Funeral Service versus Memorial Service

Every culture and civilization has some type of funeral ceremony that defines the rituals and customs related to death. Evidences prove that funerals have great significance in our society and it helps the survivors to adjust spiritually, emotionally and socially after someone has passed away.

When a person dies, a funeral is organized in order to honor and pay last tributes to a soul departed from this world. But in recent years, more and more people choose to hold memorial services instead of funerals. This is mainly happening due to the change in attitudes regarding death and dying amongst people throughout the United States. Also in the United States cremation is getting popular day by day as compared to burial.

Today, both the terms funeral service and memorial service are used interchangeably but in reality they are not the same. Many people combine both the services into one service and held it shortly after a person has died. However, both are separate services and there are significant differences between both the services.

Traditionally, a funeral ceremony takes place with the presence of the body of the deceased. This is why it is planned within a few days after the death of a person. All the necessary arrangements are required to be done within a very limited time with the help of a funeral director. On the other hand, a memorial service is done without the presence of the body. There is no need to plan a memorial service immediately after the death of a person. It can be held months or even years after a person has died as a way of remembering the life lived by the deceased. In fact, a memorial service is a great and also a convenient way to pay tribute to your loved one.

Another main difference between a funeral service and a memorial service is the presence of a casket. Usually a funeral is planned in a traditional manner where special attentions are given to embalming, viewing, caskets, or transportation.  In a funeral service, the presence of a casket is a must as the body of the deceases is features wither in a closed or open casket. But is the case of a memorial service there is no need of a casket. During a memorial, a cremation urn containing the ashes of the deceased are usually used but a memorial service without an urn can also be planned. Even a simple photograph of the deceased is enough to plan a memorial service.

Also a funeral service is a very formal function, whereas a memorial service can be described as an informal function. A traditonal funeral service has a structured order of events that need to be given due importance. Here the body of the deceased needs to be prepared along with embalming, viewing, special prayers, obituaries, eulogies and so on. Whereas a memorial is a less formal event and people can plan it in different ways. While planning a memorial service, family members of the deceased can give it a personal touch by keeping in mind the likes and dislikes of the deceased.

Another important element that makes a huge difference between a funeral and a memorial service is the cost factor. A funeral service involving the burial of the body can be very expensive. For planning a funeral, you need to take help of a funeral home and the services offered by them. The cost of a funeral mostly depends upon the type of services you are planning to use and the location which can be cemetery, chapel or church. On the other hand a memorial service is more economical as it does not involve embalming, caskets, urns, or transportation. Also it can be planned on your own and can be organized in a park, a private home or any other comfortable gathering place. This makes the cost of a memorial service very less.

There are also significant differences between the purpose behind organizing a funeral service and a memorial service. During a funeral, a short service is held by a priest or a minister; small speeches are made by family members and close friends of the deceased and then the body is taken for final disposition which can be either burial or cremation. On the other hand, the only purpose behind planning a memorial service is to give a tribute to the life of the deceased. Here family members and close friends gather together to celebrate the life of the deceased.

To conclude, the decision regarding whether to plan a funeral service before the body of the deceased is cremated or buried or to plan a memorial service after some time should be taken by the immediate family members of the deceased. In case the wishes of the deceased are known then the family members must follow them.

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