Top Reasons to Delay a Funeral

Historically, funerals have taken place within the week following death because there were no alternatives. Without refrigeration, embalming, or cremation options, bodies had to be disposed of quickly. This meant that the funeral and/or memorial service took place regardless of the time of year or the extenuating circumstances.

These days, families have so many more options when it comes to body disposition that time is no longer an issue. In fact, funerals can be delayed for days, weeks, or even months at a time. Here are some of the more common reasons for postponing that final farewell.

  1. Winter Weather: A frozen ground (or ground with several feet of snow) is difficult for even backhoes to break into. If you want a committal service, you may have to wait for spring weather.
  2. A Large Goodbye: A funeral planned at the last minute is always going to be more difficult than one you have had time to think about. If you would like to hold a more elaborate ceremony and need time to prepare, a delay can help give you some room to make arrangements.
  3. Finances: Funerals are expensive, and coming up with enough money to say your goodbyes can be difficult (especially if you have to wait for a life insurance policy or estate to be settled). A direct cremation or burial immediately following death and a more elaborate memorial service later can go a long way in easing your financial burden.
  4. Bad Timing: A death around the holidays, death when several family members are unable to get away, death around the same time as a wedding…these types of scenarios are incredibly unfortunate, but they do happen. Having a small ceremony now and holding a bigger funeral later is a good way to avoid conflicts of interest.
  5. Wishes of the Deceased: The deceased may have asked for a particular ceremony at a particular time (or place). In order to meet these wishes, you may have to postpone the service.
  6. Travel: Destination funerals, an ash scattering ceremony at a popular beach resort, a funeral and family reunion rolled into one…you may need time to book travel and coordinate schedules first.
  7. Customs Issues: Moving a body from one country to another can come with layers of red tape and bureaucracy. If you are dealing with an international death and need to make arrangements for the transport of your loved one’s remains, a delay might be inevitable.
  8. Several Deaths in the Family: Though rare, some families experience several deaths in succession. Holding more than one funeral within the span of a few weeks can be emotionally draining, expensive, and difficult. It is often best to hold the first funeral in a traditional way and delay the next one.

Delaying a funeral might not be a traditional custom, but it is one that is growing in popularity. There are no rules about when and where you must hold a funeral, which means you and your loved ones have more options than ever before.

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