5 Differences between a Memorial Service and a Funeral

Burning Candles with Purple Flowers at Funeral Memorial Service


Losing a loved one is an inevitable part of life but it’s never easy. In times of grief, it can be difficult to make important decisions, one of them being the type of service to hold for your loved one. Often, people use the terms “memorial service” and “funeral” interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. It’s essential to understand the differences between the two to ensure that you choose the right type of service that reflects your loved one’s wishes and provides comfort to those left behind.

The Timing of the Service

Typically, a funeral service is held within a few days after the death has occurred, while a memorial service can be scheduled at any time, even weeks or months after the individual has passed away. With a funeral, the body of the deceased is present during the service, whereas with a memorial service, the body is not present, and the focus is on the memories and life of the individual.

The Type of Service

A funeral usually follows a religious or cultural tradition and is often held in a church or funeral home. It typically includes scripture readings, music, eulogies, and a burial or cremation. In contrast, a memorial service can take on various forms, and there are no specific religious or cultural requirements. It can be held almost anywhere, from parks and community centers to private homes, and can include anything from storytelling to music and photos.


Funerals tend to be more expensive than memorial services, due to the embalming process, the purchase of a casket, and other expenses associated with the burial or cremation. A memorial service, on the other hand, can be less costly and can provide greater flexibility in regard to the type of service, venue, and other aspects that may require adjustments.


Funeral services often follow a religious or cultural practice, and it may exclude those who are not members of that particular
community. Memorial services provide a way to include all of the deceased person’s family members, friends, and acquaintances, and give everyone a chance to share their memories in a way that feels comfortable and inclusive for all attendees.

After the Service

After the funeral, there is usually a procession to the cemetery or mausoleum, where the deceased will be laid to rest. Often, this
is followed by a repast, where the family convenes to share a meal. Typically, after a memorial service, guests gather to share memories and enjoy a meal together while they celebrate the life of the individual in their own unique way.

Understanding the difference between a memorial service and a funeral is an essential aspect of preparing for the end-of-life arrangements. Both types of services serve their own unique purposes and can provide comfort and closure to different people in different ways. The type of service you choose depends on the wishes of your loved one and the preferences of those left behind. Whatever type of service you choose, remember that it is a tribute to your loved one’s life, and should be conducted in a way that best
represents their wishes, personality, and life.

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