Your Guide to Funeral Planning | 11.18.2022

Deciding between hosting a Memorial vs. Funeral Service

Deciding between hosting a Memorial vs. Funeral Service

Reviewed By: Scott Ginsberg

Cross Checked By: Elizabeth Siegel

Memorial Service Vs Funeral

What is a Memorial?

A memorial is an alternative way of remembering the deceased. Memorials can be joyful occasions where family members share and cherish the memories of the deceased.

What is a Funeral Service?

A funeral service is a traditional way of bidding farewell to the deceased. It may include certain religious rituals as well as burial or cremation.

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How is a Memorial different from a Funeral Service?

  • Funerals take place shortly after death; Memorials can take place any time.

Traditionally, funerals are held almost immediately after death, and memorials are held a few weeks later.

  • Memorials need not include the deceased’s body, unlike Funeral Services.

Typically, the deceased’s body is present during funeral services, but this is not the case with memorials. Memorials usually have an urn with the cremated ashes of the deceased or their portrait.

  • Funerals happen at Funeral Homes; Memorials can happen anywhere.

Usually, funerals take place at a religious place or a funeral home, to cremate or bury the deceased’s body. In contrast, memorials offer more choice in the location where they can be hosted such as a beach, a park, or any favorite family spot.

  • Funerals have a solemn atmosphere; Memorials can be joyful occasions.

Funerals take place almost immediately after the deceased’s death and include the burial or cremation of their body, hence, they are a rather solemn affair. Memorials, however, can take place a few weeks after the death, allowing family members time to process their grief and host an occasion to celebrate the good memories of the deceased.

  • Funerals happen only once; Memorials can happen multiple times.

Typically, funerals happen only once, that is, shortly after the deceased’s death. However, memorials can take place periodically to remember the deceased. For example, some families hold annual memorials to honor and remember their deceased. 

  • Memorials need not conform to Religious Requirements, unlike Funeral Services.

Funerals usually have to abide by certain religious requirements, depending upon the faith of the deceased. However, memorials offer more flexibility, and fulfilling religious requirements is not a necessity.

How is a Memorial similar to a Funeral Service?

  • The Attendees remain the same.

No matter which event you opt for, the people attending them will remain the same. The slight difference is that you may be able to invite more people to a memorial than a funeral service.

  • Both may include certain types of Music.

Music can convey what words cannot. The music reflects the atmosphere of the event. The music at memorials can be relaxed, however, the music at funeral services is likely to be grave.

  • Both may include Eulogies.

Eulogies are a way of remembering and sharing the memories of the deceased. A eulogy can be delivered at both events, with the only difference being in tone.  Eulogies delivered at funerals are typically more somber than the ones delivered at memorials.

  • Both can provide sentimental fulfillment.

At the end of the day, both a memorial and a funeral service are meant to bring the family together to honor the deceased. Whatever feels right to you, is the correct decision in this case.

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Deciding between hosting a Memorial vs. Funeral Service.

  • The deceased’s wishes must come first.

In case the deceased made their wishes known when they were alive, then the ideal course of action is to honor their wishes.

  • Consider your family’s preferences, next.

It is wise to consider your family’s preferences to make a decision that satisfies all the family members of the deceased.

  • Consider the cost difference.

Traditional funerals expenses can be way costlier than memorials, hence, consider your budget while making the decision.

  • Consider the limitations of time and location.

If the deceased passed away very recently, then you might prefer a funeral since memorials don’t require the deceased’s body. However, if you’re running short on time, then you can opt for a memorial since funerals take a long time to plan. Furthermore, funerals are typically held at funeral homes, but if you prefer a larger or more scenic location, then a memorial may be the way to go.