How does a Funeral and a Celebration of Life Differ?

By: Tom Gallagher
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Funerals are definitely the traditional service of laying a loved one to rest as you say your last goodbye. Celebrations of life did not become a preferred service until much later after decades of the customary funeral service we all know very well and have more than likely attended at some point in our lives.


When it comes time to make the tough decision of planning a funeral for a loved one, it is important to know the differences and also the similarities that both these services provide to you and your family. The most important part of any service is that resonates with you and shows a true reflection of who your loved one was and the life they lived. How would they want to be remembered? How would they want their family to mourn? These are the questions to ask yourself as you familiarize yourself with the two.


Firstly, funerals have been around for decades and in more times than once has been shaped around a religious or spiritual belief and custom. Prior to the funeral service a visitation or a viewing is held to pay respects directly the body and say goodbye.


In most cases a funeral is held at a church and is ran by the church officiant who reads bible passages, says prayers, and shares a story about the deceased. Afterward family members and close friends go up to share their stories and talk about their loved one, also known as the eulogy. After the funeral service has ended, the committal service takes place at the gravesite, where final prayers will be said as the casket is lowered into the ground.


With a celebration of life, the vibe is completely opposite and focuses more on the positive side of the loss of a loved one. Family and friends gather together to share stories, memories and look through old photos and videos. Activities are participated in and a final release activity is done to say the last goodbye. In previous situations, a common release activity has been to release a balloon message into the sky.


Celebrations of life can take place at any given time after a loved one has died. There is no timeline on when it should take place because the viewing and burial are done prior to the celebration. Whereas with funerals the service takes pace up to 4 – 10 days after the death has occurred.


If you have any other questions or would like to speak to our professionals here at Nutmeg State Cremation Society, you can contact us here.

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