A funeral service is a ceremony with the body present in a casket. This type of ceremony almost always takes place in a church or funeral home, and it is usually followed by a brief ceremony at the cemetery. About two-thirds of the families we serve have a funeral ceremony.
A funeral ceremony allows for viewing of the deceased by those who attend the service. Having the casket present helps people focus on the purpose of their gathering. Also, funeral services can be very ceremonial for those who appreciate formality. Some families feel that they need to be comforted by a funeral message before bringing their loved one to the cemetery.
A memorial service is a ceremony without the casketed body present. This usually takes place in a church or funeral home, but could be held just about anywhere. It is often preceded by a brief ceremony at the cemetery. About one-third of the families we serve have a memorial ceremony. Often the family will meet at the funeral home for some devotions and a final viewing, then we'll process to the cemetery for a committal, and then we'll continue to their church for the memorial service.
A memorial ceremony may help people concentrate on the religious aspects of the service. Some families feel the graveside service is the most difficult part of the ceremonies, so they prefer to do that first. Also, if there is a reception following the service, there is no delay. This is especially helpful if the cemetery and church are some distance apart.
Occasionally, we will serve a family that wants only a graveside ceremony at the cemetery.
Although a visitation may not be considered a formal ceremony, it is an important part of the overall ceremonies that take place. In fact, more people will often attend the visitation rather than the service. Visitations are usually held at more convenient times and do not require a long time commitment by those who come. Also, there may be more opportunity for actually expressing your sympathy at a visitation