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What's the Difference Between a Funeral Service and a Memorial Service?

  • December 14, 2019

Funeral homes provide different services depending on the needs and preferences of the decedent’s family.  While many people use the phrases "funeral service" and "memorial service" interchangeably, they are actually different services.

A “funeral service” is any official ceremony that takes place in the presence of a casketed body.  In other words, the body (inside a casket) is present during the ceremony.  The casket lid may be open or closed.

A “memorial service”, on the other hand, is any official ceremony that takes place without the casketed body being present.  For example, the ceremony might take place with just an urn containing cremated remains (i.e. “ashes”) serving as the focal point of the ceremony.  Alternatively, the focal point could be just a picture of the deceased displayed on an easel.

Funeral Costs: How Much Does an Average Funeral Cost?

Many times you'll hear people say that the average funeral costs around $6,000.  However, that estimate is based on a price survey taken several years ago.  Funeral prices, like everything else, have increased with inflation.

Today, the average North American traditional funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000.  This price range includes the services at the funeral home, burial in a cemetery, and the installation of a headstone.  While cremation is gaining in popularity, the traditional funeral is still the most popular manner for disposing of the deceased.

How To Write a Eulogy

Eulogy is pronounced like this:  /Yule-ah-gee/

A eulogy is simply a speech about a loved one who has died.

This speech is usually given during a memorial or funeral ceremony.  While it is often given by a close friend or relative of the deceased, it can also be given by a religious leader.

Don’t stress out over giving a eulogy.

Think of it as a simple conversation with the family and friends about the life of the person who has died.  Remember, the funeral or memorial ceremony is usually only attended by people that somehow mattered to the deceased.  They are eager to hear about the deceased and will appreciate anything you say.

Almost EVERYONE is afraid of speaking in public

The “audience” is NOT expecting you to give a flawless speech.  If fact, if you “mess up” a little (or a lot), the audience tends to rally around you even more.  They really do!

There is no “right way” to compose a eulogy.

Since most people have no idea what a eulogy is supposed to sound like, you can pretty much create it any way you want.  Here are some things you may want to talk about:

    • a brief “life history” of the person who has died
    • important achievements and events in the deceased’s life
    • details about family, friends, work, and hobbies
    • favorite memories of the deceased

Most eulogies last between 5 and 15 minutes but there are no hard and fast rules here.  You can also deliver “vignette” eulogies.  This is where several different people take turns speaking about the deceased.  For example, each of the children of a deceased parent could give a small speech about their favorite respective memory with the deceased.

Breaking a single eulogy into separate vignettes gives others a chance to participate in the services and takes the pressure off of just one speaker.  Even if each person speaks for just a little while, it will seem like a longer, more robust speech because it takes time for each person to walk up to the podium and then return to their seat.