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Losing a loved one is an extremely difficult time for a family to go through. We at Horan and McConaty believe that knowing more about end-of-life care and what to expect can help make things a little easier when the time comes. We are committed to providing you with the information and services that will help you make the right decisions for your loved one. A misconception we often come across when serving families is that cremation limits a family’s choices when honoring and memorializing the person they love.

If you’re wondering if you or a loved one can still have a service along with cremation, the answer is, absolutely. The services we provide along with cremation go beyond placing the ashes in the family’s care. Many families prefer to hold a traditional funeral or celebration of life to bring people together to remember a life lived. There are many options for holding a service after and even before cremation, depending on what the family’s needs are in regards to timing, cost, religious beliefs, and personal wishes of the deceased, among others.

People lift their glass to a toast at a funeral service reception.

We believe gathering together with friends and family in shared grief is an important step toward healing. Our experienced and dedicated staff are here to help with all your needs. Here are some ways families can memorialize a loved one prior to or following cremation:

  1. Traditional cremation funeral: The deceased is embalmed and placed in a ceremonial casket. There is typically a visitation and a funeral service where the body can be present before cremation. Funerals can be traditional or religious, and can include any element a family wants.
  2. Cremation prior to funeral: The deceased is cremated before the funeral takes place. The urn holding the cremated remains is usually present along with any personal touches the family wishes. A photograph of the deceased is usually on display. Many families play songs and/or a photo slideshow as a touching way to honor their loved one.
  3. Cremation with a memorial service or celebration of life: Funerals, memorials, and celebrations of life have much in common, but most importantly, they center around an integral step in a community’s healing process after a loss. As we mentioned earlier, gathering with the people who were impacted by a life and its loss is profoundly beneficial to the bereaved. A family we recently served, who lost their father after a long battle with cancer, held a visitation in which his body was present prior to cremation. After cremation, a celebration of life took place, where his urn was present. Families can also choose not to have a visitation or urn present. Services can be completely customizable to provide families with what they need and want.
  4. Cremation with traditional burial: If a family chooses not to hold a funeral or memorial, they can still have a visitation with the body of the deceased before cremation takes place. Families can also choose to forego a visitation and opt instead for a private viewing, in which only the immediate family spends up to 30 minutes with the body of the deceased. Families may also be present at the cremation.
  5. Visitation before cremation and no service: Many individuals choose to keep their loved one close by. Smaller urns, jewelry that holds ashes, or fingerprint jewelry are some options we offer. Your funeral director can help walk you through your options if this is something you would be interested in.

    Our founder, John Horan, has always said that seeing with your own eyes is a visceral experience and aids in the first step toward healing. We find that families who choose viewing or visitation experience a sense of closure after being able to have a final goodbye in this manner. We once served the family of a motorcyclist who held a visitation. There, they all toasted him with his favorite drink prior to cremation. Afterward, they scattered his ashes on their next group ride to Sterling.

Cremation has few limits when it comes to what a family can choose to do to memorialize a loved one. It can also provide some added benefits. With cremation, a family doesn’t experience the same time constraints a traditional burial requires. If they’re not yet sure how to proceed after a death, or want more time to plan or schedule out-of-town family and friends, cremation offers families as much time as they need to plan. Whether a family wants to hold a service a few days, weeks, or even months after their loss, it’s okay. What is most important is that services do take place, and a family is able to honor their loved one in the best way possible for them.

When it comes to cremation, families have endless options to honor their loved one with Horan and McConaty. Whether you choose to have a traditional funeral, a memorial service, a celebration of life, or a simple viewing, we’ll work closely with you and your family to honor every wish and give your loved one the memorial they deserve. If you have any questions or are ready to start planning, call any one of our seven locations in Denver, Aurora, Lakewood, Thornton, Centennial and Arvada at 303.745.4418, or visit for more information.

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