7 Types of Funeral and Memorial Services

Funeral heart near a tree.

Funeral planning is as individual as we are. Some people prefer large celebrations while others want a quiet, solemn remembrance. It may have been your loved one’s wish to be cremated and have ashes strewn in a favorite location. Or he or she may have already requested a favorite hymn to be sung while laid to rest alongside a beloved spouse. Sometimes the important decisions are made in advance, but you may also be starting from the beginning.

Below are descriptions of common types of funeral services that you may choose to honor your loved one:

Traditional Funeral

A funeral is often held in a large venue, such as a church, temple, mosque, funeral home or community hall.  It’s a time for family members, friends and colleagues to come together and pay their final respects.  In some instances, the deceased’s body is available for viewing before being placed in a closed casket during the service.  However, in Judaism and Islam, there is no embalming, viewing, and the burial occurs swiftly, often within 24 hours.  Other faiths also refrain from displaying the body.  Following the funeral service and/or burial, many religions and customs include a gathering where food is shared.

Funeral with Cremation

If your loved one chose to be cremated, you can still plan a full, traditional funeral service or any other type of service you choose.  There can be a viewing (followed by cremation) or there may not be a body present. Cremated remains are often buried in a cemetery, but they can also be returned to the family.

Graveside Service

A brief graveside service is generally conducted at the burial for family members and close friends. A graveside service can also be a stand-alone event to replace the full funeral, with a religious or non-religious service, spoken remembrances and music. It is generally much shorter in length, with family seated and guests standing.

Memorial Service

A memorial service is often held in place of a religious service for people who want to share remembrances. The body of a deceased person would not be present at a memorial service.

Humanist Service and Non-Religious Service

The humanists celebrate the end of life as a final part of a natural process. Their ceremonies include spoken recollections and favorite music. Similarly, atheists make no references to heaven or an afterlife and share remembrances of a loved one with words and music. Funerals or memorial services that included burial or cremation can be conducted as a humanist or non-religious service.

Green Funeral

If your loved one was committed to protecting the environment he or she might request a green funeral which bans embalming and usually commits to a natural process for the remains.

Virtual Memorial Service / Virtual Funeral Service

Virtual services include all the same elements as an in-person service such as: welcoming words from an officiant, prayers and readings, personal remembrances, music and songs and a eulogy. In addition, a Virtual Memorial Service can also feature a slideshow, unlimited recorded candlelight tributes and video tributes. All the participants are entirely online and there is no event venue (e.g., funeral home, church, reception space, etc.).  What makes a Virtual Memorial or Virtual Funeral unique is that everyone, no matter how far away, can participate in the service. Speakers can pre-record tributes or share their tributes live during the service. After the service concludes, everyone is welcome to join an online reception where they can share favorite stories and offer their condolences.

Whichever type of service you choose, BlueButterfly can help; our free Memorial Page is a beautiful complement to any type of service and our funeral planner can be used for an in-person or virtual service.  We also offer a concierge virtual service where you can leave the details to us.  Start building a free online Memorial page today or or schedule a consultation with us to learn more.


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