Your Guide to the Different Types of Funerals and Memorial Services

While dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy, a funeral or memorial service can help to honor them and provide a sense of closure for friends and family.

Various types of end-of-life services exist as different forms of paying our respects to people that have passed away.

Understanding these different forms, and what they may signify, can help with figuring out which service is the most appropriate for you and your loved ones.

Traditional Funeral Service

Traditional funeral services are the most common type of funeral ceremony still held in many different parts of the country.

At this type of service, the casket or urn is present.

Friends and family may choose to sing or play songs in memory of the deceased and someone may deliver a eulogy. These services are often religious in nature, so a pastor will most likely give a sermon.

This may be preceded by a viewing or visitation and followed by a graveside or committal service.

Graveside or Committal Service

As the name suggests, this funeral memorial service takes place at the cemetery. These can be arranged as standalone services or follow a traditional funeral.

In this type of service, family and friends can pay their final respects before the casket is lowered into the ground for burial.

Graveside services usually take the formal route, with a minister or officiant leading the ceremony. A pastor will likely speak a few words of comfort as well, but this service is fairly brief and simple.

Scattering Ceremony

With the growing popularity of cremations, more people are opting to have scattering ceremonies.

A scattering ceremony occurs when the deceased remains are released back into nature.

In most cases, scattering ceremonies are accompanied by a traditional funeral. It can, however, be conducted as a shorter, standalone service as well.

Sometimes the scattering takes place weeks, months, or even years after the death of the individual.


Visitations almost always occur in conjunction with a traditional funeral. But they do act as standalone events on occasion.

These functions take place to allow loved ones and sympathizers to express their condolences and sympathy to the family members present.

Visitations can take place at residences, funeral homes, or in common meeting areas where photos and other memorabilia can be displayed.


A viewing serves the same function as a visitation, except this event implies that the body will also be present on display.

Viewings, much like visitations, give attendees the opportunity to express their sympathy to the family, but also offer their last goodbyes to the departed.

Memorial Service

The memorial service is one of the most common types of funeral services.

The defining characteristic of a memorial service is that it takes place after the deceased has been laid to rest. But if the body was cremated it is not uncommon for the urn to be present.

This is often a more intimate service for family and close friends where the memory of the deceased is central to the service.

This service can occur well after the death of the individual as well, because there is no set time frame during which the service must take place.

Celebration of Life

This is a type of funeral memorial service that has grown in popularity in recent years.

Celebrations of life can be formal or informal, religious or secular. They can be held immediately following death or even months after, and can take place as a standalone service or even after a more formal ceremony.

These celebrations offer family, friends, and loved ones the opportunity to come together and share happy memories and stories about the departed’s life.

The celebration of life ceremony can even be held at restaurants, bars, or other entertainment venues, as it is inherently a happy occasion in honor of the deceased.

Green Funerals

A green funeral is not a specific type of funeral memorial service, but it has become a popular burial option for those looking to have end-of-life services that are environmentally friendly.

They can incorporate any of the other funeral services, with minor modifications to secure the least impact on the planet.

Choose the right funeral and memorial service for your loved ones

The most important thing to remember is that these funeral memorial services are intended to celebrate and honor the life of your loved one.

As long as the service reflects the life of the deceased and allows family and friends to show their respects and say their goodbyes, whatever service you choose is bound to be the right choice for everyone.

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