Types of Funerals

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Just as no two people are alike, no two funerals are alike. While funerals often have many elements in common, they can differ greatly among various cultures and religions. A funeral is a most personal event, celebrating the lifespan of an individual. The wishes of the deceased must be honored, as well as any family preferences.

This article will outline the five most common types of funerals. If you’d like to learn more about the burial process, read this sibling article on burial types.

The 5 Types of Funerals

Funerals can range from the more traditional service at a funeral home, church, synagogue or mosque, to unconventional approaches such as a burial at sea. Let’s explore five major types of funerals, so you can decide what’s right for you or your loved one when the time comes.

What Type of Funeral is Right For You or Your Loved Ones?

So how do you decide what kind of funeral is best for you or your loved one(s)? How you (or a loved one) lives or lived life is a good indication of the type of funeral that would most honor that life. If you are a religious or spiritual person, or someone who values tradition, a traditional religious funeral would most likely be your best choice.

For those who may prefer something less connected to organized religion, a humanist service is a good alternative. It also is a good choice for those whose family members celebrate different religions, as the service can make no references to religion, and it can certainly be spiritual without being religious. Because a humanist service is very personal, it is recommended for someone who is comfortable having intimate memories of his or her life shared during the service.

On the other hand, those who are intensely private people may prefer direct cremation, which does not include a service. It’s also a great choice for those who want to save money, as no embalming or casket are needed and a memorial service afterward can be held at someone’s home. Cremation is also better for the environment than a traditional burial, which requires embalming fluid and the use of land for the burial plot.

Of course, a green or natural funeral service is the likely choice for true environmentalists. If you or your loved one is passionate about reducing one’s carbon footprint, a green funeral is the way to go. A green funeral is also a wonderful choice for an outdoorsman or nature lover because the body, buried in only a biodegradable shroud, becomes one with the earth much easier.

A burial at sea is an ideal option for anyone who served in the Navy, Coast Guard or Merchant Marines, or anyone with an affinity for the ocean. In fact, the Department of the Navy offers free burial at sea services for veterans and their families, subject to certain restrictions. For Hindus, a common funeral practice is the immersion of cremated remains in flowing waters of a river, so burial at sea is often preferable to a traditional funeral. Burial at sea also can be less expensive than a traditional burial.

For more information to guide your decision, download a free burial planning guide. You’ll find details on everything from cemeteries to navigating the entire process.

No matter which type of funeral you decide on, it’s important to start thinking about it while you’re still of sound body and mind. That way, you or your loved ones won’t make a hasty decision in the throes of emotional distress. By making a decision early, you also spare your loved ones the heartache of having to make the decision for you, and you avoid them possibly regretting their decision afterward.

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