A memorial service usually happens after the cremation or burial has already taken place. Although saying a “Memorial Service” can seem rather formal, in reality it can be any event where people gather together to remember, mourn and celebrate the life of a person.
– then a Memorial Service later
This type of funeral is becoming more popular – to have a private or direct cremation initially and then organise a get together at a later date. There are many advantages to doing this.
Time and Space
Naturally when someone dies it can be a stressful time. Even if the death is expected there is still loss. Families are confronted with having many things to organise besides a funeral.
In the past a funeral was organised during this tough time and for some people there was a lot on their mind besides the funeral itself. Things like contacting family, the bank, lawyer, etc.
Sometimes the emotion and grief at the time enable funeral homes to talk families into spending more when they didn’t need the extra expense. Families could easily end up having a much different funeral than they initially wanted. It only takes a few extra things for the funeral costs to rise dramatically.
Having a memorial service later also gives time for families to get over the initial shock, stress or sadness. It means they can be a little more present at the later gathering.
When a funeral happens soon after death there is so much going on. Contact family, arranging a funeral date and travel time, where to have service, what to do at service and so on. And all the time people are coping with the death of a loved one.
So there is days of manic planning and then the funeral and then everything stops. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what was said at the funeral and those visiting out of town usually need to leave soon.
That’s why many people prefer having something later. Below are some benefits with a memorial service. It may not be something you have considered.
Having a private cremation first is that it allows family and close friends a more intimate and personal time to say goodbye. This time is usually more informal to be shared with those closest. Families share stories, music or poems. The committal service is the family’s time to farewell the body.
Although the cremation happens a soon after death there is plenty of time for people to prepare for a simple gathering.
Perhaps talking about money isn’t the right attitude when a family wants to remember a loved one. But for many it is a factor they need to consider. There are definitely cost savings – especially with Simple Direct Funerals. It is the reason we were established.
Even with a committal service our costs are so much lower than other homes. This allows family to free up money for a memorial / celebration later or any other expenses.
Even having a simple committal service with other funeral homes can increase the cost by thousands. I prefer that families are able to use the money themselves rather than giving it to funeral homes.
Having a cremation (or burial) first often means that the person doesn’t need to be embalmed. This is an invasive procedure that has limited benefits. The main reasons are to disinfect and preserve the body. But this is an option more people are opting out of having.
Organising and Logistics
Having time and space allows people to organise a get together with a clearer mind. Often the gathering is at a place that the family is more comfortable visiting and the style of service, whether it been formal or informal, suits them better.
Often people chose a location that they are familiar with and often the cost is much less than using a funeral home. Some people even go to the beach or mountains. So there is a lot of scope for people to celebrate the person in a way that truly reflects them.
Additionally planning the date for some time in the future helps those further away to travel. It often means that when they do arrive the trip isn’t as rushed and there is more time to spend with family.
Initially, there is the need to transport the person who has died. If they are in a coffin, going to a church or another place there is a need for transportation. Funeral homes sometimes charge for hearse hire.
Obviously having an urn is much easier to carry. People often have the urn there with flowers and photos and things that represent the person like tools or hobbies, etc. Even if there isn’t an urn it is the gathering that is most important.
It also means that after the service people can fellowship together immediately. Where sometimes the family will leave with the coffin.
Funeral celebrants can also help organise a service if families desire. Or it can be as informal as having an afternoon tea with friends at home.
When I led funerals as a minister, the two things people tended to remember the most were the stories told about the person and the people they caught up with there. Everything else, like the type of coffin or flowers or hearse wasn’t nearly as important or memorable.
Taking some time after the death to arrange something didn’t erase the memory. Rather is enabled people to be much more present remembering and celebrating the life of a person who impacted their lives.
How you remember, how you mourn, how you say goodbye is a decision you and your family should be empowered to make.