A Guide to Hosting a Memorial for Cremation

Cremation is becoming an increasingly popular option for those who wish to be cremated upon their death. While many people choose to have a traditional funeral service with a casket, more and more people are choosing to have a memorial service following their cremation.

A service memorial for cremation

If you are considering having a memorial service following your cremation, there are many different ideas to consider. You can have a traditional service, with readings and eulogies, or you can choose to have a more unique service that celebrates your life in a special way. A memorial service can be religious or non-religious and can be held in a variety of locations.

If you’re planning cremation memorial services for someone who has chosen to be cremated, there are a few things you will need to take into account. Here are some ideas to help you plan the perfect memorial service for your loved one.

Understanding the Decision to Cremate

A funeral planner discussing how to plan a funeral with an elderly woman

The first step in planning a memorial service is to understand the decision your loved one made to be cremated. Cremation is an increasingly popular choice, as it is more economical than a traditional burial and allows for more personalization.

Some people choose cremation because they want their ashes to be scattered in a special place. Others may opt for cremation so that their loved ones can keep their ashes in an urn or be displayed in a special place for their lifetime.

Still, others may have religious or spiritual reasons for choosing cremation. Regardless of the reason, it is important to respect your loved one’s decision and plan a memorial service that is befitting of their wishes.

Understanding why people choose cremation, here are a few things to know about the process itself.

What Is Cremation and How Does It Work?

The Cremation Chamber Lit and Creating Human Ashes

Cremation is the process of reducing a body to its basic elements through the use of extreme heat. The process takes place in a cremation chamber or retort and generally takes one to three hours.

During cremation, the body is exposed to temperatures between 1,500 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This causes the tissue, organs, and other soft materials to disintegrate into what is commonly referred to as “cremation ashes.” The cremated remains are then ground down into a finer powder using a machine called a cremulator.

The ashes are typically stored in a temporary container until the family decides on how they would like to memorialize their loved one.

Deciding Between Cremation or Traditional Burial

Burial vs Cremation: a headstone and cremation urn

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding between cremation and traditional burial. The first is cost. Cremation is typically cheaper than traditional burial, as you reduce the costs associated with a casket, headstone, and graveyard plot.

If you are having trouble deciding between cremation and traditional burial, it is best to speak with a funeral director or your faith leader. They will be able to help you understand the pros and cons of each option and assist you in making the best decision.

Preparing for the Cremation

A variety of Cremation Urns

If you have decided to move forward with cremation, there are a few things you will need to do to prepare for the process.

When you meet with the funeral director, be sure to ask about any special accommodation that may be needed to ensure the body is properly prepared for cremation.

You will also need to decide on an urn or other type of container in which the ashes will be stored. Be sure to ask the funeral director about any recommendations they may have.

Being prepared for these needs ahead of time makes cremation much easier. Here are a few of the other things to consider in advance.

Transporting the Deceased

Transport the Body

The first thing you need to do is transport the deceased from the place of death to the funeral home. In some circumstances, this can be done by the family or by a professional funeral service.

If you are transporting the body yourself, be sure to dress it in sturdy, protective clothing and use a strong, leak-proof container. It is also important to keep the body refrigerated during transport to prevent decomposition. For this reason, many jurisdictions have regulations about transporting dead bodies. Be sure to check with your local authorities before transporting the body yourself.

At the funeral home, the body will be prepared for cremation according to the family’s wishes. This may include embalming, dressing, and/or cosmetology.

Paperwork & Fees

Paperwork & Fees

There is a fair amount of paperwork that needs to be completed before cremation can take place. The funeral director will typically handle most of this, but there are a few things the family will need to take care of.

First, you will need to obtain a death certificate. This document is required by the state in order to authorize the cremation.

In most jurisdictions, you will also need to obtain authorization for the cremation from your local medical examiner. This is to ensure that the body is safe for destruction since it will not be available for further examination after cremation.

There may be other fees associated with the cremation, such as the cost of the urn or container for the ashes. Be sure to ask the crematorium about all fees upfront so there are no surprises later on.

The Cost of Cremation

Cost of Cremation

Cremation costs can vary depending on the services you choose. The cost of cremation ranges anywhere from is $1000-$2000 for a direct cremation to as much as $7,000. This doesn’t include the cost of a memorial service or the urn.

If you want to add extras, like a private cremation or a memorial service, the cost will go up. But, you can still find ways to save money on cremation.

Here are a few tips:

1. Shop around – Not all funeral homes charge the same price for cremation. Be sure to shop around and compare prices before you choose a funeral home.

2. Opt for a direct cremation – A direct cremation is the most affordable option. With a direct cremation, there is no funeral service. The body is cremated soon after death.

3. Choose an urn that fits your budget – Urns can be very expensive. But, you can find beautiful urns for a fraction of the cost if you shop around.

4. Have the memorial service at a later date – If you want to have a memorial service, you don’t have to do it right away. You can wait a few weeks or even months. This will give you time to save up for the service.

Making the decision to cremate your loved one is a personal decision. But, it’s important to know that cremation can be an affordable option. With these tips, you can save money on the cost of cremation.

Collect the Ashes After Cremation

Human ashes in cremation box

Once the cremation is complete, the ashes will be available for pickup. The funeral home will typically hold onto the ashes for a few days to give the family time to make arrangements for their transport.

Transporting the ashes is much simpler than transporting the body. The ashes can be shipped via mail, kept at home, or even carried on an airplane—subject to regulations and customs.

When you are ready to pick up the ashes, be sure to bring along a sturdy container. The funeral home must provide a temporary container for transport, but you may want to upgrade to something more permanent.

Planning the Funeral or Memorial Service 

Preparing for a Graveside Service

Once you have the ashes, you can begin planning the funeral or memorial service. This can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish.

If you are having a traditional funeral service before the cremation, the memorial service can be held in lieu of a graveside service. In fact, you can even bury ashes and have a graveside service exclusively.

Let’s talk about some of the most important preparations to make as you get ready for the service itself.

Choose an Appropriate Setting

Funeral Service at Church

One of the most important decisions you will make is choosing the location for the cremation memorial service. This will depend on a number of factors, including the size of the guest list and the type of service you are planning.

If you are having a small, intimate gathering, you may choose to have the service at your home or another small venue. For a larger service, you may need to rent a hall or church.

If you are planning a more traditional service, it is important to choose a setting that is conducive to this type of atmosphere. A formal setting such as a church or funeral home chapel will be more appropriate than a casual setting such as a park.

Consider a Theme

All White Funeral Service

If you want the service to be more than just a gathering of people to honor the deceased, you may want to consider having a theme.

A theme could be as simple as a certain color scheme or decorations. For example, you may choose to have an all-white memorial service to symbolize purity and peace.

Or, you could choose to have a more specific theme such as a beach-themed service to honor the deceased’s love of the ocean.

The important thing is to choose a theme that is meaningful to you and your family and one that will help make the service more memorable.

Pick Out Viewing Clothes

If you plan on having a viewing before the memorial service, it is important to pick out the clothing for the deceased ahead of time.

This may seem like a daunting task, but it is important to do it sooner rather than later. Not only will this save you from having to make last-minute decisions, but it will also give you time to process your emotions and make sure you are making the best choices.

The clothing should be comfortable and appropriate for the setting. If you are unsure of what to choose, the funeral home staff can help you make selections. It’s popular to dress the deceased in their favorite clothes or a special outfit that was saved for a special occasion.

Picking the Perfect Urn for the Deceased

Example of a Glass Urn

If you are planning on having the ashes present at the memorial service, you will need to choose an urn before the cremation takes place.

The urn should be chosen based on your personal preferences as well as the theme of the service. If you are having a more traditional service, you may want to choose a classic or religious-style urn. For a more unique service, you may want to select an urn that is more personalized.

Some people even choose to have the ashes displayed in a piece of art or in a special container that can be used as a decoration in the home. Jewelers press ashes into beautiful diamonds and gems that can be worn as jewelry.

Create a Meaningful Program

Sample Funeral Programs

Once you have the setting and theme in place, it’s time to start planning the program for the service.

The program is a way to personalize the service and make it more meaningful. It should include a sequence of events that will take place during the service as well as any readings, music, or other elements you wish to include.

Ideas for Your Personalizing Your Cremation Service

Your cremation service should be a reflection of your loved one’s life. Here are some ideas to help you personalize the service and make it more meaningful.

Display the Ashes at the Service

Urn on table with candles

If you are having the ashes present at the service, there are many ways to display them.

You could have a simple urn on a table at the front of the room. Or, you could create a more elaborate display with photos, flowers, and other meaningful items. Most people decorate urn displays similarly to casket displays, but urns are much smaller so you have more freedom to get creative with the same space.

If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, the funeral home staff can help you create a beautiful display. After all, they see urn displays every day and have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share.

Create a Slideshow

Photo Slideshow

This can be a great way to share memories of your loved ones with those who may not have known them well. It is also a good way to keep the focus on the life that was lived rather than the death.

If you decide to create a slideshow, be sure to choose photos that are appropriate for the setting and audience. You will also want to make sure the photos are high quality so they look good on the big screen. If you want expert help, a professional photographer can help you select and edit the photos.

Make a Memory Table

Examples of Memory Tables

This is a great way to share memories and mementos of your loved ones with guests at the service.

A memory table is simply a table that is decorated with photos, memorabilia, and other special items that were meaningful to the deceased. It’s a place where guests can go to reflect on the life of the individual and share their own memories.

Some common items you might see on a memory table are:

  • Photos
  • Tickets to favorite events
  • Awards and trophies
  • Favorite books or movies
  • Special mementos, like memorial service quote collections

If it was special to your loved one, it can be displayed on the memory table. You can even invite guests to bring their own items to add to the table.

Release Butterflies at the End of the Service

Release Butterflies

This is a beautiful way to end the service and celebrate the life of your loved one.

Butterflies are often seen as a symbol of transformation and new beginnings. Releasing them at the end of the service is a way to commemorate the person’s life and the journey that lies ahead. As long as you choose the right provider, it’s perfectly safe and humane for the butterflies.

Butterfly releases have gotten more popular for celebrations beyond funerals—even weddings—because of how the event signifies change. Just be sure to do your research and choose a company that is reputable and cares about the welfare of the butterflies.

Plant a Cremation Garden

Cremation Garden

This is a lovely way to honor your loved one and create a lasting memorial.

A cremation garden is simply a garden that is planted with the ashes of the deceased. You can plant trees, flowers, or any other type of plant. This can be done in your own yard or, with permission, in a public space.

If you choose to plant a cremation garden, be sure to select plants that were meaningful to your loved one or that have special significance. For example, if they loved roses, you could planting a rosebush in their honor. Or, if they were born in the month of May, you could plant lilies—the birth flower for that month.

Produce a Video Tribute

Example of a Video Tribute

A video tribute is simply a video that is created with photos, videos, and/or audio recordings of the deceased. It can also include interviews with family and friends sharing their memories.

With modern video tools, practically anyone can create a professional-looking video tribute. If you are not comfortable doing it yourself, there are many companies that specialize in creating video tributes.

One advantage of producing a video tribute is that it can be played at the service and/or shared with those who could not attend. This is a great way to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to pay tribute.

Play Their Favorite Music at the Service

Music Notes Collage

Playing music that was special to your loved one is a great way to personalize the service and honor their memory.

You can choose to play music that was significant to your loved one or simply their favorite songs. If you are having trouble picking music, you can ask family and friends for suggestions. You could even create a playlist of songs that will be played throughout the service.

Playing music is a great way to set the tone for the service and create a more personal atmosphere. It can also be used as a way to transition between different parts of the program.

Plant a Tree in Their Honor

Plant a Tree

Trees are often seen as symbols of life, growth, and new beginnings. When you plant a tree in honor of your loved one, you are creating a living memorial that will grow and change over time. This is a great way to keep their memory alive and celebrate their life.

Celebrating life with the planting of a tree is a tradition that grows more popular all the time. Now, you can even plant trees infused directly with cremation ashes. Biotree funeral urns are made from biodegradable materials and include a compartment for ashes. The trees are then planted with the urn, creating a living memorial that will grow and continue to live on earth.

Make Donations to Charity in Their Name

Donate to Charity

One way to honor your loved one is to make donations to charity in their name. This is a great way to celebrate their life while also helping to make the world a better place.

When you make a donation to charity, you can specify that it is in honor of your loved one. The charity will then use the donation to further their cause. This is a great way to support a cause that was important to your loved one.

Have a Candle Lighting Ceremony During the Service

Candle Lighting Ceremony

A candlelighting ceremony is a beautiful way to honor your loved one and create a lasting memorial. During the ceremony, family and friends will each light a candle in honor of the deceased. You can choose to do this at the beginning or end of the service. This is a great way to involve everyone in the service and create a more personal atmosphere.

The candles can then be used to create a memorial display that can be kept in the home or placed in the cemetery. This is a great way to keep the memory of your loved one alive.

Unique Cremation Service Ideas

There are many alternatives to traditional cremation services. If you are looking for a more unique way to honor your loved one, there are many options available. Since you can take cremation ashes with you (almost) anywhere, the possibilities are practically endless.

Even if you choose to hold a traditional service, keeping the ashes means you have options to have ongoing celebrations of life. Here are some unique memorial service ideas your family members might enjoy.

Have a Destination Memorial Service

Destination Memorial Service

If your loved one enjoyed traveling, you could hold a destination memorial service. This is a great way to honor their memory and give everyone the opportunity to celebrate their life.

A destination memorial service can be held anywhere in the world. You can choose a place that was special to your loved one or a sought-after location they always wanted to see. This is a great way to bring everyone together while also honoring your loved one’s memory.

Of course, a destination service isn’t always about traveling. You might feel it’s necessary to lay the deceased to rest at home, or another meaningful location. This might be a family plot in the country, a favorite childhood spot, or any other place that resonates with you and your loved ones. This might naturally involve some traveling and coordination to have a service people can attend.

Have a Virtual Memorial Service

Virtual Memorial Service

If traveling is a tough sell for attendees, a virtual service is a great alternative. This can be done through video conferencing platforms like Skype or Zoom.

A virtual memorial service is a great way to include everyone in the service, no matter where they are in the world. This is also a great option if you have a large family or group of friends. You can even record the service and share it with those who couldn’t attend.

With higher awareness than ever regarding public health, virtual memorials are likely to become more popular. If you’re worried about the technology, test it out with a close friend or family member before the service.

Do a Public Scattering Ceremony

Scattering Ashes in Water from an Urn

If you choose to scatter the ashes, you can do so privately or publicly. A public cremation ceremony is a great way to involve everyone in the process and create a lasting memorial.

You can scatter the ashes in a place that was special to your loved one or in a more general location. This is a great way to involve the community in the memorial process.

If you choose to scatter the ashes in a public place, be sure to check with the authorities first. Some jurisdictions have regulations about where and how you can scatter ashes. Some locations even have designated areas for ash scattering.

Do an Ash-Sharing Memorial Service 

Mini Keepsake Urns for Ash Sharing

If the deceased has many close family members, you might want to consider an ash-sharing memorial service. This is a great way to involve everyone in the memorial process and give them a chance to say goodbye.

With an ash-sharing memorial service, each person takes home a small portion of the ashes. This is a great way to ensure that everyone has a physical reminder of your loved one.

If you choose this option, be sure to have enough ashes for everyone who wants them. You might also want to provide containers for the ashes. You can make this more affordable by purchasing discount urns to distribute the ashes. They’re beautiful, and you can find them for a fraction of the price of a traditional urn.

Create Cremation Art or Cremation Jewelry

Cremation Jewelry

If you’re looking for a creative way to memorialize your loved one, you might want to consider cremation art or cremation jewelry. Cremation art is a great way to create a lasting memorial of your loved one. With cremation art, you can have your loved one’s ashes made into a piece of art. This could be a sculpture, painting, or any other type of art.

Cremation jewelry is another great option. You can have the ashes made into a piece of jewelry, like a ring or necklace. This is a great way to keep your loved one close to you. Of course, being such a valuable gem, the jewel doesn’t have to be made into wearable jewelry.

After the Memorial Service

Once the memorial service is over, you’ll need a final resting place for your cremation ashes.

There are many options for this, and the decision is entirely up to you. You might want to keep the ashes in an urn at home, or you might want to bury them in a family plot. You might also want to scatter the ashes in a special place.

No matter what you choose, make sure it’s something that you’re comfortable with. The last thing you want is to have regrets about what you did with the ashes. This means that if you’re choosing to scatter the ashes or have them turned into artwork, you should consider keeping a small portion of the cremation ashes in an urn. That way, you’ll always have a physical reminder of your loved one.

Deciding what to do with your loved one’s ashes can be a difficult decision. But, with these ideas, you’re sure to find the perfect way to memorialize your loved one.

FAQ: How Does Cremation Work?

Still have questions about cremation services? Check out our FAQ below for more information.

How Long Does the Cremation Process Take?

The cremation process can take anywhere from two to four hours or slightly longer. The time primarily depends on the size and weight of the body.

What Happens to My Loved One’s Body During Cremation?

During cremation, the body is placed in a special chamber where it is exposed to intense heat. This causes the body to vaporize and turn into ash.

Can I Be Present When My Loved One Is Cremated?

Yes, you can be present during the cremation process. Many people find this to be a healing experience.

What Happens to My Loved One’s Ashes After Cremation?

After cremation, the ashes will be given to you in an urn or other container. You can then choose what to do with the ashes. By law, crematoria are required to provide some sort of temporary container, so don’t let them hard-sell you on an urn they’ve marked up.

Is it Legal to Scatter Ashes at Sea?

Yes, it is legal to scatter ashes at sea. You will need to obtain a permit from the EPA before scattering the ashes. There are also some restrictions—for example, you may not be permitted to scatter ashes at public beaches or wading pools.

Can I Scatter Ashes Anywhere?

No, you can’t scatter ashes just anywhere. You will need to check with your local laws and regulations to see where you are allowed to scatter ashes. You may also need to get permission from the landowner if you want to scatter ashes on private property.

What is a Cremation Vault?

A cremation vault is a lined and sealed outer container that the urn is placed in before burial. The purpose of the vault is to protect the urn from the weight of the earth and equipment used during the burial process.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many things to consider when you’re making plans for cremation services. But, with a little research and thought, you’re sure to find the perfect way to stage your memorial service.

No matter what you decide to do with your loved one’s ashes, make sure it is something that you are comfortable with. Take your time in making a decision and be sure to talk to your family about what they would like to do. With these ideas, cremation doesn’t have to be a daunting task. It can be a beautiful way to memorialize your loved one and keep their memory alive.