Difference between a Celebration of Life and a Memorial Service

We know that it can be difficult to make arrangements for a commemoration after a funeral or cremation, but an extended service to process a loss of a loved one is necessary for healing.

Families often choose between a celebration of life or memorial service to share and take solace in the achievements and memories of the deceased.

And while they serve the same purpose—to remember and help a loved one pass from this life to the next—a celebration of life and a memorial service are not the same.

Today, we’ll discuss how a celebration of life and a memorial service are different from one another. This way, you can choose how best to commemorate your loved one in a way you deem appropriate.

What Is A Celebration Of Life

When we say a celebration of life, it implies family and loved ones gather in a happy atmosphere to uplift one another—a moment of respite from the sadness and deep sense of loss they’re all experiencing.

Often held after a funeral, a celebration of life has the lively atmosphere often found in family gatherings.

Positivity, joy, and smiles are the focus of a celebration of life. It has little to no structure and is best described as a remembrance of life in a way the bereaved family deems fit. Expect a formal, party-like atmosphere with music, dancing, singing, and storytelling among small groups.

In these celebrations, people share anecdotes. Often, the family distributes keepsakes to other close relatives. These keepsakes range from paperweights, necklaces, and jewelry that may have a photo of the deceased. Using the deceased's ashes for pendants for ashes or ashes jewelry is a more recent way for a family to always have a part of their loved one close to them.

What Is A Memorial Service

A memorial service is a gathering of friends and family of the deceased that also celebrates the life of a loved one. Often, a memorial service will have a structured program flow containing all religious rituals as per the family’s faith.

Beautiful in its own right, a solemn atmosphere filled with hymns and silent remembrance grace the venue. Serious reflection and acknowledgment of the loss during this time help the bereaved family and those closest to the deceased accept the reality of a loss.

How Is A Celebration Of Life Similar To A Memorial Service

A celebration of life is similar to a memorial service as both events are a tribute to the deceased's achievements, memories, and experiences. It’s a form of acceptance and a time to bid farewell, albeit in different forms, with one being lively and secular and the other being solemn and highly religious. Furthermore, the deceased's body is not displayed in either commemoration ritual.

Both activities are ways to acknowledge a loss with those closest to you so that the healing process is done in solidarity and comfort. Presently, many families are opting to do both a celebration of life and a memorial service as both methods can be great ways to honor their special departed loved ones.

How Is A Celebration Of Life Different From A Memorial Service

  • Structural and Tone Difference

A memorial service will have a structured program involving various religious rituals. These may range from reading a passage from the holy book they follow to giving eulogies. Talking is usually appropriate but kept to a minimum.

In contrast, a celebration of life will be more secular and lively. There is little structure to follow, and often, family and friends will gather to share stories and fun memories commemorating the departed. Expect a joyful atmosphere filled with laughter accompanied by drinks and food.

  • Faith-focused Vs. Positivity-focused

A celebration of life will have a positivity-focused atmosphere in accepting the death of a loved one. Emphasis on sharing grief and accepting the reality of a loss is done together in a safe atmosphere of light-hearted conversations. On the other hand, a memorial service is a religious affair that relies on customs and rituals to help the soul pass from one world to the next.

  • Venue: Religious Institutions Vs. Anywhere Under The Sun

End-of-life memorial services are typically held in a religious institution or place of worship as long as the body is no longer present at the venue. Memorial services usually happen after the funeral or a cremation, so it is possible that an urn may be displayed.

Celebrations of life are held almost anywhere the family prefers. These venues usually are places of significance for the deceased or the family itself. Common venues include parks, riversides, beaches, restaurants, and even bars. The family would have a photo or a creative memorial urn on display in commemorating the loss. These urns are often colorful, themed, and lively to match the deceased’s favorite colors and personality.

  • Attire

Dress codes are usually strict in most memorial services as they are religious, so it is best to ask the family what is appropriate.

In celebrations of life, the attire usually depends on the venue and can thus vary. It’s best to check the venue’s location and dress accordingly. It’s also a great idea to bring extra clothes if the venue is a beach, beachfront, or even a resort.

Which One Is For You

A memorial service and celebration of life are unique ways to celebrate a life well-lived. When choosing between the two, first consider what the deceased might have expressed in their will.

If your family is spiritual and religious, then a memorial service may be the best option for you. On the other hand, if a party-like atmosphere is the best coping mechanism for your family, then choose a celebration of life.

In most cases, families hold both a memorial service and a celebration of life if their financial capacity allows it. Doing both is a great way to honor and remember the life of a deceased loved one.

The Unique Beauty In Celebrations Of Life

In pursuing a celebration of life, one must be imaginative and creative. You may think about what the deceased would enjoy and honor them through participating in these activities at a celebration of life. These special occasions can be the catalyst for your continued healing.

Today, most people honor their departed loved ones by not just hosting a unique celebration of life but they invest in the urns as well. Colorful, handmade memorial products are readily available and extremely accessible. These beautiful urns make for a memorial art gallery within your home. If you don’t feel particularly comfortable with an urn on display, you can consider turning remains and aquamation ashes into memorable keepsake jewelry, ornaments, paperweights, votives, and even vases.

Healing Through Celebration Remembrance!

Celebrate the lives of your departed loved ones by commissioning an artwork that will always be near you. A gorgeous, ethereal piece of art that you can touch, even light a candle in.

Let your loved ones continue to be a guiding light in your life by consulting Celebration Ashes for customized, handmade pieces that can illuminate even the saddest of days.