The difference between a memorial and a funeral

There is often confusion on difference between a memorial and a funeral, one is a service with the purpose of honouring the life of a deceased person with their body present, whereas a memorial service is an event that takes place when a body is not present. We’re sharing in more detail the differences and what you can expect in the differing services held when a loved one passes away.

What is a memorial service?

Although memorial services are very similar to funerals, they are usually the go to service organised when a body is not available to be present. These kinds of services usually take place when the body has already been buried or cremated therefore, the service doesn’t have to  align with the time restrictions that are in place when a body still needs to be laid to rest, this particular type of service offers extra flexibility and more time when needed to plan a service. Memorial services also don’t need to take place in any particular location, giving mourners the freedom to select any location they desire, which could be somewhere sentimental to the loved one who has passed away or simply a more convenient location like a park, or local community centre.

Different types of commemoration events

There are several different types of commemoration events that families and friends hold when somebody passes away and these can depend on religion or simply a desired change from the status quo.

Celebration of life

This celebration can be held at any time, and usually takes place to mark a milestone so a year without a loved one or a birthday, giving family and friends the opportunity to come together in any setting to celebrate the life of the person who passed away.


Also known as a burial or graveside service, this is a small service held wherever your loved one is being finally laid to rest after a funeral, and allows family and friends of the deceased to say their final goodbyes or make last sentiments in speeches beside the grave. Often people add items of sentiment to the grave on top of the coffin or throwing in a handful of dirt, which is a tradition for many.


A wake is a very common service that usually follows a funeral or memorial service, that allows people to come together to share their grief and spend time with people who knew and loved the person that has passed away. Often it is an opportunity for everyone who attended the funeral to sit down with food and drink with their family and friends to reflect on the funeral and share memories of the deceased.