The traditional funeral service is still the most common funeral ceremony held in many parts of the country. At a traditional funeral service, the casket or urn is usually present. Friends and family may sing or play songs in memory of the deceased, and someone may also deliver a eulogy. Traditional funerals are often religious, so a pastor will most likely give a sermon. A hearse will transport the remains to the cemetery for burial immediately following the traditional funeral if there is a casket. There may or may not be a short graveside (or "committal") service, at which the casket is buried, or the urn is inurned. Following this, the family may host a reception or lunch in memory of their loved one.
The funeral service is typically preceded by viewing or visitation (usually the night before) and followed by a graveside service. See below for more details on each of those types of funeral services. One size fits all" does not apply to funeral services. There are many different types of funeral arrangements available, and funeral homes can easily customize a funeral to reflect the deceased's unique personality while also catering to the wishes of the family.
Funeral services have evolved over the years due to changing religious and cultural traditions and shifts in social norms. Check out our extensive list of Melbourne Funeral Services to help you arrange a funeral for your loved one.
Trends have also influenced funerals, e.g., green burials and crowdfunded funerals have recently grown in popularity. Yet despite the various options for funeral arrangements that abound, the tried and true basic funeral services remain.
What Are Five 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.
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 honour that life.
Traditional Religious Funeral Service:
Before this service, the family often welcomes visitors. Visitation may also include a viewing of the body in the casket (except for Jewish funerals). At the service, a religious leader conducts the funeral, including prayers, music and songs, and eulogies. Flowers are a traditional decoration, symbolic of sympathy, love and respect.
If you are a religious or spiritual person or someone who values tradition, a traditional religious funeral would most likely be your best choice.
Non-religious Humanist Funeral Service:
The main difference between a religious service and a humanist is that the latter omits any reference to God or religion. Humanist funerals offer a dignified farewell to the deceased as well as a celebration of life. The focus of a humanist funeral is the tribute section, which can even be written in advance by the celebrant and includes tributes from family and friends. The service also may include a moment of silence, allowing attendees to reflect on the celebrant's life.
A humanist service is a good alternative for those who may prefer something less connected to organized religion. It is also a good choice for those whose family members celebrate different religions. 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 comfortable having intimate memories of their life shared during the service.
Direct Cremation Service:
With direct cremation, there is no visitation, ceremony or service beforehand. However, a memorial service may be held at a later date. Direct cremation also may be called a "simple cremation," "low-cost cremation", or a "direct-disposal funeral." In many states, you can bypass the funeral director and work directly with the crematory.
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 afterwards can be held at someone's home. Cremation is also better for the environment than a traditional burial, which requires embalming fluid and land use for the burial plot.
Green/Natural Funeral Service:
A green or natural funeral requires fewer resources than a traditional funeral, so it's better for the environment. A green funeral avoids embalming chemicals, the extraneous cement, steel or other non-biodegradable materials that conventional burials put into the earth and lacks the carbon footprint of cremation. According to the Green Burial Council, a funeral is only truly green when it protects worker health, reduces carbon emissions, conserves natural resources, and preserves its habitat. This is why green burials and natural burials are not synonymous.
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 a 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. Here at Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals, we provide religious and traditional funeral services.
Burial at Sea:
A burial at sea is a type of funeral in which the person who has passed is released into the ocean, usually from a boat but sometimes from an aircraft. Such a burial typically involves scattering the deceased's funerals; however, full-body burials at sea are available. Burial at sea is highly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), so it is advisable to hire a company specialising in this service.
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. 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 the 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.
How To Choose A Funeral Home
Perhaps your loved one is nearing death, and you must find a funeral home quickly. Or you have decided to pick a funeral home for yourself long before it's needed to spare your family the ordeal of making this decision while grieving and pressed for time.
If you have used a funeral home in the past, don't automatically assume it's the best choice. Without comparing prices and services, you can't tell whether their fees are reasonable or you've been overcharged generation after generation.
Use this step-by-step guide to help you find the best funeral home for you and your family. By learning how to choose wisely, you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars and improve your overall satisfaction with the services you receive. Need help in planning a funeral service? Check out Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals in Melbourne.
Consult your family and decide on a budget
Have you and your family discussed a budget and decided on an amount that's affordable for you—that you're willing and able to spend without hardship? Shopping for a funeral should be like making any major purchase—you know what you can afford before you start shopping. Don't make the mistake of buying a funeral the way many people do—accepting the funeral home's price then scrambling to find the money.
Ask your family some specific questions. Do they have preferences about the type of final arrangement? If you are planning for a loved one, did he or she leave any written instructions? Have arrangements at a certain funeral home already been prepaid, perhaps years ago? Be sure to look for any documents that will help in the decision-making process before going forward.
Learn about your funeral rights
- Get price information over the telephone
- Receive a written, itemized price list when you visit
- Buy only the goods and services you want
- Choose not to have embalming
- Use an alternative container instead of a casket for cremation
- Provide the funeral home with a casket or urn bought elsewhere without incurring additional fees
- Receive a written statement after you decide what you want, but before you pay
Weigh your priorities
Ask yourself: How important is a convenient location? Do you prefer proximity to your home, place of worship, or cemetery? Is price a critical factor? How flexible is your budget? If you or your family used a funeral firm in the past, how satisfied were you? Do you have special religious or cultural requirements? If you want a viewing or service, will you need a large facility with ample parking, high-tech video screens, or handicap-accessibility? Or is simplicity your priority?
If both price and location are important, remember that most funeral homes will travel 20 to 30 miles to pick up the deceased without extra charges. If the funeral home will not be a gathering space for family, why choose the place closest to your home? Which is better—saving $1,000 or 15 minutes of driving time?
Choose the type of arrangement
- You might donate your body to a medical school for research, which in some cases incurs no charge for survivors
- Other very economical choices are "direct cremation" or "direct burial" with no embalming or visitation
- You could consider a funeral service held at the home
- Green, or natural burial, in a shroud or simple box, can be very affordable and ecologically friendly
- Perhaps you prefer a traditional earth burial with embalming, visitation and an elaborate funeral service
Whatever you decide, write down your wishes in detail. The arrangement choice is the biggest factor in helping you determine the best and most reasonably-priced funeral home for your needs.
Get a list and compare prices.
If so, check the range of costs for your chosen arrangement, and pick out some affordable funeral homes. You may find a huge price difference for the same option, so making a cost comparison might save you several thousand dollars. Often those specializing in cremation offer the lowest prices for that service, but not always—be sure to double-check.
If you can't find a price survey, look online or in the phone book for funeral home listings. Call five or six and get their prices for your chosen arrangement; perhaps ask about casket and urn prices as well. If a particular funeral director seems uncooperative, cross him off your list. Do the costs fit within your budget? If not, you may have to consider a more affordable type of arrangement, look beyond your immediate area for lower prices, or eliminate extra expenses like embalming or visitation.
Narrow your choices
Keeping in mind your priorities, do further research. Visit the funeral homes' websites. Ask your family, friends and colleagues for their experiences with any of your choices. You could also check online customer review sites. Then focus your attention on two or three of the most promising choices.
Visit several funeral homes.
Make an appointment to visit those funeral homes if possible. Bring a list of questions and a friend or family member less emotionally invested in the funeral than you are. Ask the funeral home for their General Price List and have the director review it with you. You might want to see an array of urns or caskets, ask about their billing policy, or meet the staff. Do you like the facility? Does the funeral director seem helpful and trustworthy and answer questions willingly? Is he or she sensitive to your values and cultural or religious needs? Don't select a funeral provider unless you feel completely comfortable with the director and the premises.
At each funeral home, discuss your specific arrangement choices and ask for an itemized statement. It will list the goods and services you have chosen, the price of each item, and the total cost. Do not sign anything yet. Take a copy of each statement home to review more carefully, then compare and discuss them with your family.
Make a decision
When you have thoroughly evaluated information from several funeral homes, choose the one you like best. If the funeral is imminent, call the funeral home to begin the arrangements. At this point, you could fill out the funeral home's pre-need planning form and pay a deposit if required. But remember, never sign a contract for more than you or your family can afford to pay!
If you are prearranging your funeral, do not be tempted to pay for it yet. Many states have inadequate safeguards to protect consumers' prepayment funds, and your money could be at risk. Read FCA's article "Should You Prepay Your Funeral" for further guidance.
Put your wishes in writing.
If you are planning a funeral of need, be sure to tell your loved ones about your decisions. Write down your specific instructions and funeral home choice. Give copies of your instructions to your family members, close friends, lawyer, and/or spiritual advisor. Do not put your written plans only in your Will or safe deposit box—they might not be found and read until too late—after your funeral is over.