The Green Chapel

Serving God by serving all of God's creation.

Frequently-Asked Questions About Funerals and Memorials

Whether you would like help preparing a funeral for your loved one or advice for developing your own memorial service, we are here to help you. You can reach Pastor Ernest at 860-543-2334.

The most frequently-asked question: "What is the difference between a funeral service and a memorial service?"

A funeral service almost always has the body of the deceased person present, usually in a casket.
Usually a funeral is held very soon after the person has died, typically within three or four days. Many cultural and religious traditions require burial very soon after death.
Most often the funeral service is followed by a brief ceremony at the graveside where the deceased person is laid to rest.
Funerals tend to be formal, and are usually religious or spiritual in nature, but Humanist funerals are very practicable.
A memorial service does not usually have the body of the deceased person present.
Because the body of the deceased is not usually present at the memorial, a memorial service can be held at any time.
Memorial services are often held weeks or months after the person has died, frequently when the mourners have had a chance to travel to a well-planned event.
Memorial ceremonies can be either formal or informal, and tend to be more relaxed. People who are not religious tend to prefer memorials to funerals.

Where does cremation fit in?

In the 21st century, more people are choosing cremation than whole-body burial.
The laws and rules for the disposal of cremated human remains (usually called "cremains") are far less strict than for the disposition of a human body.
In general, a cemetery plot is the only option in Connecticut for the final resting place of an uncremated human body. Connecticut law is strict about the requirements for a casket, a burial vault, and location for burial.
When the body of the person who died has been cremated, a memorial service is usually held instead of a funeral service.
Because cremation is a complex topic, and certain details may be disturbing to some people, there is a Cremation Page if you are interested in learning more about cremation.

Other funeral and memorial questions

What are calling hours?
"Calling hours" seems to be chiefly a New England term. In other parts of the United States the terms "viewing" and "visiting hours" are more common for the time planned for welcoming friends to express their sympathy, pray, (and optionally view the body of the deceased).
Is a casket the same thing as a coffin?
Although many people use the words interchangeably, caskets and coffins are different. Coffins tend to be six-sided, resembling a rough outline of the human body. Caskets tend to be rectangular, with four-sides. Coffins are traditionally built of wood, with a one-piece lid. Caskets often have a two-piece lid so that the face and upper torso of the deceased person may be seen during calling hours. The word "casket" was originally introduced by funeral directors as a euphemism; previously the word was used to mean a box for storing precious jewelry.
Coffins made of wood will decompose in the ground within a few years. Caskets will last far longer, especially if they are in a burial vault.
Can funerals and memorial services be private?
Yes! If you would prefer to have only the people whom you invite attend the service, that is your right. (You have other rights, too, some of which as listed on the rights for services Page.)
Do we have to publish an obituary?
No. The purpose of an obituary is to let the community know that someone whom they may have known has passed away.
For help, and to make the decision for an obituary or no obituary, please discuss your wishes with Pastor Ernest.
What is direct burial?
Direct burial means placing the deceased person's body directly in the earth, without a casket or burial vault. In Connecticut, direct burial is permitted for cremated remains. Unfortunately, in Connecticut direct burial of a whole body, whether embalmed or not, is not permitted by law.
What questions do you have?
Pastor Ernest is happy to answer any questions that he can, and find answers for you if he doesn't know the answers! You can reach Pastor Ernest at 860-543-2334.

Please also see the navigation links, near the top of this Page, for specific funeral and memorial links.