decisions You'll Make

Planning a funeral for a loved one is one of life’s rituals that almost all of us will encounter at some point in our lives. You may feel deep sadness as you plan this funeral but creating a meaningful tribute for someone who meant so much to your own life can help put you on the path to healing.

As you consider the various aspects of a funeral for a burial or cremation, there are several elements that you will need to select in order to create a touching tribute for your loved one. Here we have outlined some of the choices you will make as you move through the planning process.

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Learn more about the choices that are part of a meaningful funeral by clicking on the tabs above.

Casket

The Casket

The casket typically becomes the visual and emotional focal point of the funeral service, and just as important, serves as the final resting place for your loved one. The casket you choose can be more than just a burial vessel – it can become a touching reminder of all that made your loved one special. When selecting a casket, the first decision is typically the casket material – wood or metal.

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Burial Vaults

Burial vaults enclose the casket when it is placed at the gravesite and are designed to prevent the weight of soil and heavy equipment from damaging the casket. Burial vaults are available in a variety of materials including metal, concrete and composite materials. Your local funeral professional  can help you select the correct vault for your needs.

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Cemetery Space

Traditionally, families have chosen to bury their loved ones in a cemetery or place the casket in an above-ground structure called a mausoleum. Often families choose a nearby cemetery because it allows them to visit the gravesite as often as they like. This helps them continue to feel close to the person who died, while still acknowledging the death. If you haven’t already purchased a cemetery plot or mausoleum space, your funeral director can help you make a purchase appropriate for your needs.

Grave Marker and Flower

Monuments & Grave Markers

Also called headstones, grave markers are used in cemeteries to memorialize and identify the gravesite of the person who has died. You may want to personalize the grave marker by including a poem, a drawing or a short phrase that defines the person who died. Monuments and grave markers are available in a variety of materials, including natural stone, concrete and bronze. Styles can range from very simple to ornate, as single markers or companion monuments.

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Cremation Caskets or Containers

The casket or container is the resting place that gives dignity to your loved one. Cremation caskets are made of wood and available in a wide variety of styles that are suitable for services with a visitation, viewing or gathering held prior to the cremation. Cremation containers are made from both composite and solid wood components and are fully combustible. These are most appropriate when a private viewing has been scheduled.

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Memorial Urns

The urn or personalized memorial will become the final resting place for your loved one and it typically complements the final placement.

Urns Can Be Used For...

  • Burial
    Burial provides a permanent place for future visitation. Depending on the type of urn being buried, you may also be required to use an urn vault. Grave markers or monuments and cemetery plots are also items you will need to consider when planning a cremation burial.
  • Niche
    A niche is a recessed compartment typically found in a columbarium or mausoleum to hold an urn. A variety of urn styles can be placed in a niche.
  • Ceremonial Scattering
    Scattering is a symbolic release of your loved one back into the world. This can be done in a variety of ways. Biodegradable and/or lightweight urns can help facilitate this type of disposition.
  • Home Display
    You may want to memorialize your loved one in your home after cremation. Many urn styles are available that provide a touching and discreet way to hold the memory of your loved one close.
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Urn Vaults

Urn vaults enclose the urn when it is placed at the gravesite and are designed to prevent the weight of soil and heavy equipment from damaging the urn and for environmental protection.

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Keepsake Urns

Keepsake urns are smaller versions of full-size urns and are manufactured to hold a small portion of cremated remains, a lock of hair or ceremonial flowers. Keepsake urns allow you to share your loved one’s cremated remains with family and close friends.

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Remembrance Jewelry

Designed to hold a small portion of cremated remains, a lock of hair, flower petals, or earth from the gravesite, keepsake jewelry is a unique and elegant way to hold a loved one close with a fashionable and lasting remembrance. Available in men’s and women’s styles, consider selecting a matching piece for family members or friends to share a special and lasting bond.

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Online Memorials

When someone we love dies, we often feel the need to share their story and the story of our loss with family, friends and our extended communities. Memorializing loved ones through interactive webpages that house online video tributes and collect guestbook entries from family and friends is a service that many funeral homes offer.

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Video Tributes

A video tribute is a unique way to personalize a memorial service – giving you and your family the opportunity to pause and reflect on the life of the person you knew and loved. These touching montages can consist of music, photos, memorabilia, or newspaper articles that take viewers through the life of the person who has died.

Your video tribute can be played during the funeral service, during a visitation, or at any other time you and your funeral service professional decide upon. Many funeral homes can also post your video tribute to their website so that others can view it at any time. Tributes can also be made into DVDs or saved electronically for your family to keep. Your funeral home may offer this service or can recommend a local vendor who specializes in this area.

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Keepsake Books

Friends and relatives often share memories, stories, photos and condolences in guest books, both at the funeral and on the funeral home’s website. At the funeral, invite people to write down a memory of the person who died. Ask children if they would like to write a letter or draw a picture for the person. Many funeral homes offer keepsake book publishing services that collect and document these important memories.

Living Memorial

Batesville’s Living Memorial® Program is a unique and special way to honor the memory of a loved one. When you select a Batesville® burial product or cremation product, arrangements are made for a tree seedling to be planted as a living tribute–at no additional cost to you.

Seedlings are planted in national forests in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, The Canadian Forestry Association, The Grand River Conservation Foundation, and other international organizations to re-establish woodlands destroyed by forest fires, blight and other natural disasters. You will receive a special letter that verifies a tree has been planted where the need is greatest.

Download Our Complete Planning Guide

This guide will walk you through the information you will need and the decision you will need to make.  Complete this prior to the arrangement conference or as part of your pre-need planning and share it with your funeral director.

Selecting the Final Resting Place

Where your loved one will be laid to rest is an important decision. Whether you choose burial or cremation, you can use elements of ceremony to honor the life of your loved one and to allow you and your family to say goodbye in a meaningful way.

   Final Resting Place
Burial
Cremation
Service
Description
   Cemetery
Land specifically designated as a burial ground
   Mausoleum
Above-ground entombment, usually in the form of a building
   Niche 
Enclosed space designed to hold a container of crematedremains – most often located in a mausoleum, cemetery or church
   Home 
A commemorative urn or other container of cremated remains displayed in a place of honor in the home or garden
   Scattering 
Cremated remains returned to the Earth (scattering over a favorite spot, such as a garden, lake or private property)

What Type Of Service Should We Have?

Some people think that funerals must conform to traditional ways, but there is no one right way to have a funeral.

You can choose from a variety of funeral service types and formats. Just as grief has many dimensions and is experienced in different ways by different people, funerals are also unique. A funeral should simply be fitting for the person who died and the family and friends who survive him. This is an opportunity to be creative and to share an honest expression of your most heartfelt values. There are no rigid rules that need to be followed, but there are guidelines that can help you if you are unsure how you might proceed.

  • Traditional Funeral Service
    A service is held in the presence of the body, with either an open or closed casket. A member of the clergy usually officiates, and the service is held within two or three days of the death. A visitation period often precedes the funeral. The service is usually held in a church or funeral home chapel. There is usually a religious message to the ceremony. The specific denomination’s (Protestant, Catholic, etc.) book of worship determines the elements of ritual used. The ceremony itself often consists of scripture readings, prayers, a eulogy, sometimes a sermon, usually interspersed with music and hymns. After the funeral, there may be a procession to the gravesite or crematory chapel, where a brief committal service concludes the ceremony. When planning a funeral, the family decides whether the service will be public or private.
  • Memorial Service
    A memorial service is held without the body present (though the cremated remains may be present in an urn). Disposition of the body may take place either before or after the service. Some memorial services are not held until weeks or months after the death. The services may be religious or non-religious. There are many different types of memorial services, and they may be held in funeral homes, churches, private homes, community rooms or outdoors.A memorial service may be held instead of a funeral, or in addition to it. For example, you might have a funeral in the town where a person lived most of her life and ultimately died, and a memorial service at a later time in the community where she was raised. As with a more traditional funeral service, the final form of disposition of the body may be either earth burial or cremation.
  • Affirmation or Celebration of Life Service
    More and more today, terms like affirmation or celebration of life are being used to describe funeral services. Such services vary widely in content and format, but they tend to be more personalized and more upbeat. The body may or may not be present. They can be religious or non-religious and they can be held almost anywhere. The only rule seems to be that no rules apply!
  • Humanist Service
    Humanists embrace a secular view of life. Generally they do not believe in God but instead focus on man’s joyful, yet flawed (and brief) existence here on Earth. The humanist funeral service is non-religious, but still seeks to acknowledge the life and death of the person who died. It also seeks to comfort survivors and help them support one another. As with all other general service types, the humanist funeral service tends to include readings, music and memory sharing. The readings and music emphasize life here on earth and do not imply there is life beyond the grave.
  • Committal Service
    The committal (or commitment) service is held at the gravesite before the body or urn is buried, or in the chapel of a crematory prior to cremation. The committal is usually in addition to a funeral or memorial service and is the occasion at which those in attendance say their last goodbyes. In cases of body burial, the committal service is usually held immediately following the funeral service. In cases when cremation follows the funeral service, the final committal may take place several days later at the cemetery, columbarium or scattering site. The committal service is often brief.However, if this is the only service to be held (in this case it is often referred to as graveside services), this service may be more lengthy and include additional ceremonial elements. For example, memories may be expressed (through a eulogy or less formal sharing of memories), music may be played, and readings such as poetry may be included. As an action of final goodbye, some people may want to place a flower or handful of dirt on the casket. Some family members may want to stay and help fill in the grave, while others may prefer not. Children often find committal services helpful in that they are able to see where the body goes. Should your family make use of cremation, it can still be helpful to create some form of a committed ceremony around the cremated remains, whether you bury them, place them in a niche in a columbarium, scatter them or take them home.
  • Home Funeral Service
    While this idea is relatively new, it is gaining attention. People are starting to choose to have funerals for their loved ones within their homes, sometimes for economic or environmental reasons. It also provides a more hands-on, unique way to create a funeral. A home funeral guide can be hired to help coordinate the ceremony. While where you can bury a body is limited from state to state (a few do allow burial on private land), there are few restrictions to having a home ceremony. To learn more, visit the following websites: www.homefuneral.info, www.homefuneraldirectory.com, www.homefuneralalliance.org.

Creating Meaningful Funeral Ceremonies: A Guide for Families

This compassionate, friendly workbook affirms the importance of the personalized funeral ritual and helps families create a ceremony that will be both healing and meaningful for years to come. Designed to complement the role of the clergy, celebrant and funeral director in the funeral planning process, A Guide for Families walks readers through the many decisions they will make at the time of a death.