Funeral Arrangements

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 honours.

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

  • Honour, recognize and celebrate the life of the deceased
  • Allow friends and family to say their last good-byes
  • 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:

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.

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, a casket or urn is present, though you may choose to have the casket open or closed.

Held the night before or immediately prior to the funeral service, the visitation - also called a wake or a viewing - provides a way for friends and acquaintances to pay 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.

At a memorial or tribute 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.

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. The service may occur after or in place of a funeral service.

In addition to funeral services and the choice of burial or cremation, cemetery property, or "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 (also referred to as buried, entombed, enniched or placed) on or in that particular piece of property.

Many people overlook the importance of cemetery property for those who choose cremation, but permanent placement, or “final disposition,” of the ashes or “cremated remains” is an important part of 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 the loss of a loved one. When ashes of a loved one are kept with relatives, they can easily become misplaced or discarded through the years, as future generations may not feel a connection to the deceased. A permanent placement provides future generations with a location to visit when researching heritage.

Some common methods of nal disposition of cremated remains are:

  • Cremation Niche: An above-ground space to accommodate cremation urns.
  • Columbarium: An outdoor granite structure containing numerous niches designed to hold up to 2 urns per niche.
  • Cremation Garden: A dedicated section of a cemetery designed for the burial of cremated remains.
  • Scattering Garden: A specific area within the cemetery where cremated remains are interred into the soil without the use of an urn or traditional plot marking methods.

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 one or more of the following:

Ground Burial: Burial of the casket below ground. A concrete vault or fibreglass outer burial container is required. Double plots can either be side by side or one on top of each other. A full size single burial plot provides for up to 4 interments including 2 caskets and 2 urns.

Private Family Mausoleum: A small structure that provides above-ground entombment of, on average, 2 to 12 decedents.

Some cemeteries allow upright headstones, called “monuments,” to be used with ground burials. Headstones that are flat against the ground are called “markers.” In some cemeteries, or sections of cemeteries, only flat markers are used to preserve the natural appearance of the landscape.