Alternatives to Traditional Funerals

The death of a loved one is always a difficult time. In addition to grief and sadness, there can also be a lot of practical considerations to deal with. One of the most important decisions is how to say goodbye. This can be a difficult choice, as there are many factors to consider.

Traditional Funerals

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of people choosing alternatives to traditional funerals. While each person’s journey is unique, there are some common themes that emerge when people are exploring their options. For example, many people appreciate the opportunity to personalize the ceremony and create a more meaningful tribute to their loved one.

Others are attracted to the idea of a natural burial, which can have less of an impact on the environment. And still, others find comfort in the thought of having their loved one’s remains close by. Whatever the reason, it is important to know that there are now many different choices available when it comes time to say goodbye.

Exploring the options ahead of time will help to make the process a little easier because you won’t have to make all of the decisions in the midst of your grief. Talking to a funeral director about the different choices that are available can also be helpful. They will be able to provide information and support as you make your decision.

What is a Traditional Funeral

A traditional funeral generally includes a viewing or visitation, followed by a funeral service, with the body present, and then a burial. The funeral is usually officiated by a clergy member from the deceased person’s religious tradition.

What is a Traditional Funeral

Viewing or visitation hours are typically held the day before or the day of the funeral service and provide an opportunity for friends and family to gather, share memories, and support one another.

The funeral service is designed to celebrate the life of the deceased and for family and friends to say their final goodbyes. Some elements of the service, such as eulogies, readings, and music, may be personalized to reflect the deceased’s interests, hobbies, or life story.

Often after the funeral, the body will be transported, as part of a funeral procession, to the cemetery for burial. The casket may be interred in the ground or placed in a mausoleum or columbarium. There may be more words, prayers, or songs, and family and friends typically have an opportunity to spend a few moments alone at the graveside.

Many people choose to have a reception following the burial, as a way to continue the celebration of life and to provide support for one another during this difficult time. These may be catered affairs held at a funeral home, church, or other venue. It could also be a small private gathering at the home of a family member.

Downsides to a Traditional Funeral Service

Although a traditional funeral service can be a very beautiful and moving tribute, it is not right for everyone. For some people, the thought of having their loved one on public display is simply too painful. Others may find the formality of a religious service to be off-putting or contradictory to their own beliefs.

Downsides to a Traditional Funeral Service

The cost of classic funeral services is also a factor that dissuades many people. The average cost of a funeral in the United States is between $7,000 and $12,000, which does not include the cost of a burial plot or tombstone.

Generally, funeral directors will handle all of the necessary arrangements, but this is an additional expense. Many funeral homes require that you use their funeral services, which can add to the overall cost.

The ecofriendliness of traditional funerals is also a concern for some people. Embalming fluids, which are used to preserve the body for viewing, often contain harmful chemicals. In addition, funeral homes typically use many paper products, such as printed programs and guest books. Although these are nice touches, they are not always necessary and can add to the environmental impact of the funeral.

Traditional Funeral Alternatives

Traditional Funeral Alternatives

There are many options when it comes to alternative funerals, some of which are well known. Cremation, for example, is a popular alternative that has become increasingly common over the past few decades.

Green burials are another option that is gaining popularity, as people become more aware of the environmental impact of traditional funerals. Ahead, we’ll explore some of these funeral alternatives in more detail.


Cremation is the process of reducing a body to its basic elements through the use of heat. It is an increasingly popular option, with the national average rate rising from 3.56% in 1960 to 53.1% in 2018.


There are many reasons why people choose cremation. For some, it is simply a matter of personal preference. Others find that it is more economical than a standard funeral.

Cremation is generally much cheaper than a typical funeral, as it eliminates the need for a casket and other funeral home services. The cremation process itself is typically by a funeral director and performed by the funeral home, so there are still some associated costs.

In addition, many people choose to have a memorial service or celebration of life after the cremation has taken place. This can add to the cost, but it is still generally cheaper than a typical funeral.

Cremation also allows for more flexibility when it comes to memorialization. The ashes can be scattered in a place that was significant to the deceased or kept in a personalized urn reflecting their personality and interests.

Some people choose to have their ashes made into jewelry or other keepsakes that can be worn or displayed in the home. There are many options available, and cremation provides a way for people to create a truly unique memorial for their loved one.

If you are considering cremation, it is important to check with your local laws, as there are some restrictions on where and how ashes can be scattered.

Direct Cremation

Direct cremation is different from traditional cremation in that there is no funeral service before or after the cremation takes place. The body is taken directly from the place of death to the crematorium and is then returned to the family.

Direct Cremation

Direct cremation is often chosen for its simplicity and affordability. It can be a good option if you would rather avoid the expense of a standard funeral or if you want to plan your own memorial service.

Keep in mind that direct cremation does not mean that you cannot have a memorial service. You can still choose to have a service at a later date, either with or without the ashes present.

Green Burial

A green burial is a natural way to return the body to the earth. It is an eco-friendly option that removes the harmful chemicals and paper products used in a common funeral.

Green Burial

Green burials can take many different forms, but they all have one thing in common: the body is not embalmed and is interred in a biodegradable container, such as a shroud or wicker casket.

In some cases, the body will be buried directly in the ground, without a casket. This is known as a natural burial. Doing this allows the body to decompose naturally, providing nourishment for the earth and surrounding plants.

Green burials are typically less expensive than traditional funerals, as they do not require the services of a funeral director or the purchase of a casket.

Green burials are often less expensive than traditional funerals, as they eliminate the need for embalming fluids and paper products.

Although green burials are becoming more popular, they are not yet available in all areas.

If you are interested in this option, you will need to check with local funeral homes and cemeteries to see if they offer green burial services.

Virtual Funerals

A virtual funeral is a memorial service that is conducted online. It is a convenient option for those who cannot attend the funeral in person, as well as a way to reduce the environmental impact of traditional funerals.

Virtual Funerals

Virtual funerals are typically conducted using video conferencing software, such as Skype or FaceTime. The funeral service can be held in a funeral home chapel or any other location that is convenient for the family.

During a virtual funeral, mourners can view the service from anywhere in the world. They can also participate in the service by sharing memories and condolences with the family online.

Virtual funerals are a flexible and convenient option for families who live far apart and couldn’t otherwise attend.

Home Funerals

A home funeral is a traditional burial that takes place in the deceased’s home, rather than a funeral home. Home funerals are becoming increasingly popular as people seek alternatives to traditional funerals.

Home Funerals

There are many benefits to having a home funeral. It is possible to keep the cost low by doing much of the work yourself. There is no need to hire a funeral director or pay for a casket.

Home funerals also allow you to create a more personal memorial service. You can involve as many or as few people as you like, and you can tailor the service to the deceased’s specific interests and personality.

If you are considering a home funeral, it is important to check with your local laws, as there may be some restrictions on how you can dispose of the body.

It is also important to consider how the transport and care of the body will be handled. This is not a task that should be taken lightly.

It may be possible to transport the body yourself, but make sure you are prepared for the emotional and physical demands of this task. There are also a number of companies that specialize in providing transportation and care for the bodies of those who have died.

Sea Burials

A sea burial is a traditional burial at sea. It is an environmentally friendly option that allows the body to be returned to the earth in a natural way.

Sea Burials

Sea burials are differentiated from sea scatterings which are when the ashes of the deceased are scattered at sea. With a sea burial, the body is placed in a weighted shroud or casket and lowered into the water.

Sea burials are often chosen for those who have a strong connection to the ocean. It is also a popular option for those who want to reduce the environmental impact of their funeral.

There are many different companies that offer sea burial services. The cost will vary depending on the company you choose, as well as the location of the burial.

The U.S. Navy provides the burial at sea service at no charge to those eligible, which includes transport of remains onto the vessel, the ceremony, and the return of the burial flag to the bereaved family.

It is important to check with your local laws before choosing this option, as there may be some restrictions on where you can bury a body at sea.

Some military veterans and their spouses may be eligible for a free sea burial.

The U.S. Navy provides the burial at sea service at no charge to those eligible, which includes transport of remains onto the vessel, the ceremony, and the return of the burial flag to the bereaved family.

What’s the Verdict? Traditional or Alternative Funerals?

Alternative funerals are becoming more and more popular, but that doesn’t mean that traditional funerals are going away any time soon. It’s important to choose the right type of funeral for your needs, whether it be traditional or non-traditional.

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a funeral, such as cost, location, and the wishes of the deceased. Non-traditional funerals often allow for a more personal and unique memorial service, which is something that many people find appealing.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to choose a funeral that feels right for you and your loved ones.