Was Your Loved One Dead-Set On Cremation? What Are Your Visitation And Funeral Options?

If you come from a family with a long tradition of open-casket wakes, during which friends and loved ones can come to pay their respects to the deceased and his or her surviving family members, you may be dismayed to find out that a recently-deceased relative had strong feelings in favor of cremation. For those who have the responsibility of planning a funeral, you may feel torn between abiding by your relative's wishes and scheduling a wake and funeral that will provide the surviving family members and friends with as much closure as possible. Fortunately, many funeral homes are flexible enough to permit you to do both. Read on to learn more about some of your best options when it comes to planning a visitation and funeral for a relative whose last wishes included cremation. 

Can you have an open-casket viewing if the deceased wishes to be cremated? 

While you may assume open-casket visitations are available only for those who have opted to be embalmed and buried rather than cremated, this is no longer the case. Many funeral homes, recognizing that the cost of a headstone, burial vault, casket, and other burial-related expenses can bankrupt many families, have opted to make non-burial viewing a much simpler and more streamlined process than ever before.

One option you may have is to rent a casket from the funeral home (or an outside casket rental service, if the funeral home permits) for display purposes, then schedule the cremation to take place between the viewing and funeral. This won't require you to schedule or pay for an embalming but will still permit your relative's friends and family members to see the deceased one last time. (If you do opt for this choice, you'll want to schedule the viewing to take place shortly after death to avoid any unpleasant side effects normally prevented through embalming.)

Another option is to go through the embalming process and viewing as normal, then schedule the cremation. This can give you more flexibility when planning the funeral (ideal when dealing with far-flung family members) but shouldn't have any impact on the success or price of the cremation itself.

What else should you consider when planning your relative's visitation and funeral? 

Death can bring a variety of strong emotions, from sorrow to sometimes even relief—and grieving family members may react in unexpected and sometimes inappropriate ways. It can sometimes be beneficial to prepare yourself by having your relative's final wishes in writing (if possible) or have the backup of another family member if you anticipate much push-back from others on your choice to abide by your relative's wishes for cremation.

Contact your local funeral home to learn more about cremation services.