Funerals are part and parcel of life, but most people might have little knowledge about it. There can be plenty of misconceptions, taboos and myths surrounding death so it is always good to gain a few pointers – especially when early funeral planning is often encouraged or when you have to attend a wake. Funeral directors can be a great source of guidance to help arrange funeral services and advise funeral costs.

Here are some of the 4 things you may not know about funerals.

1. Embalming is not compulsory 

In Singapore, the law does not require embalming to be done so it depends on the preferences of different families. It is often chosen if there will be a casket viewing, so the deceased’s body can be in a more presentable state. The deceased will be groomed and styled with pre-selected clothes, which varies between religious customs and traditions. For example, the deceased will be dressed in simple, everyday attire in accordance with Buddhist funeral customs.

2. There is a difference between coffins and caskets

Today, these two terms are often used interchangeably and most casket services in Singapore carry both types – but they actually have physical differences. For starters, coffins have a hexagonal shape (has six sides) and are made in designs that follow the shape of the human body. They are wider around the shoulder region and narrower towards the feet. Caskets, on the other hand, are rectangular and have four sides that meet at right angles with the adjacent side. 

3. It is acceptable not to partake in the religious rituals

There are different acts and rituals to perform, whether it’s a Hindu, Buddhist or Christian funeral service – and it is considered a good way to show your respects. Incense is commonly lit and offered in most Chinese funerals, whereas attendees may be asked to sing hymns in a Christian funeral. However, you do not wish to partake in the rituals due to personal beliefs, you can still pay your respects. Respectfully bowing three times or taking a silent moment of remembrance can be appropriate.

4. Urns come in a variety of shapes, materials and colours

What was once just a round container made for storing ashes have evolved to appear in many different forms. With cremation getting more popular and accepted in certain religions, the demand for unique urns has increased – with some even available for personalization. Marble, stone, onyx, brass are just some of the materials found in the market, as well as biodegradable urns with the rise of the green trend. Cremated ashes are stored in a biodegradable pod, which contains a seed, and will provide nutrients for the tree to grow. This enables individuals to have more options in their final resting place.