Differences Between a Memorial and Celebration of Life

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For eons, we’ve found unique ways to celebrate the lives of our deceased loved ones and say goodbye in meaningful ways. From funerals to memorial services and celebrations of life, the need for ceremonial grief is omnipresent. As the years go on, how we say goodbye continues to evolve and diversify.

Nowadays, there are myriad ways for those grieving to find comfort and closure. The memorial and celebration of life are two such ceremonies. But what’s the difference between them, and which is most fitting for your lost loved one? Those are excellent questions that we intend to answer in this brief guide.

Memorial Service Customs

Before we delve into the differences between a memorial and a celebration of life, we must understand each. Memorial services are ceremonies that typically take place after a funeral has already occurred. These ceremonies are for mourning.

But they also allow the grieving to participate in remembrance and celebrate the life of their dearly departed. Memorial services often have religious undertones and include the use of memorial items such as personalized funeral gifts and other memorial products.

Memorial services might also have special readings, music, guest registries, and even a display showcasing the most important things to the deceased. These ceremonies tend to have a more formal atmosphere, but not quite as formal as funerals.

Celebration of Life Customs

On the other hand, celebrations of life can be formal, informal, or everything in between. Like memorial services, these ceremonies happen sometime after a funeral. But there isn’t a set structure for what’s supposed to occur at a celebration of life.

Instead, how you celebrate the life of a lost loved one is solely up to the person planning the event. If you want to include religious readings, formal dress codes, and personalized memorial gifts, that’s your prerogative. But you can also choose to do something entirely different.

For instance, if your dearly departed wasn’t very religious but enjoyed walks on the beach, you could plan a picnic on their most beloved shore. Use that time to enjoy the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks and share stories or silly anecdotes about them. There’s a lot more creative wiggle room with a celebration of life.

Which Is Best for Your Loved One?

Of course, this discussion on the differences between a memorial and celebration of life wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t touch on which of these ceremonies might be best for your loved one. Quite frankly, both services are beautiful ways to honor and commemorate the memory of your dearly departed.

But when it comes down to it, you should choose the service most fitting to the person your loved one was in life. If the deceased would’ve appreciated a traditional memorial service with scripture readings and hymns, then consider doing that.

If they would’ve appreciated something a little less formal, a celebration of life might be the right choice. In any case, the most important thing is that you have the opportunity to celebrate and honor your loved one in a meaningful and cathartic way.

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