Does Cremation Affect Which Funeral Gatherings You Can Hold?

Many people choose cremation as a cost-effective and simple alternative to traditional burial in the ground. But whether you're making this decision for yourself or for your loved one, you may have a number of questions about the logistics of cremation. One common concern is whether or not you can have the traditional trappings of a funeral even though the body is being cremated. The answer? Yes, you can. Here's what you need to know about each of the main parts of a funeral.  

1. A Visitation or Viewing

Viewings or visitations are gatherings usually held before the official funeral. The family gathers together while mourners come and go to offer their condolences and pay their respects. In general, a viewing occurs with an open or closed casket while a visitation has no casket present.

The easiest way to hold these gatherings when cremation is chosen is to have a visitation with no remains present. However, if the body is prepared ahead of time with an open casket in mind, it can be embalmed and made ready for a viewing in a temporary casket. 

2. The Funeral

Funerals are largely the same no matter whether the remains are intact or they are in the form of ashes. While there is usually not a full casket at a cremation funeral, the urn or other container is treated just as the person's casket would have been. The only mandatory difference may be due to a person's religious beliefs about cremation and standard funeral rites. 

As an alternative, you could hold a memorial rather than a funeral. Memorials proceed in largely the same way as funerals except that no physical remains are present. 

3. Graveside Services

If you or your loved one will not be buried, there can be no graveside service, right? Not so quick. Cemeteries often provide spaces for a person's ashes to be interred along with other cremated remains. If you choose this option, you may hold a graveside service there just like you would at a burial plot. Other people opt to have what is essentially a graveside service but which terminates in the sprinkling of ashes. 

Where to Start

No matter which gatherings you would like for yourself or your loved one after passing, you can do so no matter what happens with the body. Start by learning more about these funeral elements and adjustments that can be made to personalize them to the circumstances. Visit a local funeral home to learn more about cremation.