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What is the difference between a funeral service and a memorial service Part 2

There are several ways to celebrate the life of a deceased loved one.

In part 1 of this blog I mentioned that a funeral service means that the body of the deceased is present at the service.  Now I will go over the details of a memorial service and the primary difference between a funeral service and a memorial service.

A memorial service means that the body of the deceased is not present at the celebration of life.  The deceased may have been buried or cremated prior to the memorial service.  Or in other more tragic circumstances, the body of the deceased may not be available to hold a funeral service and the family elects to have a memorial service instead.

Visiting is very common with a memorial service.  Visiting could be a day or two before or a few hours prior to the memorial service on the same day.  Visiting is not obligatory, yet many families value this time to have the support of their family and friends.

A family could hold a memorial service in addition to or in place of a funeral service.  For instance, the family may elect to hold a funeral service in the town where the deceased lived and died. Then hold a memorial service at a later date in the town where the person was born.

Whether you prefer a funeral or a memorial service, the important piece is to think through how you would like your life to be celebrated.

Take a quiet moment and ponder what this looks like for you.  Then take massive action.  Set up your plans and prefund them at the funeral home of your choice.  Finally, let your family know you have done this, especially your Estate Trustee.  Do not include your funeral or memorial services in your will, as the will is typically read after the celebration of life.

One family comes to mind that experienced this unfortunate issue.  When their father died they had no idea how he wanted his life celebrated.  They discussed this and elected to have him cremated and then held a memorial service.  Later when they read his will, they found out he had wanted to be buried – oops!  Unfortunately cremation is irreversible and this family had to live with their decision.

Don’t put your family is this position.  Take charge of your celebration of life and set it up the way you want now.

If you are unsure where/how to start, then I invite you to connect with me.  I work with my clients to make this process easier and to avoid any headaches during an already emotional time after the deceased has passed.  To help start the discussion, I offer a free consultation to see the available options and how to get started preplanning.

I would love to hear from you.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!


Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

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  1. […] mentioned that a funeral service means that the body of the deceased is present at the service. In part 2 I mentioned that at a memorial service the body is not present.  Now, I will explain what a […]

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