Whether you’re planning for yourself or for a loved one, the funeral service is one of the most important elements of a person’s final arrangements. With the opportunity for great personalization, the funeral service can truly reflect the uniqueness of the life it honors.

Regardless of whether you or your loved one have opted for burial or cremation, the funeral or memorial service fills an important role. It can:

  • Honor, recognize and celebrate the life of the deceased.
  • Allow friends and family to say their last goodbyes.
  • Provide closure after the loss of a loved one.
  • Allow friends to console the family of the loved one.

So what is a funeral? In general terms, a funeral is a gathering of family and friends after the death of a loved one that allows them the opportunity to mourn, support each other and pay tribute to the life of the deceased. It often consists of one or more of the following components:

Burial Plans

When considering final arrangements for yourself or a loved one, one of the first decisions you might make is whether you prefer burial or cremation. This decision often influences other important considerations, such as elements of the
funeral service and type of cemetery property.

Funeral Service Options

A formal or informal ceremony or ritual prior to burial, a funeral service often provides a sense of closure to family and friends. Although your faith or culture may dictate some elements of a funeral service, you may want to personalize other elements of the service. At a funeral service, the casket or urn is usually present, and you may choose to have the casket open or closed.

Visitation Or Viewings

Typically held the night before, or immediately prior to the funeral service, the visitation – also called a viewing – provides a way for friends and acquaintances to pay their respects and offer condolences to your family.
As with the funeral service, you may want to decide if you want an open or closed casket, should one be present?

Memorial Or Celebration Of Life Service

At a memorial or celebration of life service, a casket or urn is usually not present. Otherwise similar to a funeral or visitation, a memorial service gives family and friends a time to come together in your memory and celebrate your life.

There’s no one, right way to plan a funeral service. We believe that each funeral should be as unique and memorable as the life it honors. When planning your own funeral service in advance, think about the way you want to be remembered. Perhaps you’d like a traditional funeral aligned with certain religious or ethnic customs. Or, a celebration focusing on great memories made with family and friends may be your preference. Maybe it’s a combination of both. You can have one service, or several, to honor your life.

Regardless of the service or services you choose to include in your funeral plan, you can personalize them in almost any way imaginable.

For example; consider the following questions:

  • Where should the funeral or celebration be held?
  • At your place of worship? At the funeral home?
  • Who should officiate the service?
  • Will your service adhere to traditions of a faith or culture?
  • Do you want a eulogy, and who should deliver it?
  • Would you like an open or closed casket?
  • What music should be played?
  • What readings would you like to have read?
  • Is there a special poem you’d like shared with the guests?
  • Are there any special photographs or other memorabilia you would like displayed?
  • Should the decor reflect a particular hobby or interest of yours, such as fishing, gardening or music?
  • Should there be refreshments served or a more elaborate party held after the service?

Graveside Service

As its name implies, a graveside service may be held at the grave site just prior to burial of a casket or urn, and usually consists of final remarks, prayers or memories. A graveside service may occur before, after, or in place of a traditional indoor service.

Cemetery Property

In addition to funeral services and the choice of burial or cremation, cemetery property – also called interment rights – is another consideration when you’re making final arrangements, either for yourself in advance or for a loved one.

A common misconception that people often have when they purchase the right of interment in a cemetery is that they have purchased the land itself, when in fact what they have really purchased is the right to be interred on or in that particular piece of property.


Most people are familiar with the concept of burial, or “interment”, but may not be aware of the variety of options that are often available. Many cemeteries offer:

  • Ground Burial: burial of the casket below ground.
  • Mausoleum: a large building that provides above ground burial spaces, known as crypts, for entombment
  • Private Family Mausoleum: a small structure that provides above-ground entombment of, on average, two to twelve family members.
  • Private Family Estate: a small section of a cemetery, usually bordered by gates, shrubbery or other dividers, that allows for ground burial of several members of the same family.


Many people overlook the importance of a cemetery property for those who choose cremation, but permanent placement of the ashes or “cremated remains” is an important part of the final arrangements. Just consider:

  • A permanent site gives loved ones a physical place for visitation and reflection.
  • The ceremony accompanying the placement of an urn in a cremation niche or a cremation garden in a cemetery provides family and friends with closure after their loss.
  • When cremated remains of a loved one are kept with relatives, they can easily become misplaced or discarded through the years. A permanent placement provides future generations with a location to visit.

Some common cemetery placement options for cremated remains are:

  • Columbarium: located within a mausoleum or chapel constructed of numerous niches designed to hold urns.
  • Cremation Garden: a dedicated section of a cemetery designed for the burial, scattering or other permanent placement of cremated remains.
  • Memorial Benches: benches that either simply memorialize a loved one scattered or buried In a cremation garden, or actually contain the remains within.


Cemeteries can offer many options for memorialization. In order to preserve the natural appearance of the landscape, some cemeteries feature headstones that lie flat against the ground called ‘markers’.

Upright headstones, called ‘monuments’, offer another choice for memorialization. Both options come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and even colors.