Cremation rates have been on the rise in the United States for many years, with the rates reaching all the way to 57.5 percent in 2021. By 2025, that rate is expected to climb to 64.1 percent. With the cremation rate continuing to rise, it’s becoming more and more common for funeral homes to be holding funerals for loved ones who will be cremated. But how does funeral planning work when your loved one will be cremated?
Can my loved one be cremated after a funeral service?
A common misconception exists that says that you can’t have a funeral service if your loved one is going to be cremated. However, this belief is false. Cremation does not preclude a funeral service. Your plans for your loved one’s service do not have to change due to cremation. You can still have a traditional funeral, if you so choose, where your loved one is present prior to their cremation.
When making plans for your loved one’s funeral, talk to your funeral director about wanting the funeral before their cremation takes place. You may have either an open or closed casket funeral, and you may not even need to purchase a casket. Many funeral homes offer families the ability to rent a casket for the length of the funeral because your loved one will not then be buried in the casket. You may also hold additional services before the cremation, such as a viewing or visitation.
Similar to how a burial may happen directly after the funeral, your funeral director can work with a crematory to ensure that cremation occurs right after the funeral service. The funeral home may have their own crematory on-site, making this planning process simpler, or they may work with a respected third-party cremation provider. In the case of working with a different provider, the funeral director will also organize transportation for your loved one to their cremation.
Even if you held a funeral before your loved one’s cremation, you might still want additional services. You may opt for a committal service, which is when your loved one’s cremated remains are either buried or interred in a columbarium. Or you may want a scattering ceremony, where your loved one’s ashes are spread in a location that meant a great deal to them in life. These services are often smaller than a funeral. They allow for close family and friends to say a last goodbye to a loved one as they’re placed in their final resting place.
What if my loved one is cremated before the funeral service?
Some people opt for direct cremation before a funeral service, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a service at all. Although you can’t have a funeral with a casket present or a viewing, you can still have a memorial service after the cremation.
Because a funeral with a decedent present usually has to happen within a certain amount of time, having a memorial service after cremation affords families more time to plan. Memorial services can happen on the same day as a cremation, but they don’t have to be. Some people prefer to take more time to plan the service, and it’s not uncommon for a memorial service to happen weeks or even months after cremation.
A memorial service can function similarly to a funeral service. You can still have all the aspects of a funeral you may want, such as a eulogy, but the only difference will be that your loved one may be present in an urn, as opposed to being there in a casket. Your family can then choose how they’d like to store or scatter the cremated remains.
Whether you’d like a funeral before cremation or a memorial service after cremation, a funeral home can help. Talk to your funeral director about what you picture for your loved one’s services, and they’ll be able to guide you toward a decision that’s right for you and your family. In either case, you’ll be planning a ceremony that honors the life of your loved one, regardless of what their final disposition may be.