Types of Funeral Services: Your Complete Guide

By Memories31 March 2021

Funeral Services types

Funerals are a sad time, but they can also be an opportunity to celebrate a person's life. The type of funeral service you choose will depend on your culture and beliefs, the level of formality you want for the occasion, and whether or not there is a religious aspect to it.

In this blog, we’ll be covering:

  1. What are the different types of funeral services?

  2. Memorials

  3. Cremations

  4. Burials

  5. Graveside

  6. Wakes

  7. Funeral service tip

What are the different types of funeral services?

Types Of Funeral Services

Funerals are typically divided into two categories: funeral services and memorial services. Funeral services are the traditional, formal ceremonies where there is a body present. Memorial services are the less formal ceremonies that do not have a body present.

There are many other types of funerals and related ceremonies like burials, cremations and funeral wakes.

Because of changing religious and cultural traditions, as well as variations in societal conventions, funeral ceremonies have developed over time. 

Funerals have also been influenced by current trends, such as green burials and crowdfunded funerals, which have recently gained popularity. Despite the numerous funeral arrangement options available, the tried and true basic funeral services remain.

Memorial services

Memorials

A memorial service is a service that celebrates and remembers the life of someone who has passed away. The service usually consists of a commemoration of the person's life, such as in an obituary. It may also include funeral music, readings or videos. The memorial service is often held shortly after the person dies and can be attended by anyone close to them — friends, family members and coworkers.

A memorial service is usually less formal than a funeral as it does not include the deceased's body. Memorials are typically held a couple of days after someone has passed away and can include family members, friends, clergy members and others.

A memorial ceremony can be located in almost any place you or your loved ones would like. You may consider a special or favourite spot, such as a beach, park, restaurant, or hiking trail. 

A more traditional or religious setting, such as a funeral home, church, or temple, can also be used for the memorial service. 

A memorial service held at your loved one's favourite spot to visit, rather than a church or temple, could be more appropriate if your loved one was a nature-loving adventurer.  It would be a greater reflection of the life that everyone is celebrating. 

If you choose to have a memorial ceremony, here are a few helpful resources:

Cremations

Cremations

Like memorial services, cremation ceremonies do not have a body present. 

Cremation is a final disposition of a body using the process of burning to reduce it to ashes, which are then placed in an urn or another container. 

Cremation urns can be made of metal, ceramic or bronze, and they are often designed to hold a given amount of ash.

When you're deciding on whether or not you want to have a cremation, there are some things you should consider. 

  • Do you want your loved one to be buried at a cemetery? 

  • Do you want them cremated and then buried in a location close to you? 

  • What type of urn will they need? 

  • Will they need more than one urn? 

  • How many people will be able to mourn at the same time during the service? 

  • What sized space will be needed for the cremation ceremony?

Cremations are becoming more popular because they're less expensive than traditional burials and don't require as much land. They typically don't require embalming and can happen quickly, which is helpful when someone dies unexpectedly. Cremations also don't often require any particular religious ceremony to take place.

Burials

Burials

A burial is a type of funeral service where the body of the deceased is buried in the earth.

This is most common in cultures where cremation isn't practised and in places where laws require that the body be buried or cremated.

The location of the burial will depend on the person's religion, culture and personal beliefs. For example, some religions require that the body be buried facing east to symbolize birth, while others who are religious may prefer to have it facing west towards Heaven.

A burial can also include a graveside ceremony if you want your loved ones to gather one last time before burying the deceased. The gravesite may contain a headstone or other memorials so people can remember who was buried there long after their time passes. A burial can take place in a mausoleum or on private property.

Graveside services

Graveside

Although most types of funerals include a graveside service, some people choose to do a committal service

A graveside service is a brief committal service that takes place at the cemetery or crematorium immediately after the funeral service.

The significant advantage of a graveside service is that the event is conducted in its entirety at the graveside, making it perfect for those who wish for privacy.

It’s also a more fitting option for some spiritual and religious beliefs and wishes, as well as lending itself to family tradition.

Funeral wakes

Wakes

The term "wake" refers to a group of people who have gathered to grieve the passing of a loved one. A wake is often conducted a day or two before a funeral service at the house of a close family or friend of the deceased individual. 

The casket containing the deceased's remains is frequently present, but whether the casket is open is normally left to the discretion of the family. Wakes are frequently held in the funeral home where the funeral will take place.

Before the formalities of a funeral service, people might say their final goodbyes to the loved one at a wake. The option to view or visit the person is frequently available, allowing each person time for peaceful, isolated meditation or prayer. Individuals or small groups of people will spend time with the departed person if the casket is kept in a specific room. 

While waiting to see the casket, the other visitors often enjoy a drink or have a quiet conversation. Flowers, photos, and mementos can all be displayed.

Funeral service tips

Get a sense of how much it will cost:

  1. Do you know if your loved one was covered by life insurance? 

  2. Was their final farewell already paid for? 

  3. Is it possible to make payment arrangements? 

Find out more about funeral service costs.

Take time to look after yourself

It's most likely the furthest thing from your mind. After all, you're grieving and attempting to plan your loved one's funeral service at the same time. But how can you accomplish your best work if you don't have enough rest and fuel to get through the days ahead? 

Make sure you're eating enough and getting enough sleep. Follow our dealing with grief and loss blog if you need help with this.

Plan early

Now, let's turn our thoughts to your funeral. Regardless of the sort of funeral you'd choose for yourself, it's critical to begin planning while you're still in good health. 

That way, you and your loved ones can avoid making hurried decisions in the middle of a crisis. 

By making a decision early, you save your loved ones the grief of having to make the decision for you, as well as the possibility of them regretting it later.

If you're struggling with the loss of a loved one, or you want their memory to live on, we provide a free and paid online memorial service to help you remember their life.