Just because you've decided to be cremated doesn't mean you can't have some of the elements of a traditional burial funeral. There is a lot of overlap between the two. Here are some of the typical questions you may have when considering cremation as part of your funeral pre-planning.
Do I need to buy a casket?
No, an inexpensive fiberboard box, sometimes called an "alternative container", is all that is necessary for the cremation. This entire container and the body are placed into the cremation chamber. After the cremation, the cremains are placed in a plastic or cardboard box which is then sealed and returned to the family.
Do I need to buy an urn?
No, the container that the family receives containing the cremains is sufficient for burial or interring in a columbarium. A variety of decorative urns made of plastic, stone or metal are available if the family wishes to hold on to the cremains.
Can I have a viewing before the memorial service?
Yes, but you will need to pay for embalming and the physical preparation of the body for viewing. Funeral homes will rent a casket to be used to hold the body for the viewing. An alternative to the viewing is a "visitation." This is where your body is prepared for cremation and placed in a lightweight container. This is covered with a decorative cloth, or a flag, but the body is not visible. The draped container is then present at the visitation service.
What is the most economical approach to cremation?
You can choose an option referred to as "direct cremation." With this, there is no embalming and no viewing or visitation. The body goes directly to the crematorium from the funeral home after being placed in the appropriate container.
When can the funeral service be held?
If you choose to have a viewing or visitation, the body must be embalmed and prepared within a few days after death, followed shortly by the funeral service. If you choose a direct cremation, your family can schedule the funeral service whenever it's convenient for them. This would allow them to have the funeral much later, giving friends and family members who need to travel a long distance time to get to the funeral.
Can I have a grave-side service?
Yes, you can have a small service as the cremains are sealed in the vault at the columbarium or when placed in the ground in a special area designated for cremains. The service can be as elaborate as a grave-side service for someone who is to be buried in a casket.
For more information, contact a local funeral home like Louis Suburban Chapel's Inc.