Cremations are trending upward across the country, quickly becoming the no. 1 choice for end-of-life services. Some families prefer cremation for its affordable cost, while others choose cremation for its flexibility and convenience.

While some choose direct cremations for its savings, a growing trend is custom cremation memorials. One big misperception about cremation is that it doesn’t give family and friends a place to mourn their loved one. But, families are opting to combine cremations with funerals or memorial services to celebrate the deceased in a unique and personalized way.

Cremation Funerals and Banquets

Some families choose to have a funeral service or viewing, followed by a banquet, before the cremation. A cremation funeral might consist of a religious service, eulogy, personalized music, a memorial slideshow or video, and a memory book. The funeral home might offer a memorial plaque or monument on the memorial grounds, if the family chooses not to bury the cremated remains. This gives families a place to visit and mourn the loss of their loved one.

Online Memorials

Online memorials and obituaries have become popular in the age of social media — and for good reason. Online memorials give family members and friends a place to remember their loved one, even if they choose not to hold a funeral or memorial service. Family and friends who live far away or are unable to attend the cremation service are able to visit an online memorial and pay tribute in a number of ways: uploading images, writing in a memory book, lighting a candle, or making a donation to charity.

Cremation Memorial Service

Instead of having a pre-cremation funeral, some families choose a post-cremation memorial service to pay respects to their loved one. These services might be as simple as a small gathering with a meal, or customized to include a dove release, balloon release, or fireworks show. Others opt to combine a memorial service with a burial at sea or scattering service – holding services on a charter boat, on private grounds, or at a public place where the ashes will be scattered.

Scattering Gardens

In addition to burial plots, columbaria, and mausoleums, some cemeteries now offer scattering gardens where patrons are allowed to scatter cremated remains. Some cemeteries also offer a “living burial,” where cremated remains are used to grow a tree or garden in memory of the deceased.

Memorial Reefs

Provided that they are following EPA guidelines and local laws, families are allowed to scatter cremated remains at sea in any location. The latest trend for burials at sea is memorial reefs, which are specifically meant for families who wish to scatter ashes at sea. These reefs are located at an EPA-approved distance from the shoreline and offer a beautifully maintained underwater resting place for individuals interred there.

Alternative Urns

Another new cremation trend is alternative urns. Many families are now choosing to look beyond the decorative urn, which sits on the bookshelf, to urns that are eco-friendly, upcycled, or functional. The latest urns are made of biodegradable materials and are perfect for gardens, water fountains, or in-ground burials. Other urns utilize cremated remains in an innovative way to create functional objects, such as art pieces, jewelry, hourglasses, pencils, or birdhouses. These keepsakes let family members divide a loved one’s ashes so that each person can celebrate life in his or her own way.

Many more people are choosing cremation without giving up a personalized memorial. In fact, many more options exist than ever before for remembering your loved one without having a traditional burial. Talk with your funeral home about the options above and how to customize a cremation to meet your needs.