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Celebration of Life: Committal Service – Part 3

There are several ways to celebrate the life of a deceased loved one.

In part 1 of this blog I mentioned that a funeral service means that the body of the deceased is present at the service. In part 2 I mentioned that at a memorial service the body is not present.  Now, I will explain what a Committal Service is and how it is different from the other two services.

A committal service may be the last step in a funeral or memorial service.  Alternatively a committal service could be a standalone celebration of life.

A committal service can be associated with cremation, burial or entombment.

With cremation the committal service could be at a cemetery or at a private location.  If the committal service for cremation is at a cemetery than the cremated remains can be buried into the ground, scatted in a memorial garden or inurned into a niche in a columbarium.

A committal service may also be held at the crematorium prior to the initiation of the cremation process.  This may also be called witnessing cremation and is especially important to people observing Hindu funeral traditions.

With earth burial the committal service is held at the graveside and the final benediction is observed before the casket is lowered into the grave.  Often people will put flowers on top of the casket to pay their last respects to the deceased.  It is the family’s choice to remain to see the casket lowered into the grave and the grave filled in.  Some families elect to participate in this by added a handful or shovelful of soil into the grave.

With entombment of a casket the committal service is held in the mausoleum.  After the final benediction many families remain to witness the casket being raised into the mausoleum space and sealed.

Whether you would like your life celebrated with a funeral, memorial or committal service, it is important to create the right type of service to say goodbye.  This helps your family and loved one express their grief and comfort each other.

You can take this pressure off of your family and friends by creating your own funeral file.  Things to consider doing now are to write your own obituary.  If you are not sure where to start, read other obituaries in print or online.  What do you like about them?  What don’t you like?  The important part is to start.  Perhaps think of three words that sum up your life contributions and achievements.  By outlining what is important to you and what your life means to you; you are letting others know about you and how you want to be remembered.  Just start, something is better than nothing.

Consider also including pictures, songs, poems, readings, or scriptures that you like. The absolute best way to record your wishes for your celebration of life is to have it written down and prepaid at the funeral home.

If you are unsure how/where to start, I invite you to connect with me.  I work with my clients to make this process easier and to avoid any headaches for the family during an already emotional time after the deceased has passed.  To help start the discussion, I offer a free consultation to see the available options and how to get started preplanning.

I would love to hear from you.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!


Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.


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Funeral Memorial Service – The Cost of Procrastination

funeral preplanner MississaugaHave you ever wondered how much procrastination could cost you? Eight years ago a gentlemen stopped into the funeral home inquiring about the cost of a Memorial Service. During our conversation I outlined what was included in the service and the cost of this type of funeral.

At the conclusion of our discussions he gathered up the quotation sheet and the pre-need information package and said “This sounds really good, I am going to go home and talk to my wife about this, and we will get back to you in a week or so.” I thanked him for his time and mentioned that I would follow up with him next week. When I followed up they were busy with other things and promised they would get back to me.

They did 8 years later.

Read more

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Going Down Green – 5 Criteria for an Eco-Friendly Burial

eco friendly burialEco-friendly, natural or Green earth burial is gaining momentum. According to a 2013 study done by the Natural Burial Association of Canada, 50% of respondents viewed natural burial favorably, after they were aware of this option. On March 7, 2013 the Green Burial Society of Canada (GBSC) was incorporated as a society. At the AGM, this not-for-profit organization developed 5 criteria for green or natural burial designation:

1. No embalming
2. Simple covering of the deceased such as a shroud or simple box
3. No concrete liner or vault
4. Simple memorialization
5. Some aspect of habitat enhancement Read more


Leaving a Good Voice Mail Message

seniors and voice mailOver the past few weeks, my elderly parents have been moving; discontinuing phone and cable, confirming moving details, etc. This resulted in a number of telephone messages. A couple of things became very apparent to me that I thought I would share with respect to how people can leave a good voice mail message.

Few people actually answer their phone anymore. Yes there is email, however my parents are not used to doing business this way. Their preference is to use the telephone so we need to consider this in our communication. Read more