What is referred to as a “Traditional Funeral” is one that includes preparation of the deceased (embalming), open casket or closed casket visitation, funeral ceremony, graveside committal, and reception. This ceremony is still the most common type of Life Celebration held today.
When one chooses to have an open casket, the traditional method of embalming is needed. This temporary preservation procedure ensures that the deceased can be viewed in a manner that will be comforting, while helping the family and friends have that final opportunity to pay their respects.
Visitation is the term used to describe the informal time prior to a funeral service (Life Celebration) where all gather to visit with one another and offer condolences. It can be for any length of time and can be held for several days, the day prior, or the same day as the funeral. Many families consider their personal situation to determine what’s best for them such as the following examples:
- Having the visitation for multiple days based on religion or culture
- Having the visitation the night prior to allow working friends and family to be able to pay their respects
- Having the visitation immediately prior to services due to family schedules or for simplicity’s sake
The visitation can be held at any number of venues including the funeral home, church, public area, or one’s own home.
Personalizing the visitation is an integral part of celebrating the life of an individual. Whether it’s video memorials, personalized portraits, or special music, because we are unique, the length to which it can be planned is endless. For example, for an antique car enthusiast, placing his/her automobiles at the entry to the funeral home and displaying car show awards and pictures may be important. For the fisherman, an arrangement of flowers with cast net, lures, boat paddle, and marsh flowers can reflect a personal touch. Or for the artist, displaying important works of art, “gallery style” may invoke special feelings from family and friends.
The objective is to create an environment of individual touches that can help bring back memories of a life lived. Many people don’t quite know what to say when they attend a service. They are in attendance because they care and want to give their support. Personalization can help start conversation and the healing process for all.
The funeral service (Life Celebration) can be held in the same place (or different) as the visitation. It is a more formal gathering in a chapel setting where the service can be based on religious beliefs, offer special music, have personal reflections by family and friends, or other special events. For religious ceremonies, consulting the funeral director and celebrant/officiant/preacher can be important to determine if there are guidelines to be followed (i.e., in the Diocese of Biloxi, A Mass of Christian Burial is only permitted in one of the consecrated churches in the diocese, etc.)
There are alternatives to burial. See Cremation Services