How Does a Celebration of Life Differ from a Funeral?

By: John W. Moles
Monday, May 30, 2016

For many people, the passing of a loved one is marked in just one way; a funeral service. But in recent years, there have been additions of alternatives to the traditional funeral that have helped people to better accept and memorialize those that made a difference in their lives. One of these newer forms of memorializing is called a “celebration of life.” But what is it? Is it any different than funeral?

The Traditional Funeral

The funeral itself has been with humanity for as long as civilization itself. Some archaeological evidence suggests that humans undertook some kind of funeral ritual as far back as 50,000 years ago. The specifics of funeral details have changed over the centuries according to technology and culture. Cremation, for example, is much more widespread in western cultures than it was 100 years ago. Environmental concerns have now also made concepts such as “green burials” a more popular alternative in recent years.

The basic funeral concept, however, remains the same. A funeral is a way for the bereaved to give a last farewell to a loved one, usually in the form of a ceremony at which a body is present and committed to a final state. In America, this usually means either a burial of the body, or a cremation where the ashes are then kept in an urn permanently, or scattered in some location meaningful to the deceased or bereaved. Funerals, in other words, are ways to mark the actual death and commitment of a body.

The Celebration of Life

As the name implies, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a somber event. A celebration of life is a way to for people to commemorate and enjoy all that was good about the life of the deceased. In most cases, a celebration of life will occur without the body present. And while a funeral will usually take place within a small timeframe after someone has passed on, a celebration of life can occur weeks, months or even years after a body has been buried or cremated.

The celebration of life is also far less structured and formal. Funeral services will usually occur in a religious building or funeral home. A celebration of life can occur anywhere, in a home, a favorite vacation spot, or a destination the deceased wanted to visit. It doesn’t have to include a formal eulogy, and there’s no requirement for people to dress in black.

The Choice Is Yours

Some people choose to hold a funeral and then conduct their own celebration of life at a later date. Others try to combine the two, especially if there’s a preference for a less traditional, conventional funeral. However, it’s important to keep in mind for insurance payment purposes that the less traditional nature of a celebration of life may exclude it from coverage by some insurance companies. Compared to the more well-established costs of a traditional funeral, a celebration of life has many extra cost factors.

Ultimately, the choice is up to you or the wishes specifically laid out in advanced by the one that has passed on. If you live in Bellingham, WA, and want to get some professional, experienced advice on funerals and celebrations of life, contact us at Moles Farewell Tributes and let us see how we can help you today.

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