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Events & Services

You may choose a number of ways to allow for loved ones to celebrate and remember you. There are also options for the treatment of your remains.

Funeral Service

A funeral service is usually held with the remains present, and generally takes place within a few days after death. If you are making arrangements and you choose a funeral service, you must make several decisions. What type of casket is to be used? Should it be open or closed? Who will conduct the service and where will it be held? Friends and relatives often send flowers. Many people prefer donations to a charity or society. Tell the funeral home which is preferred as soon as possible.

Memorial Service

A memorial service is usually held when the remains are not present at the service. This could be because direct burial or cremation has occurred, or the body has been donated to science. Direct burial or cremation means the body is taken from the place of death and buried or cremated immediately. This is called a "disposal arrangement" by funeral directors. It eliminates embalming, viewing and other costs associated with conventional funerals. Arrangements are simple and relatively inexpensive.

Direct disposal is often followed by a memorial service. Like funerals, a memorial service may be public or private, formal or informal. It is usually held in a church, funeral home chapel or family home. The timing of the memorial service is flexible. However, it is usually held within a few days after death.

The Burial

There are two methods of burial. One is an in-ground burial where the body is placed in a casket and lowered into the ground. Some cemeteries require a liner of wood or concrete. This structure keeps the ground even and solid to allow for proper maintenance. Another, more expensive form of burial is when the casket is permanently placed in a building or mausoleum above or just below the ground.

Cemetery costs vary. Ask for a written statement listing all costs before the purchase is finalized. You should ask about plot prices. Prices will vary according to location. As well, restrictions may depend on the type of burial chosen. You should ask about the price of the opening and closing of the grave. Also, inquire about the installation charges on grave markers and monuments. Are there any restrictions on monument style? What are the costs and services of perpetual care? Does the cemetery allow two caskets in one grave site? Some will permit two burials, one deep and one shallow, in the same plot. Ask if there are vault or rough box requirements and related charges. Ask about veteran's rates. There are special burial grounds in some areas for veterans. Check with the federal Department of Veteran's Affairs.

Cemeteries are regulated under the Cemetery and Funeral Services Act. Some parts of this Act do not apply to all types of cemeteries. Those operating for profit are generally regulated under the Act. Part of the price of a cemetery lot must be deposited in a trust account and the interest used by the cemetery to care for the grounds. A plan of the cemetery must be filed with Service Nova Scotia.

When you buy a plot in a cemetery, you gain certain rights. You have the right of reasonable access, and the right to erect a memorial on the lot. The purchase agreement may say what kinds of memorials you can or cannot put up.


When someone is cremated, both the body and the casket (or cremation container) are burned completely. There is no law saying that a coffin must be used in cremation. However, funeral chapels and crematoria do request that the body be in a container which will burn, has a hard top, sides and bottom, and has handles. This is sometimes referred to as a cremation casket.

After cremation, usually a small amount of ash is left. The crematorium may dispose of it (usually by scattering) or the ashes may be shipped to the next of kin in a cardboard container. If the ashes are to be kept or buried by the family, an urn can be made or purchased.

There are no legal restrictions on the family scattering the ashes at a chosen spot, such as a body of water, or in the wild. The scattering of ashes on land is subject to the laws regarding property – check for any local or municipal bylaws. It is best to avoid scattering of ashes near watercourses that are used for drinking water.

In cemeteries, facilities for receiving ashes vary. Some cemeteries have an urn garden where cremation plots are available. Ashes may also be scattered or buried in a family plot, provided permission has been given by the cemetery.