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Memorials--What You Need to Know

  Much like a funeral, a memorial service celebrates the life of the deceased. The only difference is that there is no body present. Memorials are often held in a church, a fraternal hall or any place appropriate a few days or a couple of weeks after the death of a loved one.

In recent years, more and more people choose memorials especially those whose loved ones have been cremated and remains have already been disposed. Maybe the ashes are already stored in a columbarium or scattered some place.

There's no format to the service, but proponents say it's simple yet dignified. There'll be prayers, and music, sometimes contemporary, such as Sarah Mc Lachlan's "Angel" or Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven."

Sometimes it's followed by a short sermon or meditation and friends speaking about the deceased and his or her achievements and contributions to society. In lieu of a body is a display of photos showing the high points of the deceased's life.

The definite advantage here is the cost- no embalming, no casket, no grave liner or vault. The organized memorial service movement wants to do away with the elaborate funerary rites-advocating "dignity, simplicity and economy." The feeling is that spirituality is sacrificed with all the materialist trappings associated with funerals.

Opponent to memorials, Dr. George E. LaMore, Jr., argued, "There's minimum confrontation with death, minimum ministry and ceremony for the living. . . . A terrible cheapening of both life and death is implied by all this. . . ."

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