This section contains information, and guides, on how to memorialize a loved one following a cremation. If you are tasked with the job of arranging a cremation memorial service, it can sometimes seem a daunting task and a great responsibility. Here we cover everything you need to know about memorializing a loved one. We cover:
- Understanding what a memorial service entails and represents
- How a memorial service differs to a funeral service
- Planning of a personalized cremation memorial service
- Creating memorial tributes with words, memorabilia, and artifacts
- Setting up an online memorial page or website
- The role of technology and memorial services
- Deciding on the final disposition of the cremated remains
- How direct cremation and a family memorial service can save thousands on funeral costs
A change in how we memorialize with cremation
Cremation offers much greater flexibility in how we can memorialize a loved one that has passed. As there is no body present at a memorial service, there are many more options of how you can conduct a memorial service. It does not need to be at a funeral home, and you do not need to hold the service immediately after the death has occurred.
This is leading to a change in how we view the whole funeral process. The role of a funeral director is changing too. The funeral home need to handle the disposition – the cremation – aspect of a funeral, but a family can then opt to host their own memorial service once they have the cremated remains returned. The need to use the services of a funeral home for a memorial service is not necessarily required. Families are choosing to use a place of worship, community centers, event venues, their own home or even outdoors. Sometimes a family feels that they can do a better job of memorializing their lost loved one. They can make it very personal and original.
So, what does a memorial service entail and represent?
A memorial service is a ceremony to remember a loved one that has died. It is considered a form of closure following a loss, and a chance to ‘pay last respects’ and say a final goodbye. It represents a remembrance of a life lived and an opportunity to pay tribute to the memory of the person who has passed.
With the shift towards cremation as a death-care option, memorial services are now typically held after a cremation, and referred to as a Cremation Memorial.
A memorial service can take many different forms. It can be very similar to a funeral service format, or it can be uniquely personalized, and held at a significant place that was meaningful to the departed.
How does a memorial service differ to a funeral service?
A funeral service is held with the body present in a casket. A memorial service is held without the body present. If a cremation has been performed, a memorial service can be held with the cremation urn present, but many memorial services are conducted with no remains at the ceremony.
Memorial services are sometimes more uplifting and less somber. This can often be because they are not necessarily held immediately after the death, so family have had more time to come to terms with their grief, and feel a memorial service held later gives them more opportunity to make it a celebratory event to honor their lost loved one.
How to plan a personalized cremation memorial service
If you have been asked to organize a memorial service, it can be helpful to plan out how you anticipate a service should run. As there will be no body present, a memorial service can be very flexible and at any venue. If the cremation urn will be present, this can form a ‘center point’, similar to a casket at a funeral service.
You will need to decide on the location the service is to be held, who to invite, what format you wish the service to take, and what memorial tributes are required. Such as a memory book, photos, prayer cards, music etc. It can help a memorial service to run smoothly if there is some organization, and deciding who is going to manage the service and who is going to speak and deliver a eulogy or final words.
How to create memorial tributes with words, memorabilia, and artefacts
If you are arranging a memorial service, you may oversee organizing the memorial tributes for the ceremony. This can be arranging flowers, photos, memory cards, candles, music, video and even food. Memorial tributes were often managed by the funeral home for an additional fee, but if you are organizing a service without using a funeral home, you can either purchase tribute products or make your own. Fortunately, with so many resources online these days, there are many companies that make and sell memorial tributes, and lots of ideas for how to make your own memorial products.
How to create a personalized cremation tribute
‘Personalization’ is something we embrace in everyday life today. It is something that has become important to all of us. And personalization of a memorial service can often be achieved so much better when the family are arranging and conducting it. No more of those slip-ups when a funeral director mispronounces a name, or omits a key detail about the deceased.
You can make a cremation memorial personal in many ways, but generally stories about the deceased, photos from their life, memorabilia that attendees will associate with the deceased, and music that the deceased loved are all good tributes.
What is a Life Celebration tribute?
A life celebration is a type of memorial service that is more focused on celebrating the life of the deceased. So, it is more uplifting and joyful, instead of a sad somber service. Some families choose to employ the services of a funeral celebrant to lead the service. A celebrant has been trained in how to memorialize a service with focus on the celebration of a life ‘well-lived’.
Funeral homes also offer customized life celebration services, or you can prepare your own life celebration tribute for a loved one.
How to set up an online memorial page or website
As many of us live our life’s and connect online these days, setting up an online memorial page or website, can be a great way to have a lasting tribute to a lost loved one, and enable friends and family far and wide to participate in creating a memorial tribute.
Some funeral homes now offer online memorial pages to their client families. These are sometimes free, but often if you pay a nominal fee for the online memorial page, it guarantees it will be hosted indefinitely.
Similarly, there are several companies that specialize in offering online memorial tributes and offer different packages depending on how long you wish it to be hosted and how much information and photos you wish to add.
Facebook offer a Memorial page option. This can also allow a wider circle of friends from all over to engage, share and contribute to an online memorial. Facebook will automatically convert the Facebook profile of someone that has deceased into a memorial page, with the words ‘remembering’ next to their name on the profile.
The role of technology in delivering a memorial service
Technology has changed the world as we know it, and this is also true of funerals. Today funerals can be live-streamed to enable those not able to be present to watch the funeral in ‘real-time’. With technology like FaceTime and Skype, it is possible to do this even if you are holding your own memorial service.
The use of photo-editing and video-editing software or PowerPoint presentations can all be useful tools to help you put together something that brings media into a memorial service. A video or slideshow can prove a lasting tribute for family to keep as a tribute, share, and revisit as time goes by or on the anniversary of a death.
Do we need to hold a memorial service?
No, you do not need to hold a memorial service if it is not considered necessary, or perhaps a very elderly relative passed without many family or friends still alive to attend. Deciding to hold a memorial service is just a personal choice.
Some people decide to just go ahead and scatter the cremated remains without any service or ceremony. Conducting an ash-scattering can be regarded as a memorial act, even if no formal service, or specific tributes are arranged for the scattering.
What to do with the cremated remains after a cremation memorial service: The final disposition
Deciding what to do with cremated remains still poses a question for some families. Often families end up keeping an urn at home as they are undecided what to do. Cremation has removed the immediate need to buy a burial plot and inter the remains, although some families opt to purchase a cremation niche and have the cremated remains interred.
Scattering the ashes is becoming a more popular option. The cremated remains can be scattered in a bespoke Memorial Garden, or in nature somewhere. For more information on how to scatter ashes, read our ash-scattering guide. Do bear in mind that it is wise not to rush to scatter the ashes to quickly after the passing, as you may change your mind later. Another thing to consider is keeping a small amount of the ashes in a keepsake urn, and scattering the rest.
Cremated remains can also be made into a number of memorial artifacts, including memorial diamonds, blown-glass, birdbaths, reef balls, paintings, vinyl records, shotgun shells or tattoos.
How direct cremation and a family memorial service can save thousands on funeral costs
Direct cremation is the simple, no-fuss, no service cremation option that is very affordable. The funeral home handles everything to cremate the deceased, but then returns the cremated remains to the family. A direct cremation can be arranged for under $1,000 in many areas. [The cost for a direct cremation varies by provider, state and city, but can be as low as $595 and as high as $3,000]. Visit our main DFS Memorials site to check the local prices near you.
Following a direct cremation, if family and friends arrange a memorial service themselves, this can reduce the overall costs for a funeral. With a simple direct cremation and a family-led memorial service, a dignified funeral can easily be achieved for under $2,000. In fact, it can be less if direct cremation is being offered at a low-cost in your area.
Family-led memorial services are becoming a new ‘norm’. It is almost a return to family values of decades ago before the modern era of the funeral establishment. And why should we pay thousands of dollars to a funeral business, when we can host a family and friends gathering at a fraction of the cost of a traditional funeral service?
Although holding a memorial service is not necessary after a cremation, it does provide opportunity for closure and a sense of being able to say a final goodbye to a lost loved one. The unique thing about a memorial service is that there is no time-critical timeline about holding it. You can hold a memorial service shortly after the death and cremation, or you can wait months, or even a year.