When someone passes away, they get transported to a funeral home or a mortuary, where they are taken care of until the burial or cremation. At the same time, the family and friends plan a memorial service to honor the deceased's life. So, what is the difference between a funeral home and a mortuary? And which one should you choose for yourself or your loved one?

The answer is that a mortuary generally offers a less comprehensive service, but the body can likely be cremated there. But while this general guideline is true, every funeral home or mortuary is different, and the services offered vary. Let's have a closer look at the differences between the two and then discuss what you can expect at Sunset Hills.

What Is the Difference Between a Funeral Home and a Mortuary?

There are very few differences between funeral homes and mortuaries. Both of them are designed to help people prepare and care for someone who has passed away. They can help your family decide whether cremation or traditional burial is best and then file the relevant paperwork in your area. Often, they will also plan and prepare a memorial service for your loved one.

Despite the many similarities, the emphasis on service is different. A mortuary is less all-encompassing, but it usually includes onsite cremation. On the other hand, many funeral homes don't offer cremation, but they have a more comprehensive service for the family. Whether you're looking to plan your own funeral or a family member has recently passed away, you should research various local options before making a decision.

What Does a Mortuary Offer?

Most mortuaries place more of an emphasis on the deceased and the science of caring for them than on their family. Therefore, the services tend to be quicker and more to the point. For example, you might only be offered a brief viewing before the body is prepared for the grave. Although some mortuaries offer full memorialization services, many others don't. There may or may not be a funeral director involved.

Unlike funeral homes, mortuaries generally have on-site cremation, so the body doesn't have to be moved to a different institution. Mortuaries offer their services at very reasonable rates. Therefore, this option could be right for you if you're looking for a very simple end-of-life ceremony that doesn't break the bank.

What Does a Funeral Home Offer? 

A funeral home provides mourners with a more comprehensive service, and it could be suitable if you'd like to invite the deceased's extended circle to the funeral. You will be assigned a funeral director to help you plan and execute the various aspects of memorialization. This individual is trained in grief counseling, so they will be able to help the whole family during the initial stages of loss.

There is a wide range of options at most funeral homes. You can plan a very simple and intimate ceremony or organize a celebration of life with hundreds of guests, elaborate catering options, and entertainment. In addition, funeral homes offer various gifts such as jewelry and flowers, and they can help you put together mementos like videos and booklets. Because most funeral homes don't cremate at the premises, the body will be transported away.

Is Sunset Hills Considered a Funeral Home or a Mortuary?

Given the difference between a funeral home and mortuary, what type of institution is Sunset Hills? What can you expect from us? At Sunset Hills, our official title is "Memorial Park and Mortuary," but we offer a much wider range of services than the average mortuary.

Therefore, you can think of us as a funeral home that also offers various cremation packages. Because we want to tailor the funeral to the individual's needs, we offer many packages and add-on options, and you can choose anything from a simple cremation to a full-service burial. When you work with us, you're sure to find what you're looking for.

What Services Can You Expect? 

We know that the time after a loved one passes away is extremely hard, so we aim to make the process as simple as possible. When you contact us, we will pair you up with an experienced and compassionate funeral director who can discuss your situation and help you find the best solution. Because everyone is different, there is a wide variety of plans available, including ones that cater to different religions, age groups, and interests.

Help with the Decision-Making Process 

It can be extremely challenging for families to plan and execute an effective service just after their loved one has passed. Therefore, we encourage everyone to sit down with a funeral director and discuss what they would like their own funeral to look like. By pre-purchasing a package, you can take the financial and emotional strain off your family and make sure your funeral is exactly what you would have wanted.

Even if your loved one didn't leave behind any instructions, you can make the memorialization service personal. Together with the director, you will reflect on the deceased's life and decide which elements you'd like to encompass. For example, you can use our 1947 Cadillac hearse if the family member was a fan of old-timers, or you could scatter their ashes in nature if they liked to spend a lot of time outdoors. When working with us, almost anything is possible.

Planning the Service 

One of the first things you'll have to decide is whether to have the body cremated or buried. While more and more people are now choosing cremation, both options can work well. Cremation is generally less costly and more environmentally friendly, but burial is considered more traditional, and it can be a good option for families who would like to go the traditional route.

When it comes to the service itself, you can select exactly what you would like. In the past, most funerals were very formal and included a visit to the church and a subsequent get-together, but this isn't necessarily the case anymore. Nowadays, many people are looking for a more relaxed service that is tailored to their individual interests and values. For example, some of our customers instruct their guests to wear bright colors or organize a themed celebration.

Transportation Options 

The body is usually transported to its final resting place during the service. This can be done with a normal funeral coach, but there are several other options. As mentioned above, we have a 1947 Cadillac hearse, which is available to all our customers. Similarly, there is a horse-drawn hearse. This could be a particularly good solution if children are attending the funeral, since they may be able to approach and pet the horses.

It's also worth noting that we offer special veteran burial packages to members of the US military. If the deceased served our country, there will be no charge to use the horse-drawn hearse, as we would like to honor them and thank them for their service.

Grief Counseling 

Losing someone you love is one of the most difficult life events. While it is universal and affects almost everyone at some point, it can be deeply traumatic. To help you during the initial stages of loss, we provide an online counseling service that allows you to work with professionals, speak to others who are currently grieving, and access our resources and videos 24/7.

You can sign up for our daily email affirmations, download our grief support guide, or join GriefNet, a community that helps people deal with traumatic loss. What's more, your funeral director is trained in grief counseling, so they will be able to walk alongside you as you go through this challenging period of life.

Tokens that Honor Life 

The funeral is an extremely important day because it helps you come to terms with your bereavement and say goodbye to someone you love. However, it is fleeting. After it's over, you'll want something to remember your friend or family member by.

We can create a variety of mementos that honor your loved one's life. For example, we are happy to put together a video or booklet that includes photos and stories from their life, and we will create beautiful funeral invitations that can be cherished for years to come. What's more, we will set up a website for your friend or family member, where everyone can share their memories and reminisce about the good times.

There are various institutions that take care of deceased people and help the family create a memorable service that honors their lives. The two most common options are funeral homes and mortuaries, both of which provide various packages. The difference between a funeral home and a mortuary is that the former generally offer more comprehensive services, while the latter provides onsite cremation.

At Sunset Hills, we can help you plan your own funeral, or we can work with you to put together a memorialization service for your deceased loved one. When you get in touch, you will be paired with a highly experienced funeral director, who will come up with some ideas that suit your situation. Call us today at Sunset Hills in Apple Valley, CA to learn more about our packages and book your initial consultation.