Memorialization and Cremation Tribute Ideas

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

Cremation Memorial Service

Memorialization Explained

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

Cremation optionsIf 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.

In MemoryHow 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.

Arrange a cremation onlineSome 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.

Cremation Memorial IdeasScattering 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.

5 Funeral Trends that are changing death care traditions as we know them

The funeral industry is experiencing an era of change in the 21st century.  It is probably the most seismic change the death care business has experienced for over 2 centuries.  A once very traditional and stoic industry is being affected by shifts in consumer demand.

So, what funeral trends are happening?  And how are they affecting funeral homes and funeral consumers?

Funeral & Cremation Trends 2018#1  The demand for affordable cremation

Cremation has soared in popularity in the last 10 years, and in the last 3 years has moved to becoming the preferred option for the majority of Americans, with the cremation rate reaching 55% last year and set to reach 71% by 2030 according to Cremation Association of North America (CANA).

Although some families choose cremation with a funeral or memorial service, it is the demand for direct cremation as a simple, no-fuss and affordable funeral alternative that is making up the core of the cremation business.  Providers in the DFS Memorials Affordable Cremation Network report that up to 80% of cremation cases they handle are now direct cremation cases.

#2  An interest in eco-friendlier funeral alternatives

There appears to be a growing interest (especially in certain states) for eco-friendlier funeral options.  Many consider cremation eco-friendlier than a traditional burial with embalming fluids, concrete and steel being buried into the earth.  Some families that still opt for burial are considering natural burial, and even traditional cemeteries are adding hybrid green burial sections to their cemetery to cater to this demand.

#3  A break away from convention in rituals

Society is changing, and how we approach life rituals is part of that change.  There have been changes in our attitudes to how we approach births for some time now, with a greater interest in natural birthing processes.  Some families have moved away from a somber funeral ritual to choose a Life Celebration event instead, breaking the convention of a traditional funeral service.

#4  Personalization

Personalization has become quite the ‘buzz’ concept of culture today.  We all look for myriad ways to personalize our lives.  We personalize our daily lives and possessions to stamp our identity, so why not choose to host a funeral that exemplifies this quality of personalization?

This trend has meant that funeral homes are having to adapt to cater to personalized services.

#5  A return to the 19th century concept of family-led funerals

Back in the days an undertaker was largely just responsible for making a coffin and burying the deceased.  The family would prepare their loved one and lay them to rest in the parlor, holding a vigil at home to mourn their departed family member.  Eventually the business of undertaking extended to funeral parlors, and today funeral homes and funeral directors.

However, there is a trend affecting the funeral industry today, where more families are wishing to conduct a ‘DIY’ funeral for their loved one instead of just using a funeral home to conduct everything.

There are 10 states that DO require a family to employ a funeral director to conduct funeral services and handle a deceased’s body.  But that still leaves 40 states where a family can, if they so choose, opt to handle the funeral services themselves.  There are several organizations nationwide they support families who wish to conduct a family-led funeral.

These 5 trends are changing an industry that has been very traditional for many decades.  Some in the business recognize these changes and are adapting to meet the demand.  But for some in the industry, these trends are presenting them with challenges.

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

Is Direct Cremation here to stay…or just a fad?

At DFS Memorials we deal with people every day who are searching for a low cost funeral option.  Many are searching specifically for a cremation, already aware that a cremation is by far their most affordable funeral option.

“Direct Cremation” is the term used to describe a basic cremation that does not involve any kind of service.  It requires the minimal services of a funeral director, so the costs are reduced.  Very little preparation is done before the deceased is cremated, and the cremation is usually carried out almost immediately, depending on state cremation laws. (Some states do require a 48-hour waiting period) Opting for a direct cremation does not mean you are choosing any less dignified a death-care option for your loved one.  It can actually give you far more control over the memorialization of your loved one.  Once the direct cremation has been conducted and the cremated remains returned, you can arrange your own personalized memorial service or ash scattering.  And yet your ‘professional fees’ for handing the disposition will amount to less than $1,000 in most areas of the U.S.

Some funeral businesses are adapting to meet this demand for direct cremation but not all.  It seems that the funeral industry is largely resisting this change, preferring to hold stead-fast to the notion that we should pay their profession for the services rendered in memorializing our loved ones.  Do they think people are incapable of doing this for themselves?

A recent blog by industry experts that advise the funeral profession discussed how talking about our death care would “decrease direct cremations”.  The focus seemed to be on how surviving family were opting for direct cremation as the “more affordable, or the less-complicated funeral arrangement”.  It seems that the writer of the blog thinks that because people choose direct cremation they are not performing any ritual or ‘celebration of life’.  Personally, we think this is an example of how the funeral industry has still not got to grasps with how culture is changing.  We believe that families can choose direct cremation, save money on funeral expenses, and arrange their own befitting celebration of life as, when and how they choose.  Our society is all about choices.

DFS Memorials will help to connect you with your nearest low cost cremation provider, believing that direct cremation is NOT a fad, but is an elective choice that many are now making.  That choice can be governed simply by cost – we now have 46.2 million Americans living below the poverty line*; or simply because we have come to realize that we do not have to spend so excessively on death care.

*This is the highest number since 1993 & has continued to rise year-on-year

‘Good Funeral Awards’ celebrate innovation in the UK Funeral Industry

The British have something of a reputation for a degree of ‘quirkiness’, and this seems no different in their approach to the death care industry.  The UK has recently held an event to celebrate the innovation emerging in the ‘alternative’ sector of the funeral industry.  This was staged in recognition of the changing trends in green funerals, life celebrations, new online memorial technologies and the more weird and wacky offerings that people can choose for their final send-off.

The Joy of Death Festival was staged in Bournemouth on the September 7 – 9th 2012 and attended by good funeral folks from all over the United Kingdom.  The strap line for the event “A weekend for the Living!”

The event was not only an opportunity for many funeral professionals to share practice on some of the new innovations within their industry, it was planned to help celebrate all the good funeral work undertaken by many across the U.K.  It was hoped it would dispel the recent bad publicity coverage of the funeral industry after the Channel 4 Dispatches ‘Undercover Undertaker’.  A program that conducted a scathing expose on the behind-the-scenes happenings at the largest corporate funeral chain in the UK – Cooperative Funeralcare.

The first UK Funeral Awards took place on the Friday and were based on 149 nominations from within the industry and from the general public.  The categories of the Good Funeral Awards were:

  • Most Promising New Funeral Director
  • Embalmer of the Year
  • The Eternal Slumber Award for Coffin Supplier of the Year
  • Most Significant Contribution to the Understanding of Death in the Media
  • Crematorium Attendant of the Year
  • Best Internet Bereavement Resource
  • The Blossom d’Amour Award For Funeral Floristry
  • Funeral Celebrant of the Year
  • Cemetery of the Year
  • Gravedigger of the Year
  • Funeral Director of the Year
  • Best Alternative to a Hearse
  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Book of the Year

These categories provided the opportunity to highlight the trades and skills from across the funeral sector, and winners and runners-up with invited to speak about their business.  This was a very different event to the standard Funeral Directors Association Conventions, and hopefully we may see something like this take off in the U.S.

The death care industry in the U.S. is undergoing some significant shifts right now, with the cremation rate rising, and many looking towards a ‘life celebration’ as opposed to the traditional somber event.  Some states are responding more progressively than others, especially where the cremation rate is already higher, such as California, Florida, and Maine, and where there is a greater interest in greener alternatives to the traditional burial.

This is a time of change right now.  The way people think about funerals is changing, the use of technology is starting to firmly seat itself into the funeral planning, memorialization and even funeral service aspects of a funeral.  The cost of a funeral is being questioned and interrogated now more than ever as people struggle with the idea, or the finances, of spending thousands of dollars on the death care process.  DIY funerals are becoming a new ‘norm’ and are moving from the slipstream to the mainstream.  Families are questioning why they should give so much money to ‘professionals’ to manage their death care.

In the U.K. the cremation rate is at around 80%, and families can generally attend directly at the crematory for a private committal.  DIY funerals and direct cremation has already started to storm the U.K., as the British demand simplicity and affordability in their death care.  What is happening over the pond is beginning to sweep across America as the price-war for affordable funerals takes off.