Things you should know before you go – What is a Traditional Funeral?

By Andrew Hodges

In the original version of this article from 2005, I reviewed the types of services that funeral homes provide. What has changed since then? Primarily, the provincial government has added a few more types of funeral homes to the legislation governing funeral homes and cemeteries. I will explain these in a future article.

For now, I will review the types of services offered by a Class 1 Funeral Home, which is what my funeral home is licensed as. A Class 1 funeral home can transfer a deceased person, shelter and perform embalming as requested, and hold visitations and funeral ceremonies.

If you walk into any Class 1 funeral home in Ontario and ask for a price list, you will receive a booklet that contains service options and a selection of caskets, urns and casket vaults. The three main types of services offered are a traditional service, a memorial service and direct disposition, which act as templates for creating the desired funeral. At my funeral home, I’ve added more options to our price list: Memorial Open House, Repatriation, Receiving, and Donation of Whole body to Science.

In our pricelist, a “traditional funeral” is called a funeral, and is defined as a service where the deceased’s body is present. It can include a sit-down ceremony at the funeral home, church or other location (provided this location can accommodate a casket). In recent years, we have had funerals in the tent at Stone Willow Inn, at St. Marys Golf & Country Club and on the grounds of a family’s farm, for example.

A funeral may also involve a visitation time that can be for family only (private) or for the public, and either on a separate day and/or the same day as the ceremony. Families often ask me what an appropriate amount of visitation time is. I say that they should try to balance what family members can physically handle (i.e. a surviving spouse may be too frail for a full day of visiting) with what they think would accommodate family and friends. People who work full-time can have difficulty attending morning and afternoon services on weekdays, whereas retired people have more flexibility. If you have a large family, it can be helpful to have a private family gathering prior to times for the public.

Following a funeral ceremony, burial or cremation can take place. Then the deceased’s remaining family has the choice of hosting a reception for all to attend.

A traditional funeral service is selected when a family wants to have their loved one visible and allow family and/or friends to attend. In the next article, I will review the Memorial Service, which is when either cremation or burial takes place prior to a visitation and/or funeral ceremony.

Any questions or comments can be emailed to andrew@hodgesfuneralhome.ca.

Andrew Hodges is a Class 1 Ontario Licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer who owns, operates and lives at the Andrew L. Hodges Funeral Home, St. Marys.

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