Whether you’re planning for yourself or for a loved one, a meaningful service is one of the most important elements of a person’s final arrangements. With the opportunity for great personalization, a service can truly reflect the uniqueness of the life it honors.
People often use the word “funeral” to describe a number of events surrounding final arrangements. So, what is a funeral? In general terms, a funeral is a gathering of family and friends after the death of a loved one that allows them the opportunity to mourn, support each other and pay tribute to the life of the deceased. Funeral services often consist of one or more of the following events:
A formal or informal ceremony or gathering prior to burial, a funeral service often provides a sense of closure to family and friends. Although your faith or culture may dictate some elements of a funeral service, you may want to personalize other elements of the service.
The main difference between a funeral service and a memorial service (also called a tribute service or celebration of life) is that the casket or urn is not present. Many people are now choosing celebrations of life over traditional funerals. Similar to a funeral or visitation, a memorial service gives family and friends a time to come together to honor memories and celebrate life.
Held the night before or immediately prior to the funeral service, the visitation—also known as a wake or a viewing—provides a way for friends to pay respects and offer condolences to your family. As with the funeral service, you can choose an open or closed casket, should one be present.
As its name implies, a graveside service is held at the grave site just prior to burial of a casket or urn. It is usually a smaller service, consisting of final remarks, readings, prayers or memories. A graveside service occurs after or in place of a funeral service. When planning your final arrangements in advance, think about the way you want to be remembered. Perhaps you’d like a traditional funeral aligned with certain religious or cultural customs—or a celebration focusing on great memories made with family and friends. Maybe it’s a combination of both. You can have one service or several, whatever you choose. Locate a Dignity Memorial provider near you to learn about your options.
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