Our Frequently Asked Questions section is updated often to reflect recent searches.

Life’s final passage

Most of us might agree with the description of death as a journey, in which the deceased leave the world of the living for the other side. A host of similar images were frequently used by ancient civilizations to represent this journey: roads, pathways, footsteps, bridges, the waterside, shore, boats, rafts, rowboats, bodies of water, mountain passes, caves, underground passages, openings in a room partition, rooms separated by doors, locked doors, openings. We are all mortal. We are all on the journey called life.

Places of remembrance

Those who have died will never come back to us. We bid them farewell as they head to the next world, taking our leave at the crematorium, cemetery, columbarium, or even at a special spot where we feel close to nature. But we cannot truly let go of those we love unless we know it has been done right, and that we can keep them in our hearts for all time. Harmonia offers the bereaved many ways to make those places special for their loved ones, so they can always be kept close.


Grief is the pain we feel after someone close to us dies, the sense of separation and loss we feel at their departure. Grief is universal, inevitable, and can be devastating. Each of us experiences it in our own way. And despite our individual reactions, we work through myriad similar feelings: the sense that things are surreal, intense pain, the anguish of separation, despair, anger (with others and the departed), guilt for not having been more loving, idealization of the departed to avoid developing negative feelings toward them, denial of death, prolonged yearning for the departed, dreams that he or she is still alive. Even if we manage to accept and adapt to the new circumstances in which we find ourselves after a death, we can still be overcome by sadness on birthdays, anniversaries, or other events. At Harmonia, we have found that keeping the focus on good memories can do a great deal to help people deal with their grief.

What services does Harmonia offer to help people deal with grief?

Harmonia offers many ways to keep the departed alive in our hearts and memories. They include respecting the departed’s final wishes; a final viewing of the body; preparation for a memorial service that honors the departed; putting cremated remains in a place of remembrance; recording the deceased’s name and the resting place of his or her cremated remains in a registry; and perpetuating his or her memory with an online death notice, photos, and eulogies; a life history for others who will learn of the death or may be mourning; personalized guest remembrance bookmarks; and a memorial diamond.


The custom of cremation, in which the body of the deceased is consumed by fire, dates back to the stone age. It has been used on all continents through the ages, as has interment, the custom of burying the dead. The Orthodox Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths do not practice cremation. The Catholic Church approved it in 1963. Cremation today has changed greatly from centuries ago. In the 21st century, its objectives, operational modes, and even the way cremated remains are dealt with are different.

How has cremation changed in Quebec?

In 2012 the cremation rate in Quebec was approximately 70%, compared to 2% in 1963, the year when the Catholic Church’s ban was removed by Pope Paul VI in conjunction with Vatican II reforms. Today, over 80% of those making funeral prearrangements opt for cremation compared to other methods.

What are the main reasons for choosing cremation?

Cremation essentially satisfies the needs of our evolving society. Removing the ban against cremation for Catholics in 1963 allowed its popularity to soar in Quebec, where it is viewed as the most environmentally harmonious way to dispose of the bodies of those who have died. The idea of allowing bodies to decompose and their lengthy putrefaction is harder to accept today than in the past. Cremation satisfies the desire for purification. With it, the ability to place ashes in a cinerary urn—with no need to resort to complex exhumation procedures—also simplifies matters. The lack of space in cemeteries and the reasonable cost of cinerary urns also help make cremation a logical choice.

Is a casket required for cremation?

No. Generally a container made of wood or cardboard can be used.

Is it necessary to have a visitation or wake for the deceased?

No, they are less common these days. In 1975 visitations were held for nearly 95% of those who died in Quebec. Today, that figure is barely 25%.

Why are funeral visitations declining?

Various reasons are cited, including the high cost of caskets. Another reason is that 85% of those who die have experienced prolonged stays in medical or healthcare facilities, during which family and close friends can find opportunities to visit before death occurs. And with people living much longer these days, some may expressly state that they don’t wish to have any visitations or wakes.

What is the average price of a funeral with a casket and visitation?

Depending on casket styles, the price of a funeral can run from $4,000 to $12,000. Costs are higher due to the need for embalming, a casket, and a funeral home visitation. The option of cremation, with no casket or visitation, costs 50% to 60% less.

Can a person who dies be cremated if he or she hasn’t specifically expressed the desire beforehand?

It is always best if individuals inform their next of kin of their wishes, including whether they want to be cremated. If someone dies without leaving instructions, such decisions are made by the heirs.

Personalized memorial service

Holding an open service where many can join voices to present individual eulogies memorializing the departed gives us the opportunity to repudiate death. The personalized memorial service can, for a time, banish divisiveness as those who have loved the deceased come together to say their last goodbyes, offer affirmation, and pay their respects. At Harmonia empathy, commitment, support, giving of oneself, and authenticity are part of our code of professional ethics, helping to make this service a memorable event.

What is a personalized memorial service?

A singular ceremony, held by the deceased’s family and circle of friends, that may involve actions, eulogies, music, and items of meaning. It allows those present to give voice to their lasting memories as they say goodbye, eulogizing the departed and talking about his or her talents, personality, and accomplishments.

Do memorial services have to take place in funeral homes or similar facilities?

No, funeral homes are primarily for visitations involving the deceased. But with that custom in decline, funeral directors often rent their facilities for memorial ceremonies.

What is the ideal place for holding a memorial service?

A place that the individual personally selects when making his or her pre-arrangements.

Where might a memorial service be held?

A museum, public park, private residence, cottage, or similar venue, as well as in a chapel or place of worship.

Should the urn be at the church or other place where the memorial service takes place?

Yes, because the service is an opportunity to honor the memory of the departed and the urn will help create the impression that the deceased is present.

Can a religious ceremony be held in a place of worship with the urn present, even if the deceased did not attend services regularly?

Absolutely. In a Léger et Léger survey published by La Presse in November 2005, more than 70% of Quebecers expressed the desire for a religious service after their deaths.

Can a memorial service take place a while after someone has died, or must it be held immediately?

A ceremony involving cremated remains can take place up to a year after the date of death.

Perpetuating memory

While those facing death typically want to know that the record of their lives, accomplishments, feelings, and experiences won’t be forgotten, they generally don’t want to make specific demands where their legacies are concerned. Those who mourn them, however, often need to keep the spirit of the deceased alive—it can be part of the grieving process. That’s why Harmonia has created a way to perpetuate the memory of the deceased. Since we can feel incomplete if we lack knowledge of our forebears or feel that we ourselves won’t be remembered after we’re gone, memories of the departed can be a perpetual source of comfort. They let us learn from the past, fully live in the present, and prepare for what lies ahead.

How can we preserve and keep alive the memories of our loved ones?

We must first accept their existence, then find various ways to perpetuate their memory as long as possible. At Harmonia, whether we are working with you on prearrangements or after a death, we strive to keep the focus on the identity and life of the deceased—not how elaborate the funeral may be.

Are there new ways to keep memories alive?

Harmonia offers the bereaved many new ways to do this. They include final viewing of the body; recording the deceased’s name, origins, and location of cremated remains in an official registry; posting a death notice and selection of photos of the deceased and his or her life online; giving the person who makes prearrangements the chance to select poems that might be read at a memorial service; the ability to draft—before or after death occurs—a life story using an existing outline; and memorial albums.

Why should the name of the deceased, his or her birth information, and the location of cremated remains be recorded in an official registry?

Harmonia has ensured that the identity of those who have died—including birth information, and the location of their cremated remains—has been entered in an official registry, which can be consulted when necessary, since January 1, 1994, when the new Civil Code was implemented by the Government of Quebec. It is now possible to consult registers dating back to 1900 (Act respecting access to documents held by public bodies and the protection of personal information), or at least to make an official request, depending on established rules, and to pay a set amount.

What does “commemorate” mean?

The word “commemorate” refers to thoughtful celebration, engaged in to honor a meaningful person or event. This is what Harmonia helps you do during a personalized memorial service that celebrates the life of the deceased in the way that those in his or her close circle have planned. Harmonia Memorials, online, do the same thing using texts and photos to honor the memory of the departed for all time.

What new ways are there to engage in commemoration?

New tools developed by Harmonia to commemorate the deceased include respecting the departed’s final wishes, preparing a personalized memorial service, placing cremated remains in a place of remembrance and recording the location in an official registry, allowing those in mourning to draft a life story of the departed and prepare a posthumous eulogy using an existing guideline, a memorial album, a personalized guest remembrance bookmark, a memorial diamond, and the preparation of an anniversary ceremony.

What is an anniversary ceremony?

Those who have lost someone dear like a family member, close friend, or neighbor may find that anniversaries—whether marking a birthday, death, or special event—can be emotionally difficult. Depending on your wishes, Harmonia can plan a ceremony to commemorate the departed, helping participants to deal with their sadness and feel at peace.

Final placement of cremated remains

Funeral planning can help survivors organize a farewell. For this occasion, it’s important that all involved make decisions involving cremated remains, primarily where they will be placed and in what. Harmonia offers numerous possibilities. When the destination is selected, Harmonia will note the preference for deposition of cremated remains in a cemetery or legally established cinerary park. Depending on current rules, cremated remains may also be kept outside a cemetery—in a columbarium or on private property, for example—or they can be scattered in the open air. Harmonia always keeps a written record of their destination.

Are there rules governing the placement of cremated remains in Quebec?

No. Legal provisions in effect are quite flexible: nearly anything is possible when it comes to cremated remains, as they do not have the same status as human remains. All or some of the cremated remains can be kept or scattered, depending on the wishes of the deceased or family. However, Harmonia safeguards cremated remains by retaining a written record of their destination, wherever it may be.

Where could an urn be placed?

Cinerary urns may be interred in a cemetery or legally established cinerary park, or placed in a columbarium located within such an establishment. They can also be put at a columbarium that is not part of a cemetery, or kept on private property.

What are some potential destinations for cremated remains?

Currently, at Harmonia cremated remains can be placed in a cinerary urn, a mini souvenir urn, or a reliquary. They can also be incorporated into a gemstone, a memorial diamond. Remains may also be placed in a cemetery or cinerary park located on land used for this purpose, which are often called memorial gardens. They can also be placed outdoors—except on public thoroughfares—in widely known places in Quebec.

Can cremated remains be moved from one place to another?


Is a memorial diamond a genuine diamond?

Today’s modern technology makes it possible to use cremated remains to create a genuine diamond. In this patented process, residual carbon is extracted from remains in a laboratory and transformed into a stone that is molecularly identical to a natural diamond. Harmonia has held Quebec and New Brunswick distribution rights to this process, marketed by LifeGem, since 2002. Only part of the cremated remains are used, and the process is carried out with respect and dignity.

For information, visit www.lifegem.com.

What are some possibilities for scattering ashes outdoors with Harmonia?

The ability to scatter ashes outdoors—whether from the air, on the water, or on foot—is a service offered by Harmonia. Ashes can be scattered in unusual sites renowned for their scenery or their cultural, ecological, or geological significance.

Planning your last wishes

If someone dies without making funeral prearrangements, family members may feel responsible for observing tradition, even if they must incur significant expense. By making prearrangements, you can spare your friends and family from having to make difficult decisions. With Harmonia, planning for your legacy—how you’d like to be remembered—can give you greater peace of mind. Harmonia is devoted to helping people address their concerns about this final phase of life and plan affordable funeral services. At Harmonia, there is no need for embalming, the purchase of caskets, or reliance on funeral homes, as in traditional funerals.

What are prearrangements or prior arrangements?

Prearrangements are a bona fide contract entered into by a funeral establishment and individual to address three funeral-related activities that will be carried out after the death of the latter: How the body will be dealt with, the ceremony for survivors, and the choice of a final resting place.

Can prearrangements be cancelled?

Yes. You may cancel your prearrangements at any time at your discretion. In some cases there is no penalty—if cancellation occurs within 30 days of the contract signing, for instance—or there may be a penalty of up to 10% of the price of the undelivered goods and services described in the contract.

Can a ceremony be planned?

Yes. Everything can be planned, including the place, whether in a house of worship like a church, a cultural venue like a museum or historic site, or even on private property; the presence of the urn; a religious or nondenominational ceremony; the décor, eulogies, and decorations; symbols that suit your vision for this final passage of life, farewell messages you’d like to leave—there’s nothing you can’t plan in advance.