Can You Have A Funeral When There's No Body To Bury Or Cremate?

Making funeral arrangements for a loved one is always a distressing time. For some families, it can be truly agonizing since they wish to hold a funeral service but are unable to bury or cremate their loved ones. A total lack of human remains is rare, but some causes of death (such as fire or another significant accident) may result in the absence of remains. If you and your family are in this heart-wrenching situation, how can you properly say goodbye to your loved one?

Funerals and Memorials

Many funeral homes make the distinction between a funeral service and a memorial service. Typically, a funeral takes place with the deceased's coffin on display. A memorial service often doesn't. Despite this, the two terms are frequently used interchangeably. As difficult as it might be to proceed with a service without any remains to bury or cremate, it's certainly possible—and can even be therapeutic. Funerals are for the living and are an integral part of the grieving process.

As Traditional As You Like

Regardless of whether it's referred to as a funeral or memorial service, the event can be as traditional as you like. Funeral homes can provide rental coffins, which are widely used when the deceased is to be cremated—with the plain cremation box being placed inside a classic-style coffin for the service. As such, you may wish for there to be a symbolic coffin present during the service, and this can easily be rented from the funeral home.

The Funeral Service

The order of the funeral service itself will not be affected by the absence of remains. It can be religious or non-religious, a solemn affair or a celebration of life. It's up to you and your family to choose an order of service and general funeral arrangement that best reflects the person you're commemorating.

A Physical Memorial

The only difference when there are no remains to bury or cremate is that this typical next step will not occur. This realization can be upsetting, as there is no scattering of the ashes or a gravesite to visit and pay your respects. For this reason, you may wish to explore the possibility of having a cenotaph installed at a cemetery. This is a physical memorial and can simply be a standard headstone. It's essentially a memorial where no remains are buried, creating a visitable place where you can pay your respects to your departed family member. 

Not being able to bury or cremate a loved one can be heartbreaking. However, this tragic occurrence doesn't mean that you can't properly commemorate your loved one with a proper funeral service.

For more information, contact a funeral home in your area, such as T.A. Brown Funeral Home Limited.