Types of Funerals: A Clear Guide to the Different Options

Published November 20, 2020
Group of people sitting at funeral

Understanding the types of funerals you can choose from can help you make an informed decision when it comes to planning one. Whether you are pre-planning one for yourself or planning a funeral for a loved one, there are tons of options when it comes to types of funeral services that can fit both your needs, and your budget.

Types of Funerals

Different types of funeral rituals and ceremonies will set the tone for this event, so it's important to be mindful of what you want the vibe of the service to be like prior to planning it. Keep in mind that at a funeral, unlike at a memorial service, the body is present, so regardless of the type of funeral you select, you'll want to decide if you'd like an open or closed casket.

Religious Funeral Service

A religious funeral service may also be referred to as a traditional funeral service and usually takes place at a house of worship or funeral home. There may also be a viewing and/or visitation prior to the service. Depending on the religion practiced, different funeral rituals and traditions may take place. This can include:

  • What the wake looks like
  • Body preparation
  • Visitation customs
  • Funeral readings
  • What music is played or sung
  • What the burial entails
  • Dress code
religious funeral service

Non-Religious Funeral Service

At a non-religious funeral service, traditional funeral customs may take place without any religious readings, references, or music. Non-religious funeral services may take place in a variety of locations depending on the deceased individual's wishes, or the family's wishes. An officiant may or may not have a religious background, and most likely none of the readings, music, or speeches will incorporate anything religious.

Celebration of Life

A celebration of life is usually a more lighthearted service, compared to a traditional funeral service, that honors the life of the deceased individual in a more joyous and celebratory way. Music, speeches, and readings may be more upbeat and loved ones may view this as more of a party versus a traditional funeral service. While some individuals choose to have a celebration of life event well after their loved one has passed away, others opt to have a celebration of life funeral, where their loved one's body is present at the event.

Green Funeral

A green funeral can incorporate elements of a traditional, non-religious, and/or celebration of life service, with the only major difference being the actual burial practices. With a green burial, the body is placed in a coffin that is able to decompose. The deceased individual's clothing must also be biodegradable. Green funerals also tend to be a bit more affordable than traditional funerals.

Graveside Service

A graveside service is typically a smaller ceremony that takes place by the grave that the deceased individual will later be buried in. This type of service can be long or short, can be religious or non-religious, and may incorporate eulogy speeches given by loved ones. The only major difference with this type of service is its location. Graveside services can still incorporate traditional elements of funeral services, or can be completely unique depending on the family's wishes.

graveside funeral service

Burial at Sea

Under very specific circumstances, and after your application has been approved, a burial at sea of cremated or non-cremated remains is permitted. For a burial at sea, the funeral service may take place on land or on the boat before the burial.

Different Types of Funeral Rituals

Funeral rituals will vary depending on a family's customs, religion, and/or culture. Funeral rituals are an important aspect of funeral services as they both honor the deceased individual, and may assist the deceased individual's loved ones in processing their loss.

Funeral Checklist Forms and Guides

Planning a funeral can feel overwhelming. Be sure to reach out for support when needed and use a checklist and funeral planning template to help you stay organized during this process.

Types of Funeral Services

It may feel overwhelming to select a type of funeral, but keep in mind that there isn't a wrong choice to make. When it comes to selecting a funeral service, know that you can customize the service and ceremonies to fit your needs and your budget. Next, find out the average time between a death and a funeral and use that info as part of your planning.

Types of Funerals: A Clear Guide to the Different Options