Memorial and funeral services have one thing in common; each involves a ritual where individuals say their goodbyes to their loved ones. However, despite this common element, the two services differ. Below is a guide to help you understand the differences between a memorial service and a funeral.
What Is a Funeral Service?
A funeral service comprises a structured ceremony that is commonly held in a funeral home or at the graveside. It often occurs within a week of a loved one’s passing. The main goals of the funeral service are to celebrate the life lived by the departed, acknowledge their passing and bring together family and friends of the deceased to support one another. The interment or disposition of the body occurs after a funeral service.
During the funeral service, community members, family members of the departed and other mourners take time to express and reaffirm their connections to the deceased. In addition, the experienced funeral providers at Southern Cremations & Funerals point out that the funeral service comprises several elements, including:
- Visitation, where a viewing of the body takes place
- Committal service
What Is a Memorial Service?
A memorial service involves a ceremony where the family and friends of the dearly departed honor and memorialize the deceased. This service usually occurs after the burial or cremation has taken place. If cremation has taken place, a memorial service is done to scatter or inter the cremated remains and celebrate the deceased’s life.
In addition, everyone can share their thoughts, memories and feelings of the deceased in a memorial. Some of the elements in a memorial include:
Is a Memorial Service the Same as a Funeral?
A memorial service and a funeral are not the same. For one, a memorial takes place in the absence of the body. It can also take place after burial or cremation. The primary goal of a memorial service is to honor the departed’s life, while the end goal of a funeral is the final disposition of the body, which often involves a burial.
A memorial service also leaves a lot of room for creativity since it occurs after the burial or cremation. It ensures that the family and friends of the departed can take their time to plan the memorial ceremony and determine the different ways they can pay tribute to their loved one.
How Long Are Funerals?
As stated above, a funeral comprises a structured ceremony with a beginning, a middle and an end. This structured ceremony often lasts between half an hour to one hour, where loved ones get time to place funeral flowers at the burial site and say their final goodbyes. The ceremony may last longer if the departed was a public or highly accomplished public figure.
Note that the timeframe for the funeral service does not include the viewing, interment and reception. A viewing can take hours, depending on the scheduled time or program; interment often takes 10 minutes, while the reception can last between one to two hours.
Summing It Up
Even though a memorial and funeral service both have the goal of celebrating the life lived by the departed, they differ. The primary difference is that the body is present for a funeral, but not for a memorial.