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Is a Memorial Service the Same as a Funeral Service?

Published: March 31, 2023

How are memorial and funeral services similar?

When a loved one passes away, it's important to surround them with caring friends, family members, coworkers, etc. Very often, people will opt to hold both a funeral and a memorial service for the deceased.

We know what a lot of you are thinking: Aren't those two things the same? Well, they both have structure and are meant to honor a deceased loved one, but there are definitely some differences.

Here's a quick overview of each:

Funeral Service

Traditional funeral services typically take place at an actual funeral home, and the deceased is present in the casket. This type of service is usually associated with religion, which means that it’s being led by a clergyman or clergywoman. In a funeral service, guests are normally there only to observe and reflect, not to actually participate in the service except for maybe a few speakers made up of family and/or friends.

Memorial Service

A memorial service is very similar, but with a few small differences. First, the deceased will not be present in a casket, although the service may include an urn with the cremated remains if the loved one had chosen a cremation.

Memorial services have structure but are often more casual than a traditional funeral service. Instead of a member of the clergy, it may have either a celebrant or master of ceremonies instead. Finally, all guests are typically allowed to participate if they wish.

Benefits of Holding a Memorial Service 

A memorial service can act as an extension to a funeral service or as a completely separate entity held days or even weeks following a funeral. Very often, however, a memorial service takes place at a separate location almost immediately after a funeral. If you're thinking about holding a memorial service, you may be interested in these benefits:

Allows People to Pay Tribute

The most obvious benefit of holding a memorial service is that it allows people to pay tribute to their deceased loved ones. How exactly this is structured will be determined by the person who's hosting the service. Some people may simply show up to offer their condolences, while others may share their favorite stories about the deceased.

Can Be a More Private Affair

Whereas a funeral service is basically for anyone who wants to attend and pay their respects, a memorial service can be a more private affair. It isn't typically invitation-only, because that might not be exactly right, but it may be a service that's primarily limited to the loved one's closest family members and friends. That being said, many people offer the memorial service to everyone who attended the funeral.

Time of Caring and Sharing

There's often a misconception that a memorial service is primarily for the deceased. The truth is that the service is done for family and friends who want to pay their respects. This is a time for caring and sharing about a common loss, meaning that guests are able to comfort and support each other during this extremely difficult time. Sharing each other's pain and sadness will help the healing process.

More Flexible Structure

Although a memorial service does have structure, it's a lot less formal than a traditional funeral service. In fact, some memorial services are extremely relaxed, to the point where guests are encouraged to dress comfortably instead of in their best clothes. Although there may be an itinerary, many hosts play it a little fast and loose. Trust us when we say that nobody will complain.

You Can Host It Anywhere

If you're planning a funeral service, it's likely to take place at a Florida funeral home. A memorial service, on the other hand, can basically be held anywhere. It generally takes place at a person's home, but you can host it at the deceased's favorite restaurant or other beloved location. People have even held very relaxed memorial services at theme parks and bowling alleys.

Offers a Sense of Closure

Lastly, a memorial service gives guests a sense of closure. This is true of funeral services, too, but there's a different feel that can sometimes be difficult to explain. It's likely due to the relaxed nature of a memorial service. This enables people to take their grief and turn it into something positive. For many, a memorial service is where the healing process truly begins.

Contact Holloway Funeral Home for Funeral and Memorial Services

As you can see, a memorial service is not the same as a funeral service, although they do share similarities. Holloway Funeral Home in Oldsmar and Tampa can serve as the location for either type of service. If you have any questions or would like an estimate, reach out to us at (813) 855-2439 today.

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