Designing a Healing Experience for You.
A funeral represents an opportunity for family and friends to reflect on the life of their loved one, and to honor the memory of their life. Funerals provide a time for sharing in its deepest sense. During this time, we want to serve you by helping carry the burden you are experiencing. Our heart’s desire is to create a home that makes this walk a little easier for you.
Because we are family-owned, we take seriously listening to your needs and getting to know your family, as wells as who your loved one was while living. We feel sharing stories helps step into loss in a gentle way. Our staff treasures the relationships we develop with families and these experiences produce results worthy to represent your loved one’s life. We want you to know what is important to your family is important to our family and we will be here to see you through.
Below is some information to help guide you to choose the best service package for your family.
Burial Service or Cremation?
If your loved one’s wishes were made known, it is important to honor them in their burial preferences. However, if they were not stated in a will or pre-planned arrangements, it can be a difficult decision. Our Funeral Directors can discuss the pros and cons of traditional casket burial verses cremation and help you find the perfect way to honor your loved one.
- A Burial Service involves selecting a casket, vault, and a location where you want your loved one to be laid to rest. Typically, a monument or marker is also positioned at the gravesite as a memorial. There are many ways to customize a burial experience including holding a funeral service or a memorial service; a visitation or viewing; a graveside service; and or committal service.
- A Cremation Service is the process of returning the body to ashes, or cremains, as a form of disposition. Cremation may require embalming if the body is going to be openly viewed during a funeral or visitation. If you choose a cremation, it is important to decide where the cremated remains will be placed (for example, at home, in a mausoleum, or in a cemetery); if they will be scattered (for example, at sea or in a home memorial garden); and what type of container you want to hold the cremains. Our Funeral Directors know the rules for placement and scattering in Texas and can help you customize an experience that meets your families wishes.
Funeral Service or a Memorial Service?
The type of service chosen determines whether the body is present during the service or removed.
- A Funeral Service is a service where the deceased’s body is present and often takes place at the funeral home chapel or at your place of worship.
- A Memorial Service is a service where the deceased’s body is not present. These services have more flexibility in the timing and location of the service. Families can choose whether to have a public or private service and the location can be inside or outside of the Funeral Home, like a Church, or in non-traditional venues like a community park, theater, sports arena, or museum. It is not uncommon for people to memorialize their loved ones in multiple settings. Having a service shortly following the death, and then later gather to scatter ashes or do an activity in honor of their loved one, like planting a tree or going to a destination.
Celebration of Life Service
A Celebration of Life Service isn’t limited to a specific type of funeral arrangement. The purpose of the service is to celebrate your loved one’s life in a way unique to your family and cultivates an atmosphere of connection and healing. Most services today include celebrating at their essence and foster sharing memories, laughing, remembering, and connecting. Celebration can be incorporated in a traditional funeral service or a memorial service that engages participants to share over a meal and viewing photographs. These celebrations can be held at the Funeral home or a special place in community.
A Committal Service is held at the gravesite and can accompany both a graveside or funeral service. These services allow family and friends the opportunity to gather to commit a loved one to the earth and say a final farewell together.
It often is customary to have a period of visitation at the funeral home called a “viewing.” The visitation provides a dedicated time for the family to receive visitors at the funeral home. People want to offer their condolences and provide support to the family, as well as pay their respects to your loved one. One benefit to holding a visitation is that it gives friends a specific time period in which to call, allowing the bereaved family time to rest at home, an option especially important after a long illness or a lengthy hospital vigil. During the visitation the casket may be present and either open or closed, according to the family’s preferences. Also, visitations may accompany cremation services whether the casket or urn are present.
Personalizing Your Experience
Each customer’s experience is unique and personalized to reflect their loved one. Our guiding you is so much more than planning the traditional elements of your service– like choosing a casket and service type, deciding who is speaking at the ceremony, providing ways people can express their sympathy, such as flowers or donations to a favorite charity. Our goal is to help you plan an experience that reflects the true essence of who your loved one was and include unique ways to honor these qualities.
Sometimes having friends and family members share stories about what your loved one meant to them or others becomes a natural course for comfort and healing to flow. Other paths integrate special music, pictures, videos, and treasured belongings into the ceremony. To give you some ideas, here are two customers we’ve helped and how they created a special memorial.
The Mackie Gmitter celebration incorporated Mackie’s love for motorcycles and concluded with a balloon release. The Struhall’s celebration involved branding their grandpa’s casket with the family brand and showcasing their grandma’s artwork in an exhibit at the funeral home. Whatever is special to your loved one and made them unique is how they deserve to be remembered. We will help you design a life honoring event to be treasured forever.
The Mackie Gmitter Celebration
The Struhall Celebration
“Harrell Funeral Home does a good job making you feel at ease and home,” commented Megan Struhall. “Within a four-month time frame, we had to plan a funeral for both my grandmother and grandfather. The funeral directors made it was easy for us to come up with ideas for how to send our loved ones off the right way— the way our family would want to be remembered.”
“Both of my grandparents had an amazing history with Austin, and the Harrell’s let us create a very unique experience for each of them to bring out their rich history in Austin.” Megan recounted how her grandmother was the first “Miss Austin,” and her grandfather developed the Barton Hills neighborhood. Both were influential in making Austin what it is today.
“For my grandmother’s service, we were able to place her artwork all around the funeral home, create slideshows, and bring in whatever nick knacks we wanted to represent her and the history of what she accomplished,” said Megan. “We would call the funeral home and ask to do different things, and they would always say “Do what you want.” “When the funeral home puts you at ease, it makes it really easy to come up with a creative way to remember your loved ones,” exclaimed Megan.
“When my grandfather died, the funeral director and I came up with the idea to brand my grandfather’s casket with his brand.” Megan told us how her grandfather had created a brand to represent the history of his ranch by incorporating the first initials in his full name. She recounted, “He was never able to brand the cattle with his new brand. I thought it would be a great tribute to him to use the brand iron he created and brand his casket. Jason didn’t know if the casket we had ordered was real wood or fake wood, so he said, ‘Let’s try it and if it doesn’t work we will get you another casket.’ One afternoon, Jason, my brother, and I lit the torch behind the funeral home and torched the brand onto the casket. It was quiet a unique and memorable experience, and the casket turned out really neat. We had as good of a time as we could considering the circumstances. We were all surprised at how amazing the casket came out. It is a memory I will never forget.”
“Harrell Funeral Home made it possible for my grandfather’s legacy to live on and provided a way to send him off with something he and I both cherished. Even today, his brand continues to be one way his legacy is living on with all of our family and friends,” said Megan. “I have ordered several gifts with the brand on it. Little did we know the brand would continue to go on long after he was gone. With both of my grandparents, the funerals were absolutely amazing, and I can’t thank the Harrell’s enough for the meaningful experience.”