Making the Decision Between Having a Funeral, Graveside Service, or Memorial Service

There are three types of ceremonies for remembering someone who has died: 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 funeral services, see our article Funerals.

Basic features of a graveside service

  • Usually held within a few days of the death
  • Held at a gravesite, mausoleum crypt, or columbarium niche
  • 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 graveside services, see our article Graveside Services.

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 memorial services, see our article Memorial Services.

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 about events you can have before and after the service, see our article Events Surrounding a Funeral.