Traditional Funeral Services vs Celebrations of Life: What’s the Difference?

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Are you in the midst of planning a service for your loved one and feeling overwhelmed with all the options? Funeral services are not just limited to traditional burials, cremations or memorials. Nowadays, there’s also something called “celebration of life” that many families have adopted as an opportunity to honour their departed relatives. But what is the difference between a traditional funeral and this type of celebration? 

In this blog post, we explore both options – providing their key features and benefits so you can make a more informed decision about how best to honour your loved one. Read on to learn more!

Traditional Funeral Services

Traditional funeral services are formal and typically follow a set structure. They often include religious or spiritual elements, such as prayers or hymns, and are held in a place of worship or a funeral home. They usually involve a casket present during the service and may be closed or open for viewing.

Celebrations of Life

Celebrations of life are more relaxed and personalised. They are often held in a location that reflects the deceased’s personality or interests, such as a park, beach, or garden. They may include a eulogy, music, and photos; attendees may be encouraged to share memories or stories. Celebrations of life often have a more positive tone and are intended to celebrate the deceased’s life rather than mourn their passing.

What are the Differences?

Dress Code

Traditionally, attendees at a funeral service would wear black or dark clothing as a sign of mourning. However, dress codes for celebrations of life are usually more relaxed and may be specified by the family or not at all. Guests may be encouraged to wear bright colours or dresses to reflect the deceased’s personality.

Funeral Flowers

Funeral flowers are a common tradition in traditional funeral services. They are usually sent to the funeral home or place of worship and displayed around the casket. In celebrations of life, flowers may still be present. Still, they are often incorporated more creatively, such as using them to create a memorial or placing them in a significant location for the deceased.

Food and Drink

In traditional funeral services, it is not customary to have food or drink as part of the service. However, in celebrations of life, it is common to have a reception or gathering where guests can share food, drinks, and memories of the deceased.

Religious and Cultural Traditions

Traditional funeral services may incorporate specific religious or cultural traditions, such as a mass or a reading from a holy book. Celebrations of life may also incorporate elements from the deceased’s religion or culture, but they are often more flexible and open to personalisation.

Funeral Directors and Celebrants

Traditional funeral services are usually led by a funeral director or a religious leader, such as a priest or minister. Celebrations of life may be led by a professional celebrant or a family member or friend comfortable speaking in front of a group.

Bottom Line

Traditional funeral services and celebrations of life serve to honour and respect the deceased’s life, but they differ in structure, tone, and style. Traditional funeral services are more formal and follow a set structure, while celebrations of life are more personalised and encourage attendees to share memories and stories. 

Ultimately, the choice between a traditional funeral service and a celebration of life comes down to personal preference and the wishes of the deceased and their family.

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