Cremation & Memorialization: Conducting your own memorial service

cremation-memorialOne of the most significant changes happening in the funeral industry today is the fragmentation of professional services.  For many years we have entrusted the funeral home to handle all aspects of the death ritual, from collecting and preparing the deceased to delivering a eulogy.  This may have all seemed very relevant in times when the funeral director most likely knew the deceased in person or through his community.  However, this is not so much the case now where funeral directors can be handling the services for a deceased person that they have never met!

This raises the issue of how effectively a funeral home can assist a family memorialize a person that they have no prior knowledge of, and is but one driver in why more families today are opting to conduct their own cremation memorial services.

Funeral directors can cremate: Families can memorialize!

Industry critics talk about how the industry is separating into the disposition and memorialization elements.  The disposition element continues to be served very well by funeral professionals, and cremation is offering a simple and low cost disposition option.  A basic cremation without any services (known in the trade as a direct cremation or immediate cremation) can be conducted in most cities for between $795 and $1,195.  This handles the complete disposition process simply, efficiently and at a manageable cost.

Once the cremated remains are returned to the family they can than arrange to conduct a cremation memorial service.  This can be arranged at a time and place that is entirely suitable for the family.  Memorial services can be held at home, in a place of worship or a community venue.  In fact, you can even hold a memorial service at a golf club!  They can be held with the cremated remains present, or without.  A memorial service can be held to scatter cremated remains, or to distribute keepsake cremation urns between family members.

Not only can the family arrange to conduct their own memorial service which can be uniquely personalized, but they can do it at a fraction of the cost a traditional funeral service at a funeral home would have cost.

memorial_board_makingLife celebrations: Tributes that are uniquely personal

No one can best memorialize a lost loved one than the family who hold those shared memories of the deceased.  Funerals are becoming less somber events and more about creating an uplifting celebration of a life lived.  The number of celebrants is increasing as families use the services of a professional to deliver secular celebration services.  However, where they feel capable the family can prepare and deliver their own tribute service.  A benefit of being able to arrange a timely cremation and postpone the funeral service is that it gives the family a chance to immediately grieve without being forced to make decisions about a funeral service.  The service can be arranged at a later date when the family feels ready to address the memorial aspect of remembering their lost loved one.

Save money by creating your own memorial tributes

If you wish to conduct your own memorial services and keep costs down, then there are various options available for how you can make your own memorial tributes.  You can download templates for memorial cards, set up free online memorial pages, and create your own memory boards, candles and wreaths.  All it takes is a little bit of time, imagination and desire to completely make your tribute personal.

Natural Death Care: the ‘do-it-yourself’ alternative

Have you ever thought about caring for your deceased family member yourself?  Washing him or her, preparing he or she for burial (or cremation), building your own wooden coffin, transporting them to their final resting place and conducting your own funeral service.   Sounds a little extraordinary doesn’t it?  Yet it is not that long ago since that was how it was done.  Most people died at home and the family cared for them, perhaps enlisting the services of their minister and an undertaker/cabinet maker.

However, home funeral care is gaining more popularity, as there is a cultural shift towards reclaiming these rituals for the family.  We are witnessing a revival in the home funeral, or family-directed funeral, as culturally and financially Americans are seeking other alternatives for a funeral.  Natural death care seems like the other paradigm to natural childbirth, bringing the rituals of entering and leaving our lives back towards a more holistic approach.

Conducting your own funeral offers some more simplistic, personal and natural methods of disposition.  Whether you are seeking a completely organic, ecologically- friendly earth burial, or a simple cremation, arranging to do-it-yourself gives you complete autonomy over the death care ritual.

How does a green burial save money?

An average funeral in the US today costs around $7,775 (according the NFDA 2012), yet much of this cost is spent on professional fees and elaborate merchandise, and it does not include any cemetery fees.  A simple natural burial in a green cemetery is likely to cost a family something in the region of $1,000, especially if the family direct their own preparation of the deceased and opt for a basic wooden coffin.

There are a number of ‘green’ natural cemeteries across the US where you can bury your dead in a green reserve where they are naturally returned to nature.  Many of these sites even operate as non-profit organizations where a donation is requested in lieu of a burial plot.

The $1,000 Family Farewell

Yes, you can probably do-it-yourself for the cost of $1,000, an inexpensive family send-off.  Many green burial sites charge a basic fee and around $500 should get you a single burial plot.  If the family undertakes all the funeral preparation themselves, then a simple but dignified burial can be achieved for $1,000 in many areas of the US.

A basic cremation is the other alternative that can facilitate a simple low cost family funeral.  A direct cremation can be obtained in most metro areas in the US now for $500 – $800.  Cremation has long been a disposition method in many faiths and cultures, and considered by some to be a more ‘natural and spiritual way to dispose of our earthly body.  In this way cremation can facilitate a natural DIY option for the family.  Once the family has the cremated remains, a private family memorial service can be held.

Resources for Family-directed funerals:

Home Funeral Directory  – http://homefuneraldirectory.com/

National Home Funeral Alliance – http://homefuneralalliance.org/

Natural Burial Co-operative – http://naturalburial.coop/USA/

DFS Memorials – Locate your nearest low cost cremation provider