Funeral or Celebration of Life: What’s Right for Your Loved One?

By: VGFS
Friday, May 20, 2022

There are many ways to honor a loved one’s passing.

From traditional funerals to festive celebrations of life, there is a service that allows you to pay tribute to the departed in just the right way. But what is the right choice for you and your family? Each type of farewell offers unique benefits.

To help you understand the differences between these services, we have created the following guide so you can make the most informed decision for your needs.

A different approach with the same underlying goal

Funerals and celebrations of life have much in common but they differ in their execution. Funerals are rooted in tradition while life celebrations reflect recent changes in social values. But ultimately, both ceremonies honor the life and memory of the departed. In addition, they both serve to support the bereaved and aid in the healing process.

Funeral basics

In the U.S., the most common funerary ceremony is the traditional funeral. It is usually held at a place of worship, funeral home, or some other meaningful location. Traditional funerals range from deeply religious to secular and often fall somewhere in between. They can be simple or elaborate affairs but the tone is always reverent. Traditional funerals generally include some or all of the following elements:

  • The visitation, or wake, gives guests the opportunity to pay their respects to the deceased and spend time with the family. The body is typically displayed in a casket (which may be open or closed. Visitation usually takes place the day of or the day before the funeral ceremony. 
  • The funeral service, or ceremony, is at the heart of a traditional funeral. Attendees gather to listen to readings from religious or literary works, give eulogies about the departed, and often participate in prayer.
  • There may be a committal service, during which the body is buried. A small number of guests, often just family members, attend the graveside burial. 
  • The reception is the last step of the traditional funeral. Following the committal ceremony, guests are often invited to a family member’s residence, to a special location at the funeral home, or to a restaurant to reminisce and share a meal. 

About celebrations of life

These services are usually casual and loosely structured. The general atmosphere is relaxed and even festive, with guests attending to rejoice in a life well-lived. A celebration of life may or may not include elements from a traditional funeral service, such as a viewing of the body or visitation, although the choice is entirely up to you. Here are some primary things to note:

  • These ceremonies are often personalized to reflect the preferences of the departed. They may include lively music, activities, favorite delicacies, special attire, and more.
  • Celebrations of life can take place at any time, providing more time for planning and more flexibility for guests.
  • The body of the deceased is typically not present. If they were cremated, however, an urn containing their ashes may be present.
  • These ceremonies are typically not held at a funeral home. Instead, the setting is often at a location that was meaningful to the departed, such as a house of worship, family home, park, beach, or restaurant.
  • Even though celebration of life ceremonies are more relaxed, the etiquette rules for funerals still apply. Lateness, disrespectful remarks, and boisterous behavior are not appropriate.

What’s right for your loved one?

If you had discussions with the departed about their memorial preferences, you may already know what kind of service to arrange. Or perhaps they said something along the lines of, “I want people to have a party when I’m gone.” In this case, a celebration of life would be appropriate. You could feature your loved one’s favorite foods, music, and activities. On the other hand, if your loved one tends to be traditional and religion was important to them, perhaps a funeral would be a better choice. If important to note that both celebrations of life ceremonies and funerals can be held successfully even if you are on a tight budget. Your funeral director will help you craft the perfect tribute to your departed loved one.

When choosing between a celebration of life ceremony and a funeral, it’s important to remember that neither choice is wrong. Honoring the departed and bringing your family and friends together is an act of love that will be crucial for your healing process.

Funerals and celebrations of life offer comfort and help the bereaved process their grief.  If you have questions or need to make end-of-life arrangements, the compassionate professionals at Vaughn Greene Funeral Services are here to assist you. Please contact us anytime. 

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, and repast services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

It’s Women’s Health Awareness Month: Seven Strategies to Help You Take Charge of Your Health

Celebrate Women's Health Awareness Month with a renewed commitment to fortifying your wellness and resilience. It's Women’s Health Awareness Month, which highlights the importance of women’s healt...

This month we celebrate Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

The purpose is to raise awareness about the mental health and well-being of parents before, during, and after pregnancy.  Maternal mental health not only impacts parents but the child, as wel...

The Healing Power of Spring: Five Ways Nature Can Ease the Grieving Process

Nature's serene beauty offers a sanctuary for the grieving process to unfold. Amid the pain and sorrow of loss, finding solace becomes essential for healing. Nature can be a gentle yet powerful al...

Springtime Remembrance Events: Seven Heartwarming Ways to Remember A Loved One

Springtime remembrance events offer a time to gather, reflect, and honor cherished memories.           After the long chill of winter, spring ser...

These Seven Heart Health Threats Might Surprise You

The road to longevity is paved with choices that safeguard your heart health. The heart is not just a muscle; it’s the engine that keeps the body running. You may be surprised to learn that many f...

The Rules of Visitation Etiquette: Eight Tips for Being a Polite Funeral Guest

When attending a funeral or memorial service, it's crucial to understand the protocols, including proper visitation etiquette. Funeral visitations and wakes can be emotionally taxing, but they off...

National Craft Month: How Tapping Into Your Creative Side Helps Your Mental Health

March is National Craft Month and studies show a strong connection between our mental health and our creativity. The benefits of crafting range from decreased stress, improved brain productivity,...

A Practical Guide to Selecting Burial Clothes with Love and Reverence

Choosing burial clothes for a loved one can be a tender act of remembrance and profound significance. Navigating loss is a challenging experience on many levels. Despite the weight of grief, numer...

Ten Easy, Creative Ways to Add More Produce to Your Diet

Few things can enhance health and wellness like striving to add more produce to your diet. Bursting with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, produce is nature's gift to our bodi...

Your Guide to Understanding Cremation: Seven Fascinating Myths and the Truth Behind Them

Understanding cremation reveals countless misconceptions about the ancient practice. Cremation has been around for centuries but it remains surrounded by mystery. You might be surprised to know th...