Can You Hold Two Funeral Services for a Loved One?

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A funeral service is an opportunity for friends and family to say their goodbyes one last time. However, there are some occasions where one funeral might not be enough. Whether the first funeral needs to be delayed or not all family members can attend, it’s sometimes necessary to hold two funeral services for a loved one. 

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There are no laws or regulations that prevent any families from hosting more than one funeral. Though we usually think of this as a one-time occasion, there are many different instances where it’s more practical to have two (or more) funerals. 

A funeral isn’t just a chance to honor the dead. It’s a way to find closure after a painful loss, and it can be a powerful way to heal from ongoing grief. In this guide, we’ll explore the concept of holding more than one funeral. Is it really possible to hold two funeral services for a loved one? 

Is It OK to Have Two Funerals?

There’s a lot of confusion over whether it’s okay to have more than one funeral. In reality, there are many instances where it makes sense to have more than one funeral service. 

It’s important to recognize that funerals are for the living. Even if there’s no funeral service, the body is still laid to rest peacefully. Funerals are a time for the family and friends of a loved one to gather and pay their respects. They can express grief, loss, and sorrow surrounded by those they trust. 

As such, it’s most definitely okay to have two funerals or even more than that. Funerals are for the living, not the dead. They’re entirely up to the surviving family. 

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Why You Might Need a Second Funeral Service

There are many reasons why you might need a second funeral service. In the age of virtual funeral planning and tele-funerals, more people are looking for alternative options. There are no strict rules about how a family grieves or honors their loved one. 

Why might you need to have a second funeral service? Here are some common reasons:

  • Celebrity death: After the death of a celebrity, many people feel the need to express their grief even if they never met the person themselves. Many celebrity funerals include a quiet, intimate service for close friends and family and something more public.
  • Safety: In the case of a global pandemic or other outbreak, it might not be safe to gather in large groups. A small funeral might be done immediately after the death and a large funeral is planned for later. 
  • Time zones: It’s common today for families to be more spread out than before. If loved ones live in different time zones, separate ceremonies might be hosted at different times or even on different days so everyone can attend.
  • Terminal illness: If someone knows they’re passing away soon, typically in the case of old age or a terminal illness, they might want to actually be a part of their funeral. This is commonly called a celebration of life, and it happens in addition to a “real” funeral after they die. 
  • Customs: In some cultures, it’s common to have a visitation or wake, funeral service, and graveside burial service. In many ways, this is like hosting more than one funeral. 
  • Unexpected delay: If something unexpected happens that delays some people from attending the first funeral, a smaller, second one might be held at a later time and date to help these individuals say goodbye. 

There are no right or wrong reasons to have more than one funeral. If this feels right for you and your family, that’s all that truly matters. Again, funerals are for the living. Sometimes a single service isn’t enough for everyone to say goodbye fully and properly. A second funeral might be needed to find closure, and that’s okay.

Tips for Planning a Two Funeral Services

Planning a single funeral is a large time commitment. Planning more than one adds even more burden onto the family after a loss. 

Many are surprised to learn just how complicated planning a funeral can be. From religious elements to the burial or final resting place, there are a lot of different steps to consider. A second service only adds to this. Review these tips to simplify the process of planning two funeral services. 

Talk to your funeral director

The first tip is to keep lines of communication open with your funeral director. They’re the most experienced person on your side, and they have navigated holding more than one service before. 

They’ll be an outstanding resource for helping you determine what you need for each service and how to start making arrangements. They can also work within your budget to ensure you don’t spend more than you can afford. 

Consider going virtual

If you’re flexible, odds are you’ll have more options for planning multiple services. One alternative to a “traditional” funeral is to host a virtual service. A virtual funeral is one that’s held over some form of livestream or Zoom funeral service, ensuring everyone can be a part no matter where they are. 

You can stream a typical funeral over a livestream or host a livestream funeral at a later date. This is a great option if it’s not safe or practical for loved ones to travel. Virtual funerals bring people together from all over the world. 

Delay the service

Another alternative to hosting more than one funeral is to simply delay the service. Thanks to modern technology, there’s no real need to have the service immediately after the death of a loved one. While this used to be necessary for sanitary reasons, modern funeral homes are equipped to handle this without concern. 

Unless religious customs suggest otherwise, delaying the service could allow enough time for the whole family to travel. There are no specific rules about how long you can delay a funeral. Delaying the service for a few days or even weeks could make a big difference.

Host a repast or at-home service

A repast is an informal get-together hosted after a funeral service. Food and drink are typically serviced, but it’s not as formal as the service itself. It’s a chance to connect and share stories after a memorial without the pressure of cultural or religious traditions. 

Hosting a repast or at-home service is an easy alternative to another funeral service. It still allows the family to grieve together, but it doesn’t require all of the expense of a funeral service at a funeral home or another venue. 

Take your time

A funeral isn’t something that should be rushed. A lot of families might feel pressured to host a funeral service as soon as possible, but there’s really no need. As mentioned above, funerals are for the living. As long as you’re respecting the wishes of the deceased and any cultural traditions, you’re doing it right. 

Funerals are shown to help the family grieve and move on in a productive, healthy way. Taking your time to really process what you want in a service (or services) as well as the type of sendoff you want to have can make all the difference. Don’t undervalue the funeral process. 

Though it might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, a funeral is your last goodbye. Without a funeral, whether it’s large, small, or virtual, it’s hard to find closure after the loss of a loved one. If you need multiple services to get that sense of closure, so be it. Grief is never one-size-fits-all. 

Pay Your Final Respects with Confidence

Sometimes having just one funeral isn’t enough to say goodbye. It’s okay if you need more than one service, whether you choose a celebration of life and a more intimate funeral or if you host an in-person funeral and a virtual service. There are no rules when it comes to grief and healing. Everyone has to follow their own path. 

Hosting multiple funerals is sometimes the most practical choice. It ensures the entire family can be a part of this moment, and it gives time for travel arrangements. It also allows for more variations in customs, traditions, and connection. 

At the heart of every funeral service is remembrance. Someone’s legacy is hard to sum up in a single event, so it makes perfect sense to host multiple funerals or services if the situation warrants it. No matter how you choose to grieve your loved one, make this occasion your own. 

If you're looking for more funeral planning resources, read our guides on funeral processions and alternatives to a funeral.

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