How To Pre-Plan a Funeral Service, Graveside Service, or Memorial Service

There are three main types of ceremonies to consider when thinking about pre-planning your funeral arrangements: funerals, graveside services, and memorial services.

Basic features of a funeral

  • Usually held within a few days of the death
  • The body is usually present
  • Usually held in a funeral home, religious place of worship, or a chapel at the cemetery
  • May be held before a cremation or burial

To learn more about how to pre-plan your funeral service, see our article Pre-Planning a Funeral Service.

Basic features of a graveside service

  • Usually held within a few days of the death
  • Held at a gravesite, mausoleum space, crypt, or columbarium niche at a cemetery
  • May follow a traditional funeral, proceed a memorial service, or be a stand-alone event
  • May be held for either burial or interment of cremated remains

To learn more about how to pre-plan a graveside service, see our article Pre-Planning a Graveside Service.

Basic features of a memorial service

  • Usually held more than a few days after the death has occurred
  • The body is usually not present
  • Can be held anywhere of personal significance
  • May be held after a cremation or burial

To learn more about how to pre-plan a memorial service, see our article Pre-Planning a Memorial Service.

Home funeral and home burial

In addition, funerals may also be held at home. There is a growing movement in this country toward home funerals, sometimes called “home burial.” For many families, this is a more intimate, economical, environmentally friendly, and personal method of ceremony and burial. Home funerals usually include:

  • Preparing the body, including washing and clothing the body
  • Wrapping the body in a shroud or placing the body in a casket
  • Hosting the service at the home
  • Transporting the body to the burial site, including acquiring the necessary body transport permits
  • Preparing the burial site, including digging and perhaps lining the grave
  • Burying the body in the ground, including placing the body in the grave and filling the grave
  • Installing a headstone or grave marker, if desired

To learn more about how to plan a home funeral service, see our article Pre-Planning a Home Funeral Service.

Religious considerations

There are aspects of the ceremony that may be religiously prescribed, including events before or after the funeral, or features of the ceremony. If you will be following any religious traditions, many features of the service may already be established. To learn more about religious traditions, speak to your local clergy or read our articles on religious funeral traditions.

To learn more about different religions' funeral customs, see our article Religious Funeral Traditions.

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