Difference Between Memorial and Funeral

When a person dies their departure affects their family and friends deeply. They arrange different ceremonies to honor the dead and to cherish their memories. Different types of ceremonies are observed in different parts of the world to honor the dead. People from different cultures have their kind of ceremonies and events.

Memorial vs Funeral

The main difference between memorial and funeral is that funeral is observed during the cremation or burial process but the memorial ceremony is held after some days of the funeral. During the funeral, the body of the dead is kept in the casket. Friends and Relatives visit to pay their final homage to the dead person.

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A memorial ceremony is usually held after a few days of the funeral. It is observed to cherish the memory of the dead. It is not formal, during the memorial ceremony friends and family members reflect on the memories they had with the dead person. In some cultures, an urn with the dead person’s ashes is kept in the memorial ceremony.

The funeral is the event occurring right after a person dies. The body of the dead is cremated based upon their cultural and religious views. The embalmed body is placed in a coffin and kept for people to say their last goodbye. The funeral is formal and people dress in black in some countries.

Comparison Table Between Memorial and Funeral

Parameters of Comparison Memorial Funeral
Time heldIt is held before the burial process Held after a few weeks or months of the funeral
Purpose To pay respect to the dead oneTo cherish the memories of the dead
Events Prayers are said and burial is done. People also bring flowers to the funeralEulogies delivered, the speech was given, memories shared and prayers said
Location At the home or church In a favorite place of the dead
Post eventsA funeral reception is heldA memorial reception including the people who took part in the memorial service is held

What is a Memorial?

A memorial service is a ceremony held to reflect on the memories of the dead. It takes place after the body of the dead is cremated or buried. Memorial service usually takes place after one week to one year from death. Memorial ceremonies are held at the dead one’s home or in any other location with personal significance.

Since it is a ceremony to look back at the pleasant memories of the dead the location may be their favorite park, beach, restaurant, church, etc. Religious traditions may or may not be held. It completely depends on the family’s choice. Memorial ceremonies which include a religious mass are held at the place of worship. The religious leaders conduct a memorial service in this case.

People come to a memorial ceremony to take part in the events occurring to ease the pain of the loved ones of the dead. It has no formal structure and based on the preferences of the people organizing it some events are held. People coming to the memorial deliver a speech about the memories they share with the dead, sing the dead ones favorite songs, play musical instruments, or say a prayer.

A reception is held after the memorial service. The venue is usually decorated with the dead one’s favorite flowers, their favorite music is played in some cases. Some people also have a Tea Party post memorial ceremony.

What is a Funeral?

The funeral ceremony is held to honor the dead. People of different cultures follow different types of funerals. Burial or cremation is also done during the funeral ceremony. It is formal and religious. It is commonly led by a religious head. Prayers are said for peace. Everyone comes together to pay respect to the dead. The body of the dead is cleaned and placed in a coffin. Prayers are said to give the soul a peaceful journey.

In some cultures, drinking and telling stories about the dead is also common. People dress formally and bring flowers to a funeral. Roses are the most common flowers brought to a funeral. Lilies, Chrysanthemums, Orchids, Carnations, and Gladioli are also used. Flowers are taken single, in the form of bouquets or Wreaths.

The body of the dead is cremated or buried right after the funeral. During the funeral religious scriptures are read and prayers are said by religious people. People visit to show their sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of the dead.

After the funeral, a funeral party is held. This is the time for the family and friends of the dead one to come together in their honor. Food is served and it doesn’t have the formal aspects of the funeral. This reception is called a repast.

Main Differences Between Memorial and Funeral

  1. Funeral service is held before the burial or cremation process but, the memorial is held weeks or months after the funeral
  2. The dead body is placed in a casket and kept for the loved ones to pay homage during the funeral whereas, the dead body is not present during the memorial
  3. The funeral is a formal service usually held by the religious leader but, a memorial doesn’t have any formal code and is held in a simple way
  4. The funeral is the time to pay respects to the dead while, the memorial is the time to re-live the memories of them
  5. Prayers are said during the funeral but, during a memorial service Eulogy, speech and memories are shared


Funeral and Memorial are both different and has different purposes. One is held to pay homage to the dead and to send off them in a peaceful journey while the other is a time for the loved ones of the dead to cherish and share the memories of the dead they hold dear. Though both are different they are observed to show support and love to the family and friends who lost a loved one.

Sending flowers, condolences cards and letters are also common in some cultures. When the dead one is cremated their ashes are placed during the memorial service. Both the services include a reception at the end in which food is served to everyone who attends the service.


  1. http://opus.uleth.ca/handle/10133/66
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2753/AAE1061-1959450104
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