“When words are inadequate, have ceremony.” -Dr. Alan Wolfelt

Where families can go for answers.

Print and share this planning guide with family, friends and your funeral director as you finalize your plans.

> Meaningful Choices > Burial Considerations > Service and Ceremony

Service and Ceremony

Choosing Burial

A skilled funeral director will help you create a ceremony or service based on the spirit and personality of your loved one, and how you want to remember and honor a life well lived. Every individual is unique, and there are many different ways you can share their life story during a viewing, visitation and service, while providing beautiful expressions that capture the essence of who your loved one was.

In addition to the decision regarding the type of burial casket to select for your loved one’s funeral, services today can also incorporate various types of tributes, eulogies and celebrations of life by clergy, families and close friends. Music can provide comfort as well as a fond memory. Cherished photos and mementos displayed through various video solutions, photo boards and memory tables can highlight and create an emotionally connecting ceremony to honor and celebrate the life that has passed.

The Burial Committal Service

When burial is chosen, the gravesite ceremony is the final opportunity to say goodbye. Accompanying a body to its final resting place and saying a few last words brings a necessary feeling of closure to the funeral process. Families are often deeply touched by this ceremony, and its memory resonates for years. A meaningful committal service not only helps us acknowledge the reality and finality of the death, it also symbolizes the separation that the death has created. It is an essential ingredient of a meaningful funeral experience.

Direct Burial

A direct burial is when there is no funeral service, but instead simply final disposition of the body by the funeral home.

A word from Dr. Alan Wolfelt

If you are considering direct burial, I plead with you to reconsider. Honoring the life and death of the person who died with some sort of ceremony—no matter how brief, how small or how informal—will help your family acknowledge the reality of the death and begin to heal. When no ceremony is held, it is as if the life and death of the person who died had no significance to anyone. Also keep in mind that you may still hold a committal service at the gravesite should you choose direct burial.

Think carefully about the many options available to you and your family. Slow down and plan. It is through planning that a meaningful experience of a funeral ceremony is created. And do remember that funeral directors, clergy, celebrants and close friends who have done these things before can all be valuable resources to you. You are not alone!