Helping Families Choose a Funeral Service

March 9, 2021

Finding the Right Services for Each Family’s Unique Needs

The word funeral is used to describe a service honoring the life of a person who has died. In the funeral industry, this word can mean many different things to many different people. If you are new to the industry, understand that family members may come to you with widely varying requests and expectations. Some terms, such as viewing or calling hours, are used interchangeably but indicate the same type of service. 

It is important to provide as much information as possible to the families you serve regarding the different types of funeral services that can be held to honor their loved one’s life.


Viewing, Showing, and Calling Hours

Viewing, showing, and calling hours all refer to an opportunity for close family and friends to gather and memorialize the decedent prior to a traditional funeral service. The terms viewing and showing are often used because, depending on the family’s preferences, the deceased individual may be in an open casket, or his or her cremated remains may be present. This gives family members and friends an opportunity to pay their final respects. 


Wake or Celebration of Life

As end-of-life preferences shift, more people are preferring to hold uplifting celebrations of life as opposed to traditional funeral services. The term wake means “to keep watch.” Families may choose to hold a wake or celebration of life as the main funeral service or before a traditional service and burial. Explain to families that, unlike a formal ceremony, a wake is a social gathering that gives family members and friends the chance to greet one another, visit, and share memories and stories of their loved one who has passed.


Graveside Funeral Service

Sometimes families choose to hold a short graveside service immediately before the decedent is to be buried. This can occur immediately following the funeral service, but it also can be a stand-alone event. Graveside funeral services are typically short in nature and can include several readings, songs, or prayers. In some cases, the family will want the decedent to be transported directly to the cemetery for burial. If you need to coordinate airport transport and pickup of a decedent, remember that NMS provides these graveside services. A graveside funeral service can sometimes be referred to as an interment funeral, which applies to any service that includes the ritual act of burial.


Direct Burial 

For various reasons, a family may choose to bury the decedent within a few days of his or her death without any formal visitation or funeral service. This is sometimes selected to avoid the costs that come with a traditional funeral. Some families may be interested in an option to hold a direct burial with a small graveside service; however, some families may choose a direct burial with the intention of holding a memorial or a celebration of life later on. We have seen this preference increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Private Funeral Service

While some families may desire to hold a large public ceremony, others may want a service that is more intimate and private. Some families may hold a private funeral that is open by invitation only. They may choose to hold this service at your funeral home but will limit attendance at the gathering to only close loved ones and friends.


Traditional Funeral Service

Make sure that families know a traditional funeral service is still one of the most common services provided. It is usually preceded by some type of visitation and is followed by transportation to the burial site. Family members can personalize the specific details of the funeral service, including prayers, scripture readings, eulogies, and music.


As you help your families navigate the various options for funeral services, know that NMS is here to help you in any way we can. While we are always available to assist with mortuary shipping challenges, we also provide livery services, airport mortuary shipping services, and graveside service coordination. Reach out when you need us.

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