Cremations have become increasingly commonplace in the United States. Indeed, just over half of all individuals who pass in a given year are selecting cremation for their final disposition. The fact that cremation is selected as the means for final disposition of a deceased individual doesn’t negate the importance of a funeral or some type of memorial service. There are significant reasons why a memorial service important for family and friends when the deceased loved one is cremated.

Types of Memorial Services When Cremation Is Selected

Before discussing some of the important benefits of a memorial service when a deceased is to be cremated, a presentation of some of the more common types of memorial services that accompany cremation is helpful.

Traditional Memorial Rituals Before Cremation

One option available when a deceased individual is to be cremated is to conduct some type of memorial ritual or rituals before the cremation itself. A traditional funeral can be conducted, with the remains of the deceased present and in a casket. A viewing or visitation can also be conducted, depending on the wishes of the deceased individual or his or her family.

Memorial Service Following Cremation

Another type of memorial service is one that occurs after the cremation itself. This type of memorial gathering can take many forms and can occur at any point in time following the cremation. For example, such a service can be held at a time in near proximity to the cremation or even some weeks or months down the road, depending on the deceased’s own desires and the needs of his or her loved ones.

Direct Cremation

Some individuals do select direct cremation as part of their pre-planning for death. With direct cremation, no special memorial service is held before or after the cremation. A few family members, or other loved ones, may gather at the time the cremation is to occur to extend their “final farewells.” Very little else happens in the way of memorializing the life of the deceased person. Those who select this option for their own disposition usually have a mindset that they don’t want people to fuss over them after they pass. Understanding that this type of “memorial” (or lack of one, really) deprives those left behind of an opportunity to mourn collectively with other people, which can be a crucial part of a healthy bereavement process.

Closure and Acknowledgment of Death

A primary reason why a memorial service is important when a deceased person is cremated is that it provides family, friends, and others the ability to obtain closure and experience an acknowledgment that an individual has died. This is one reason why more traditional memorial or funeral rituals are undertaken in advance of the cremation itself. While some people elect not to participate in the viewing of the deceased individual as part of funeral rituals, other individuals actually benefit from the opportunity because it aids in a sense of closure and acknowledgment of a person’s death. 

Honor the Deceased

A memorial service when a person is cremated is important to mourn the loss of the individual as well as to celebrate his or her life. An increasingly common practice being utilized when a deceased person is cremated is to schedule a “celebration of life” at a future date. In some cases, such a celebration is held sometime after the death of the loved one, perhaps weeks or even a number of months. By allowing some time to relapse, the mourning period is largely over for many individuals and the memorial event truly can take on the tone and tenor of a celebration of the life of the person who passed on.

Spiritual or Religious Purpose

In recent times, a number of religions that once prohibited cremation have now approved its use as an appropriate means of final disposition. As a result, there is even a larger number of individuals who are members of a particular religion who are electing cremation for final disposition.

Merely because a person selects cremation doesn’t mean that spiritual or religious rituals and practices are unimportant. Thus, another of the key reasons why a memorial service, a funeral, or even a Mass of Christian Burial (in the Catholic Church, which no longer prohibits cremation) is to recognize the faith life and religious beliefs of the deceased individual.

Emotional Support

Having a memorial service when a deceased is cremated can be invaluable when it comes to emotionally supporting family members and friends of the person who has passed. The reality is that while a funeral or memorial service is to honor the individual who has died, it also serves as a means for people to come together to emotionally support one another in the aftermath of a loved one’s passing. This type of communal support many times proves invaluable in aiding people through the bereavement process towards healing.