The passing of a loved one is a difficult time marked by many questions: questions about how to begin the journey of healing, but also practical questions involving memorial services. Trying to decide which memorial services will best reflect your remarkable loved one’s wishes can be challenging. 

Many friends and family members ultimately choose cremation as the best way to honor their loved one’s life and memory, although there is no incorrect decision when laying your incredible loved one to rest. Cremation offers many options for memorial services, and there are multiple types of cremation to choose from. 

Learning about each form of cremation can help you make an informed decision about your loved one’s end-of-life services.

What Is Cremation?

Cremation is a type of burial service that serves as an alternative to burial in a coffin or casket. During cremation, remains are placed in a specialized furnace called a retort and transformed into what we know as cremated ashes. 

Cremation is often more cost-effective than burial, and there are typically more options available for memorialization following a funeral service. Cremation ashes can either be displayed in an urn, scattered, buried, or transformed into a portable memorial diamond. 

Cremation is also generally easier to arrange than the burial of a casket. If your family has decided to lay your loved one to rest using cremation, there are several options to consider including direct cremation, witnessed cremation, and memorial cremation. 

Direct Cremation

The process of direct cremation is the simplest of all cremation options and the most cost-effective. Direct cremation takes place almost directly after a loved one passes on, typically within 48 hours. Due to the speed of this process, there is no need for the body to be embalmed, thus reducing the price of the end-of-life processes. 

Choosing a direct cremation process means foregoing a traditional viewing or visitation. However, a funeral service can still be performed using the cremation ashes after cremation. 

Witnessed Cremation

Witnessed cremation allows for a few family members to be present during the cremation process. This provides a sense of closure to family members in knowing that they can say their final goodbyes and see how their loved one is cared for during their cremation, although each form of cremation is performed with the utmost respect and care. 

There are several reasons why families choose a witness cremation:

  1. Religion. Some religions prefer witnessed cremation, such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Cremation is believed to release the soul more quickly into reincarnation in these religions, and the family is often expected to remain with their loved one until the moment of their cremation. 
  2. Respect. Often, families will decide on a witness cremation to ensure that their loved ones are given a respectful service. Although all forms of cremation are performed respectfully and hygienically, some families prefer the peace of mind from knowing they were there with their loved one from the moment of passing to the moment of cremation. 
  3. Relationship. Families who choose a witness cremation desire to show their deep love and affection for their lost loved one by remaining with them throughout the burial process. Attending a loved one’s cremation is a way for family members to care for those they have lost. 

Of course, there are many ways to show your love for the remarkable relationship you shared with your loved one outside of witnessed cremation if that’s not the form of cremation you choose.

Cremation With Memorial

Many people choose to have a memorial service following cremation. This process is generally easier to arrange because it does not require embalming the body or preparation for viewing. 

The cremated remains are typically placed inside an urn for the memorial service. Opting for a memorial service after cremation allows for greater time flexibility for surviving loved ones. The option of cremation with a memorial service allows the family to find a time where loved ones from far and wide can come together to celebrate their loved one who has passed away, whereas burials may occur so quickly that some loved ones are not able to come into town for the service.

Hosting a memorial service after cremation also allows for flexibility of location. While funerals are generally held within the state a person has passed in or within a funeral home, cremating first allows the family to choose a location that was significant to their loved one

Memorial services following cremation typically consist of family and friends gathering to share stories and memories of their loved ones. Close family members will usually also write and deliver eulogies. Memorial services may also include lighting candles and reading religious scriptures or praying. 

Cremation and a Funeral Service

A funeral service that takes place prior to cremation is also an option for families who want an open-casket ceremony and the many memorial options that cremation provides.

First, a loved one’s body must be prepared for viewing. This will require coordinating with a funeral director to ensure that the body is embalmed and a casket or coffin can be chosen. Personal touches like the casket choice, the location of the funeral, and the officiate can celebrate your loved one’s unique personality and legacy.

A traditional funeral service is typically held within two to three days of a loved one’s passing. While generally more costly and less time effective, traditional funerals are a wonderful way to celebrate a remarkable life. It is a time to gather family and friends together to honor the life of one loved by many. 

Cremation and Scattered Ashes

Scattering ashes is a thoughtful way to lay your loved ones to rest somewhere meaningful to them. Typically, the location where the ashes are scatted is chosen by the family based upon their loved one’s favorite location. There are several ways to scatter a loved one’s ashes:

Casting Ceremony 

A casting ceremony occurs when the ashes of a loved one are cast into the air. This ceremony is believed to set a loved one’s spirit free. A casting ceremony can be personalized and performed however the family wishes. Some families elect for one member to release the ashes into the wind, while others may divide the ashes and have each family member release them. 

Aerial Ceremony

During an aerial ceremony, families can hire a plane or helicopter to take their loved one’s ashes up and scatter them into the air. On clear days, the ashes being released can be seen from the ground. Families can gather to watch as the plane scatters the ashes. Some families may choose to have a memorial service on the ground as the ashes are scattered above. 

Water Ceremony

Water ceremonies are also growing in popularity as a way of scattering ashes. Ashes can be cast into the water, or families can choose to place ashes within a water-soluble urn. Water-soluble urns dissolve but will stay afloat long enough for the family to share fond memories or take a moment of silence. 

Other Options

When it comes to scattering ashes, the decision lies in the hands of the surviving loved ones. There are countless locations where a family could choose to scatter the ashes of their loved one. Perhaps the widower may choose to scatter their beloved’s ashes in the yard of their home. If there is a vacation destination that your loved one would regularly visit—such as a beach—loved ones may choose to scatter the ashes there. 

How Else Can Ashes Be Used to Celebrate a Remarkable Life?

There are many other post-cremation services available that can honor your loved one’s impact and legacy outside of scattering ashes or hosting a memorial. 

Creating jewelry from the ashes of a loved one is a beautiful way to honor a loved one who has passed. The carbon in cremated remains can be used to create a diamond when exposed to heat and pressure that mimics the unique conditions found in the Earth’s mantle. At Eterneva, we create diamonds from ashes that are one-of-a-kind, just like your loved one.

After learning the story of your remarkable loved one, Eterneva’s scientists extract the carbon from your loved one’s ashes. Throughout the next 10 to 12 months, we share the journey as your loved one’s carbon is transformed into a thoughtful memorial diamond, from its growth through finishing touches such as coloring, grading, and engraving. 

The color of your Eterneva diamond can be chosen based on your loved one’s favorite color, birthstone, or any color that reminds you of them. Personalized inscriptions can also be added to any jewelry piece, and your diamond can be set into a beautiful jewelry piece so you can always keep your loved one near.

Turning ashes into a diamond represents the beauty and vibrancy of life. It is also a way to keep your loved ones close, even after their passing. Honor their memory with a beautiful piece of jewelry that will remind you of their life every day of yours. 

Choosing Cremation

When it comes to burial ceremonies, there are many ways to honor those who have passed. Cremation is rising in popularity because it is a cost-effective option that provides great flexibility for the family. Choosing cremation allows the family to deeply personalize the burial experience and tailor it to align with what their loved one would have wanted. 

Within cremation, there are still many options when it comes to the service. Families can choose a more formal service in a church or funeral home or an intimate gathering at a meaningful location. 

No matter the cremation service, families who have chosen cremation can rest assured knowing that it is an honorable way to care for their loved one after a loss. 


Ashes to Ashes: America's First Crematorium | Pennsylvania Center for the Book 

Can I Get a Witness (Cremation)? | Cremation Association 

Cremation | funeral custom | Britannica