In Delaware and across most of the United States, in ground burial, called interment, is considered to be the most traditional disposition of the deceased. Interment requires that the remains be placed in a casket and then placed in the earth in a cemetery. Oftentimes, the cemetery requires the grave space be lined with a burial container that can be made of concrete, steel, or other permanent materials. The grave space is usually topped with a monument or a flat marker that is inscribed with the name, date of birth, and death of the deceased. Markers and monuments can now include pictures and engravings to personalize each location.
Entombment is the term for above ground disposition in a cemetery. The casketed remains are placed in a family or community mausoleum. A mausoleum is a building with chambers in which to place the casket. Traditionally, mausoleums were owned by private families to have family members entombed in one structure. Since these buildings are usually expensive to make, many cemeteries have now constructed community mausoleums where spaces may be purchased like grave space. Each space is usually marked with a plaque with the name of the deceased.
Viewing and Funeral Ceremony
Interment and entombment are usually preceded by a viewing, also called a wake or calling hours. Viewings are most commonly held in the evening at the funeral home and then followed the next day by a formal funeral ceremony at the funeral home or at a place of worship. In recent years, however, many families have opted to have the viewing and funeral ceremony on the same day at the funeral home. Many churches are now able to provide a place for a viewing in church with a Christian mass or other ceremony following. While same day services are not as traditional, they are more cost efficient and still considered to be a respectful funeral for a loved one.
A graveside service is a small, dignified service held at the gravesite or at a cemetery chapel. Typically, there is no public viewing or funeral ceremony. In some circumstances, the common preparation of the deceased, such as embalming or cosmetics, is not required. Because graveside services can require less preparation than those with calling hours and a funeral ceremony, the cost can be considerably lower. Yet, many grief counselors feel that full funeral services can be of significant value in the grieving process, and, therefore, graveside services are not recommended for everyone.
As funeral directors, we have, of course, seen some tragic events. However, we’ve also seen some good made in the midst of tragedy through the Gift of Life program. Grieving family members often find comfort with the knowledge that they have given so many people a second chance at life. Organ donation does not stop a family from having a viewing. The men and women at the Gift of Life work in coordination with funeral directors to ensure your wishes for a viewing are still possible. To become an organ donor, please click here.
Family Cremation Services
In July 2003, Mealey Funeral Homes opened its own crematory called Family Cremation Services.
Cremation is an option growing in popularity as an alternative to burial or entombment. Almost all major religions recognize cremation as an appropriate means of disposition. Cremation can be less expensive than traditional burial, yet can be designed to be a ceremonious and tasteful departure. As simple as cremation sounds, there are still many choices in the types of gatherings that it can include.
People who prefer not to have any service or gathering can choose a direct cremation. In this case, after the funeral director completes the appropriate paperwork, the cremation is performed without any type of viewing or service. The cremated remains (called cremains) are returned to the family members after the process is complete.
Cremation followed by a Memorial Service
A memorial service is held after the cremation takes place, and oftentimes, the cremains are present. The memorial service can be tailored to each family's wishes, and often includes pictures, music, memorabilia, awards, and poetry or scripture readings that reflect the personal taste of the deceased or of the surviving family. If the cremains are present, an urn is usually desired. Urns come in many styles and materials that can also personify the lifestyle of the deceased.
Funeral Service with Cremation following
Increasingly popular is the option of traditional funeral services or mass of Christian burial, with the cremation following. In these cases, a casket can be rented or a special cremation casket can be purchased so that a viewing can be held and the deceased can be present during the service or the mass. Many experts in the study of grief have long felt that a viewing and funeral service help begin a healthy grieving process. A full service cremation, however, is vastly less costly than traditional burial or entombment.
Catholic Rules on Cremation
Information regarding the Catholic Rules on Cremation can be found by clicking here.