Funerals vs. Celebrations of Life
What is the difference between a funeral and a celebration-of-life? They have a lot in common, but they diverge from each other in some important ways. It’s certainly true that both are ceremonies where people gather to remember a loved one. However, funerals are based on long tradition, while celebrations-of-life are a relatively recent development that derives from changes in societal values. Each ceremony is intended to achieve three goals:
Enable the deceased’s family, as well as the larger community, to publicly acknowledge the death of the individual in question.
Provide support to the family and the community by bringing together a number of sympathetic friends, neighbors, and associates.
Publicly recognize that the deceased has moved to a new social status in the community.
The two types of ceremonies achieve these goals in significantly different ways. Let’s begin our exploration of these differences by taking a look at the traditional funeral.
The funeral is made up of three distinct phases: visitation, funeral service, and committal service performed at graveside.
The Visitation: This occurs before the actual funeral, frequently on the night prior but sometimes on the day of the funeral. The visitation (also called the viewing) gives the community the chance to support the family in their time of need and pay due respects to the deceased. Usually, participants are allowed to view the open casket containing the body of the deceased.
The Funeral Service: Generally held in a church or funeral home, the funeral service is led by a pastor, funeral director, or another officiant of one kind or another. This person leads the assemblage through a standard funeral order of service that includes the singing of hymns, invocations, recitals from the Bible, readings from Scripture, and prayers.
The Committal Service: After a slow automobile procession from the site where the funeral was held, the committal service occurs at the cemetery. The casket is lowered into the ground and the final prayers are recited.
While funeral plans tend to follow an orderly, pre-defined program, the celebration-of-life is primarily concerned with telling the life story of the deceased. Celebrations-of-life provide an opportunity for friends and associates of the decreased to celebrate the unique life and times of the deceased. This type of event is comparable to a memorial service, whose program is essentially a hybrid of a celebration-of-life and a standard funeral.
When you organize a celebration-of-life, you have more room for creativity than you have with a traditional funeral. Since celebrations-of-life are generally held after the deceased’s physical remains have been buried or cremated, you have more time to plan out the event and make it a truly special occasion.
We Can Help You Decide
With our years of experience in organizing memorial services, we can advise you on the best way to honor your loved one, whether it’s a traditional funeral or a celebration-of-life. When you need a funeral home staffed by caring professionals, please contact us at 713.682.3663. The staff at Woodlawn Funeral Home & Cemetery is here for you