A funeral is a formal service of remembrance with the body present, in either a closed or open casket. Your funeral director or clergy can advise you on many aspects of etiquette relating to the actual funeral service.
If your loved one hasn't preplanned, you will need to make a number of decisions:
- Where to hold the funeral—traditional choices include a funeral chapel or a place of worship, although funerals also are held in places that hold special meaning for the deceased. It is legal to hold a funeral on private property anywhere in the U.S. When choosing a location, consider its appropriateness for the type of service.
- What kind of service—your clergy or funeral director can discuss your options, such as who will perform the service, who will give the eulogy, and whether to include music, a video or digital tribute, or a photo display. You’ll decide whether the service will be public or private and whether to have an open microphone for people to offer impromptu tributes. If the deceased was a military veteran, inform the funeral director so that appropriate measures can be taken to honor his or her service.
- Open or closed casket? This is a difficult decision for many families. Do not feel pressured; do what you think best or what the deceased specified. If having the casket present is not an option for you for any reason, it is appropriate to hold a memorial service or celebration of life instead.
- Whom to choose as pallbearers—traditionally close friends or business associates; also may be family members, although this is rare.
- Whether to have a public or private interment. If the deceased is to be buried, generally there will be a funeral procession from the funeral location to the grave site, followed by a brief, simple service before the casket is lowered. Similarly, if the deceased has been cremated, the remains can be inurned during a brief ceremony at the cemetery or the ashes scattered at a desired time and place.