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How Long After Death is a Funeral

Planning a funeral or memorial service after a loved one’s death may seem like a monumental task. The array of details that need to be finalized can feel daunting, and among the first is deciding on a date when friends and family can gather together (in-person or online) to honor the departed’s life. When faced with this stage in the planning process, you may be wondering: are there rules dictating how long after death a funeral can be held? 

How Long After Death is a Funeral Service?

Because the departed’s body lies in repose in a coffin or casket during a funeral, this end-of-life service typically occurs within one week of a loved one’s passing. The viewing and funeral’s specific timing will often depend on whether or not mourners need to travel significant distances and how long it takes to finalize the service details. Funerals can be held in a funeral home, a house of worship, your home, or at a gravesite. Unless the departed pre-planned the service or made their wishes known, it is up to the next of kin’s personal preference whether the wake and funeral services include an open or closed casket.

For some families, the arrangements and timing of the funeral may be dependent on religious practices. For example, Jewish funerals are often performed within 24 hours after death, although there are modern exceptions for travel and arrangement-related delays. Tradition suggests that the body not be embalmed and that the funeral is a private ceremony for the family rather than a public viewing.  

How Long After Death is a Memorial Service?

The terms “Funeral” and “Memorial” are often used interchangeably and serve similar purposes: to pay respects and say a final goodbye to the departed. While both can be celebrations of life, the physical body of the loved one who has passed is not present at a memorial service. This allows for a memorial service to be held at any time after death and in any place. As the name would suggest, the event recognizes (and memorializes) the impact of the person on their family, friends, and/or community. From musical tributes to the scattering of ashes following cremation, the memorial service can be a beautiful reflection of the departed’s life.  

It’s important to note that you can have both a funeral and a memorial service. It is not uncommon for families to choose to have a private funeral that is then followed by a memorial celebration of life that is open to the public, sometimes weeks, months, or a year later.  

Can You Hold a Funeral if You Plan a Cremation Rather than a Burial?

Yes. Planning to have the body of a loved one cremated does not eliminate the possibility of holding a funeral. Families can choose to hold a wake, viewing, and/or funeral ceremony before the cremation process. For more information on cremation, please see here

Can You Hold a Funeral At Home?

Yes. You can hold a funeral at home after the death of a loved one. Family-directed (or Do-It-Yourself) funerals are becoming increasingly appealing, as families choose simple, less expensive funerals that more closely honor the deceased’s wishes and style. From the singing of certain songs to the reading of favorite poems and the inclusion of certain flowers or scents, every element of the at-home funeral service can be planned to reflect the unique qualities of the departed. The experience is often described as an intimate approach to helping a loved one on their final journey.

This may mean that the family will choose to care for the physical body of the deceased prior to the funeral and burial. While this is less common in American culture, there can be significant therapeutic benefits to the practice that help ease grieving. It can feel like a blessing to family members to offer an extension of the loving care they provided during the last years of a loved one’s life.

All states allow for at-home body care before cremation or burial, as well as at-home, family-directed funerals. The Funeral Consumers Alliance and the National Home Funeral Alliance offer comprehensive guides to each state’s legal requirements, which you can find here. In addition to the gentle preparations of cooling and washing the body, legal arrangements such as applying for a death certificate need to be completed quickly after death

You will also need to purchase a casket or coffin that meets state requirements for burial or is appropriate for cremation. Buying your coffin online through a reputable retailer like Titan Casket will not only yield a greater opportunity for customization but can save up to 85% of casket costs when compared to purchasing one through a funeral home. 

Do you have other funeral planning questions? Titan Casket is your friend in the funeral business and your ally in getting the funeral you want at a fair price. Ask us for what you need, and we’ll help you get it at the lowest cost. Contact us in the chat window or here to get started. 

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