Every dash is a story.

Your loved one had a remarkable life. Tell their story, and we'll publish it online for free.

Get started for free
November 20, 2019 Beyond The Dash

Is a Funeral Held for a Person Who Was Cremated?

Or should we say 'memorial' instead?

Is a Funeral Held for a Person Who Was Cremated?
There's a slight distinction between 'funeral' and a 'memorial'. (Getty Images)

The word 'funeral' is often used colloquially to refer to any ceremony held in honor of a deceased person. But is this term technically correct when the deceased was cremated?


Final disposition


Cremation is the most popular method of final disposition for remains today. A recent study showed that more than half of Southerners prefer to be cremated when they pass away. It wasn't always that way. Traditional burial has strong roots in several major religions, including Catholicism, Judaism and Islam which generally forbid cremation. 


Despite the rising popularity of cremation, many people still aren't sure if a funeral is to be held, or if the memorial service accompanying a cremation can be called a funeral. 


Though many people use the word funeral to a gathering of mourners, funeral and memorial refer to distinct service types in the funeral industry:


Funeral


Service held to memorialize a deceased person, with their body present.


Memorial


Service held to memorialize a deceased person, with their body not present. Even when cremated remains are present, funeral directors still consider this service a memorial. 


Celebration of life


Memorial that focuses on the good times in the deceased person's life, and often involves joyful music. The body may or may not be present, including in the form of cremated remains. 


Today, a funeral is what the deceased survivors make of it. 


Some would call a cremated person's funeral a memorial instead, drawing a clear distinction between the kinds of events held in honor of one who has passed. Others would call the gathering a funeral if the cremated remains are present at the event. Many would agree that the choice of words here hardly matters for the family who is newly bereaved.


In some communities with religious or traditional values, there may be a stronger distinction drawn between these terms. A funeral director can guide the family through the process of purchasing the type of funeral that aligns best with their individual needs, but after that, it's their decision how to refer to the memorial event, if they choose to host one, 


What's most important is to note the family's preference and use this name for the funeral when referring to the event — whether it be funeral, memorial, celebration of life, or something more unusual


Create an Obituary

Your loved one had a remarkable life. Tell their story, and we’ll publish it online for free.

After creating an online memorial, you can also publish in print in any of over 6,000 newspapers across North America.

Get started for free
Discover our blog
View more