A key part of any funeral is an event that celebrates and memorializes the person who has died.
The events have many names and come in formal and informal formats. They can be solemn or a have an upbeat celebration. They can also be secular or religious. They can also be held before a burial or cremation or afterwards. There are many variations and choices. Here is a summary of the most common funeral ceremonies and how they compare.
Funeral Events Comparison
|Event||Description||Scheduled||Mood||Religious/Secular||Casket or Urn|
|Faith-based service||Religious service held at church, mosque or temple||Before burial or cremation, but sometimes after||Solemn||Religious||Usually Present|
|Memorial service||Service held at church, mosque or temple, or funeral chapel||After burial or cremation||Solemn||Usually secular, but can include religious elements||Not present|
|Secular service||Memorial service held at funeral home chapel||Before or after||Solemn||Secular, but can be religious||Either can be present|
|Graveside committal||Graveside service at burial||Burial of casket or ashes||Solemn||Either||Present|
|Celebration of life||Social Gathering/Memorial||Any time after cremation||Usually less formal/upbeat||Usually secular||Not present|
|Wake||Social Gathering/Service||Before burial/cremation||Informal/Formal||Often religious, Can be secular||Usually present|
|Repast/Repass||Social Gathering||After faith service||Less formal||Either||Not present|
In this collection of articles, we have provided information that will help you choose your own way of remembering your loved one and celebrating their life.
Memorial vs funeral: What is the difference?
When someone dies, you may be invited to attend their funeral or their memorial.
Sometimes it is not clear what the difference is. In this memorial vs funeral article, we'll define each end-of-life event and explain the difference.
What is a funeral visitation or viewing?
A funeral visitation or viewing is a funeral event where attendees greet the deceased person's family and offer condolences. The body is typically present in an open or closed casket. Learn more about funeral visitations and viewings and the etiquette around attending them.
What is a celebration of life?
One of the increasingly common funeral events is a celebration of life. This less formal and often upbeat events is a gathering of friends and family and sometimes work colleagues to celebrate the life of a person close to them who has died. The wonderful thing about this kind of funeral event is that it focuses on the person's life and time spend with attendees, including reminiscences and cherished memories. Learn more about what a celebration of life event is and how to organize one. Plus read how to honour a loved one after cremation.
What is a repast or repass?
In the context of a funeral, a repast is a reception with food and drink provided after a funeral service. Some people refer to it as a repass, but a repass and repast is the same thing. Learn more about a repast here.
What is a wake?
A wake is a funeral event that was traditionally held to watch over a deceased person's body until they were buried. Today a wake is a term used to refer to a funeral gathering or reception sometimes in connection to a visitation or viewing of the person that has died. Learn more here.
What is interment?
This graveside funeral event is to put the remains of a person who has died to rest, usually in a grave, mausoleum or columbarium. Read more about interments.
Readings, prayers and poems for funerals
A key component of a funeral or celebration of life is readings, prayers, oral recitals and poems read by mourners and funeral attendees. Here are severla resources we have published to help you choose a soulful, celebratory or memorial reading at an event you are attending or organizing:
1) Poems & Passages for Secular Funeral or Memorial
2) Best Bible Verses for Funerals and Ash-scattering Ceremonies
How to write a eulogy
It is common for family or friends to sometimes speak at a funeral to memorialize the deceased person in a short, and heartfelt speech in front of the gathering. This can be delivered at a church or other religious places of worship as well as a secular event commonly held at a funeral home's chapel. Eulogies can be happy or sad, or a mix of both. They can include stories and anecdotes. And they can be brief or run a bit longer for 10 to 15 minutes. Here is how to write a eulogy and here is why you should consider writing your own eulogy.
There are a variety of social norms that dictate what people should do, and say at a funeral, and even how to dress. In these articles we cover much of these kinds of topics:
Basic funeral etiquette tips
What to say at a funeral or when someone dies
What to wear at a funeral
What to say to a grieving friend when someone dies
What color and type flowers should be chosen for a funeral?
Funeral rituals and traditions
Here is a collection of funeral traditions and rituals from around the world that are quite beautiful and inspiring. Click to read.