Funeral vs. Memorial Service

Response: Increasingly, the two terms are used interchangeably, especially with cremation growing in popularity making it easier to move the remains of the deceased. Traditionally, funerals take place with the body or the ashes of the deceased person present. Memorial services have been ceremonies without the presence of the body although an urn containing the ashes may be present. Funerals are usually held immediately following death whereas memorial services may take place weeks or months away. In the past, memorial services also have been less formal than funerals with greater participation by family and friends. This is changing, however, as funerals are becoming less centered on the leadership of one person. Memorial services do not necessarily take place in a funeral home or religious setting. They may be held in the home or other comfortable gathering place. Funerals are most often held in traditional settings (cemetery, chapel or church) and are often followed by a graveside service. In the future, “funerals” and “memorial” services will both be used to describe the service of celebrating death.

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