Frequently Asked Questions

General Funeral Questions

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General Funeral Questions

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What is a graveside service?

Also known as a “committal service,” the graveside service is held at the gravesite before the body or urn is buried, or in the crematory chapel prior to cremation. It provides those present with the opportunity to say their final good-byes just before the burial or cremation takes place. The committal service is usually brief if it is held in addition to a funeral or memorial service. If the committal ceremony is the only service being held, it may be more lengthy or elaborate. Additional elements or rituals may be included, such as the reading of poetry, music, songs, “final words” spoken by members of the family, sharing of memories, placing flowers on the casket, etc.

What is a committal service?

The committal service is held at the gravesite before the body or urn is buried, or in the crematory chapel prior to cremation. It provides those present with the opportunity to say their final good-byes just before the burial or cremation takes place. The committal service is usually brief if it is held in addition to a funeral or memorial service. If the committal ceremony is the only service being held, it may be more lengthy or elaborate. Additional elements or rituals may be included, such as the reading of poetry, music, songs, “final words” spoken by members of the family, sharing of memories, placing flowers on the casket, etc.

What is a memorial service?

A memorial service is held without the body being present. If the deceased has been cremated, the family may have the ashes present in an urn. The final disposition of the remains may take place either before or after the service. Unlike a traditional funeral, a memorial service may not be held until weeks or months after the death. The memorial service may be religious or non-religious, and can be held in a funeral home, church, private home, community room, or outdoors.

What is a traditional funeral service?

A traditional funeral service is held in the presence of the deceased. The body may be either in an open or closed casket. The funeral service usually takes place within two or three days of the death. If the body has been embalmed, it may be either buried or cremated after the service. Families who choose cremation may still have the un-embalmed body present at the funeral, with the cremation process taking place shortly afterward.

The funeral service is usually led by a member of the clergy, and typically takes place in a church or funeral home chapel. Depending on the religion of the deceased, the ritual may include scripture readings, prayers, a eulogy, a sermon, music, and/or hymns. After the funeral, there may be a procession to the gravesite or crematory chapel, followed by a brief committal service.

What are the choices for funeral services?

The four main types of funeral services include the traditional funeral service, the memorial service, the committal service, and the affirmation or celebration of life service.

What is the purpose of a funeral?

A funeral or memorial service provides an opportunity for the living to show respect for the deceased and pay tribute to their life. It provides a framework to freely and openly express our beliefs, feelings, and thoughts about the death of our loved one. It gives us permission to grieve our loss, share in solidarity, and gain strength from others who are experiencing the same loss.

What is a funeral?

A funeral is a ceremony that honors, celebrates, and remembers the life of a person who has died. The funeral service is a ritual that has its roots in ancient tradition, and functions as both a tribute to the deceased and a source of comfort to the living. The funeral takes place after the body has been prepared for burial or cremation, but before the actual burial or cremation takes place.

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