Choosing a Venue for a Funeral or Memorial Service
When you were growing up, did you need to choose a funeral home to hold a funeral or memorial service or did you live in a community where the wake or community gathering took place at home and the casket went directly from the house to the church for a funeral service? Over the past decades the funeral industry has pressured bereaved families to use the formal funeral parlor for visitations and memorial services. However, with a bit of forethought, families may find that Ottawa has many gracious buildings which can be rented for an intimate memorial service or for a larger more traditional funeral. The cost of renting these spaces is often much less than rates charged by a funeral home. They may also allow more flexibility in choosing catering, music, audio/visual presentations or other creative elements the family may want to incorporate into the final celebration of life.
If your family is already connected to a faith community, enquire with your faith leader about facilities which can be used for a visitation, funeral, or post- funeral catered event. Some churches will rent space to people who are not part of their congregation but are looking for a traditional setting to hold a funeral. Some will allow alcohol to be served if a toast is offered during a reception.
If a relative has spent their final years in a care facility, the family may be comforted to learn that they can usually use the community room and catering service for funeral/memorial gathering for a deceased resident. Cost is usually minimal as a final honour to a long-time resident, and elderly friends and staff who have know them will find it easier to participate in a service held on the premises. The most ‘traditional’ funeral of all is the one held in the family home. Some condos and apartment buildings have beautiful community rooms which can be rented for memorial services or receptions. Families have also organized unique celebrations at their cottage, an art gallery, a community events space, or another unique location. The Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa arranged for the first funeral for a Veteran to be held at the War Museum.
In 2010, when the founding directors of the Funeral Co-operative were consulting on how to create a not-for-profit funeral business in Ottawa, they decided to develop a model that would keep expenses low but still provide a dignified and meaningful setting for funerals and memorial services. Building a funeral home or purchasing an existing facility would have burdened the co-operative with debt and maintenance costs which would have made it impossible for the fledgling Co-operative to keep down costs for its membership. As residents of Eastern Ontario, the directors knew that the city already had an abundance of beautiful facilities, some public and some privately owned, many of which could provide a superb setting for both traditional funerals or more secular memorial services. With this in mind the Funeral Co-operative chose to locate in a modest ‘store front’ where the funeral director could work with a variety of local venues to accommodate groups of any size. At the request of its membership, our Co-operative has also recently expanded to offer an intimate space for funeral services, visitations and memorial gatherings on our site.
Whatever type of funeral or memorial you are considering, give some thought to the variety of venues available, including non-traditional ones or sites that might have been particularly meaningful to the deceased and which will make the final celebration of life truly memorable. Our funeral director would be happy to make arrangements on your behalf.
Beverlee McIntosh is a retired social worker and founding member of the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa, and offers monthly presentations on Consumer Information on Funeral Planning in Ontario through the Co-operative. Contact Info@fco-cfo.coop to register for an upcoming presentation.