How does a Celebration of Life Differ from a Funeral?

By: Brian K. Daly
Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Although funerals and celebrations of life are very different in their course of actions, they both serve the same purpose. It is the decision of the deceased, whether they had pre-planned or left direction, or the decision of the family after a loved one dies. They are both intended to provide a social support to the bereaved, acknowledge the death of a loved one, provide a time to say a last goodbye, and pay respect to the deceased.  

When you are deciding which ceremony is a better fit to have for your loved one, or for yourself if you are pre-planning, consider the differences they have and which one sits best with you. Here are a few ways in which the two ceremonies differ to grasp a better understanding. 


Celebration of Life 

Gather – This is a time for the family and the friends of the deceased come together to celebrate the deceased and the life they lived. Everyone comes together and spends time to commemorate the person they lost and love.  

Share – Collectively sharing stories and the best memories they have of the deceased, to laugh and to enjoy the person they were. This is a way for family and friends to reminisce and to keep their loved one alive through memory and love. In some cases, a short video clip is played with favourite pictures and videos. 

Memorialize – Activities and games are played and participated in by the friends and family of the deceased. Perhaps there was a game that the deceased loved to play, or was very good at that everyone joins in to remember the good times.  

Release – To end the celebration of life there is typically a release activity that is done. A couple of examples that have been used in the past are to say a few words to your loved one and release a balloon into the sky, and another is to have everyone put a message into a bottle and release it at sea.  


Celebrations of life do not have a set time line for when it should take place. It can be done directly after the death, a few days, months or even a year.  



Visitation – Visitations are held immediately before the funeral to pay respects to the deceased and act as a way of acknowledgment of the death to the friends and family. If a viewing is being done for the deceased, it would also take place before the funeral.  

Service – The funeral service is typically done at a church, being led by the church occupant. During the service, songs will be sung, readings will take place, prayers, and the eulogy will take place. 

Burial – At the gravesite, the church occupant will say a prayer and say the final bible passages, ending with the casket being lowered into the ground.  


Funerals and celebrations of life are both ways in which we all come together to remember our loved one who has passed. If you have any other questions or would like to speak to our professionals here at, Ocean County Cremation Service, you can contact us here.  

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