Alternative Funerals

When it comes time to bid farewell to a loved one, there are a number of predictable means through which one can hold a funeral. However, today many people are looking for distinct and unique means to say good-bye, seeking out alternative funerals that seem appropriate to their particular family and to the deceased. Rather than a casket and a hillside, many people have taken cremation containers to scatter ashes in places that they feel honor the deceased. One unique and beautiful possibility is the act of scattering the ashes at sea.

In a day of expensive memorial services, funeral alternatives provide a low-cost funeral for families in a hard situation. Mortician services are still required for cremation, but the cost of the burial is significantly lower. A mortician can offer advice on how best to handle the ashes for the service, but the process is simple and free in style for the family to design. A clergy member can help guide the process so that the service is appropriately dignified. Family members may want to hire a photographer for the service because of the uniquely beautiful nature of the event.

Alternative funerals are gaining in popularity. There are various forms of alternative funeral choices. Many believe that a death is not a time of mourning and sorrow but rather a time for celebration of the deceased life and accomplishments.

Examples of Alternative Funerals:


The most common alternative funeral choice is cremation. In fact, cremation is so popular that it is estimated 50% of people select cremation as their end of life decision!

Scattering Ashes

A family can rent a boat specifically for the cause of scattering ashes at sea. Likewise, a circle of surfboards gathered near the shore create a peaceful, family feel for a service on the water. Often families bring flowers to scatter on the water with the ashes.

Green Burials

Green burials are also becoming a popular alternative funeral choice. A green funeral can be as simple of a choice as being buried in a cardboard casket (as opposed to ornate wood or metal ones) or they may choose their final resting place to be in a park or woodland and may
have a tree planted over their grave as a contribution to the environment and a remembrance. Areas such as these are increasing, although it still may take some research to find one in your area.

Home Funerals

Home Funerals are also gaining in popularity. In a home funeral, the deceased is kept at the family home, often in their bed until the actual burial or cremation. Dry ice and a well ventilated area help keep the area presentable. Family and friends can visit in the room, or in a common area of the house.

Burial at Sea

For many Navy or Coast Guard members or retirees, a burial at sea is a way to honor their career and life. Many people who also had a deep love of the sea- whether just a personal love or if they made their career from it, such as a fisherman would prefer this type of funeral.

New Orleans Funeral

One of the most unique non-traditional yet traditional funerals (which would make it quite alternative) is a funeral style fairly specific to the New Orleans, Louisiana area. The New Orleans Jazz Funeral is a marriage of African American and French martial musical traditions. The funeral starts with a somber march of family and friends, with a jazz band playing somber music from the family home to the church or cemetery. After the burial, the march continues from the cemetery to a designated gathering place where the somber music is replaced by upbeat rhythms and a festive atmosphere.

Anything Else!

You can pick nearly any way you wish to honour the deceased.


Alternative funerals provide families the freedom to express their grief through their own means and in a style of their choosing. It's a viable and thoughtful alternative to the traditional service.

May 6, 2016

By Funeral Home Resource Team