How Do I Want To Say Goodbye? The Key Differences Between A Funeral Service, A Memorial Service and A Celebration of Life

These days it can be difficult to navigate the different types of services which are held to remember our dearly departed. In fact it is becoming increasingly common to hold a number of events to mourn the loss of a loved one and celebrate their legacy.

Whether you are planning your own service or planning a service for a loved one, here is a quick breakdown of what you can expect from a funeral, memorial service or celebration of life. 

1. Timing.

Typically a funeral service is held shortly after the death of a loved one and before a burial or cremation.

A memorial or a celebration of life has no such time restraints. They can be held right after a death, weeks later, or months later. It is completely up to the wishes of the individual and their family.

2. Presence of Those Lost. 

Traditionally a funeral service usually includes the presence of your lost loved one throughout the service. This is especially true of religious ceremonies. 

A memorial service, traditionally, did not include the presence of those lost. It was the type of service offered to those families who could not perform a traditional funeral service, as their loved ones were never found or recovered. 

These days what we call a memorial service is much more flexible. A family may wish to have a more intimate committal or burial service and then hold a memorial service soon after for all of their friends and loved ones. 

A celebration of life, like a memorial service, does not usually include the presence of your lost loved one. 

3. Tone & Structure.

Traditionally a funeral or memorial service will include some sort of officiant or celebrant who leads the service. There is an order to it with a number of prepared readings, hymns or favourite songs. These services are typically meant to comfort the mourning immediately following the loss of someone very important to them. Many families or cultural groups feel that it should be a solemn occasion.

A celebration of life is a much more open affair, everyone is invited to take part and share their stories or memories with one another. It has a much more convivial atmosphere. It's for those people who do not want tears at their passing, only fond memories.  

You are not bound to simply choosing one type of service, many families will hold a funeral or private memorial service and later on plan a larger event to remember their loved ones.

The most important aspect of any of these services? It is a time for comfort and saying goodbye. The type of service you choose will be completely dependent upon your personality and the feelings of your friends and family. 

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