Understanding the Difference between Funeral and Memorial Services
As cultural norms continue to change, the way we handle the passing of loved ones also evolves. Today, there are many ways that people choose to celebrate the lives of those they care about, leading some to question the true difference between funeral services and memorial services. With the introduction of new traditions and burial practices, many professionals may use the terms “funeral” and “memorial” interchangeably. However, there are some key differences that are worth noting if you are attending or planning a funeral or memorial service. Remains Funerals are generally held with the presence of the deceased at the funeral home or religious center where the service is held. After the service, these remains are often buried at a determined gravesite. Funerals also have grown to incorporate cremated remains that are generally presented in an urn, which are then buried, scattered or placed in an above ground columbarium located at a cemetery. Memorial services may sometimes have cremated remains of the deceased present, but typically are reserved for instances where the individual has passed and their remains were not available. For example, the lives of individuals who died overseas while missing or in combat may often be remembered without the presence of the deceased at the service. Timing Funerals traditionally occur soon after the passing of an individual, sometimes days after one has passed away. As cremation becomes a more popular option, many have found that there is more available time to create a flexible ceremony. As such, many professionals within the industry have witnessed memorial services that occur weeks or months after the deceased has actually passed away. Location Funerals are generally held at funeral homes or religious facilities that can accommodate such services. Once these services conclude, they are often followed by graveside burials that are either located at on-site burial grounds or off-site cemeteries. While modern burials may involve either cremated remains or caskets containing the deceased, funeral services still typically refer to burials that occur at cemeteries. Memorial services, however, present greater flexibility as to where services are held. For instance, some may prefer to celebrate the life of a loved one through a memorial service held at a specific place of interest or home of a relative. In addition, memorial services may involve a ceremonial act—such as scattering of ashes—presenting more versatility as to where the event takes place.