Difference Between Memorial and Funeral

Key Difference – Memorial vs Funeral

Death of someone who is known to us is a saddening event. In every religion of the world, there is a system of paying honors to the deceased by performing last rites and observing a ceremony that is called funeral where the dead body or the corpse is finally disposed off. There is also a ceremony called memorial that is held in some cases when a person has died. Despite the fact that both events are held in honor of the deceased, there are some differences that will be talked about in this article.

What is a Memorial?

Memorial is a service that is held in honor of the deceased and takes place much later after the burial. It is normally held weeks or days after the burial. The most important thing to remember is that the body or the corpse of the deceased is not present during a memorial. There may be the ashes of the deceased contained inside an urn that becomes the focus during a memorial service. In most cases, a picture of the deceased is kept at the centre during memorials and people stand up and praise the deceased in their own ways.

Difference Between Memorial and Funeral

What is a Funeral?

Death of a human being, especially a loved one necessitates observance of many rituals and rites, among which the most important is the funeral service. We receive calls to attend the funeral service when someone in our family or in the friend circle dies. This is a service where the dead body of the deceased is disposed of according to the rituals and traditions of his religion. Among Christians, the dead remains or the corpse is laid down to rest in a coffin and buried in a grave. A funeral is the opportunity for all the friends and relatives of the deceased to pay their last respects to the departed soul.

When someone in our family dies, we have to make arrangements to dispose his dead remains. This is the hardest part of death as we are still grieving and have not overcome the loss of invaluable life. The thing to remember with a funeral service is that the dead body or the corpse is present in such a service and the burial takes place after observing the rituals and traditions. Such a service is mostly held at a funeral home and is followed by the burial at the cemetery.

Memorial vs Funeral


What is the difference between Memorial and Funeral?

Definitions of Memorial and Funeral:

Funeral: A funeral is an event where the dead body of the deceased is present, and friends and family gather to pay their last respects to the dead body after which the body is buried or cremated in the cemetery.

Memorial: A memorial service is an event which takes place after disposing of the dead body of the deceased, and the corpse is not present during the ceremony.

Characteristics of Memorial and Funeral:


Memorial: Memorial service can be organized days or even weeks after the death of a person.

Funeral: Funeral takes place within a day or two of the death.


Memorial: Memorial services are simpler and inexpensive.

Funeral: Funerals are more expensive and elaborate.


Memorial: If a dead body is not there, it is a memorial service.

Funeral: If the dead body is present, it is a funeral service.


Image Courtesy:

1. Neil Armstrong public memorial service (201209130012HQ) By NASA/Bill Ingalls (NASA Flickr account) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Space Shuttle Columbia funeral -g By Shane T. McCoy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons