Having a Celebration of Life vs Funeral


Funerals are said to be as old as the human race, stemming from an instinct to ceremoniously bury the dead with a ritual. Death ceremonies and rituals have evolved over time and have differed throughout various cultures and regions.  Presently, most associate the passing of a loved one with a traditional funeral service. However, we’re also seeing more and more people opt for a Celebration of Life ceremony instead. If you’re exploring alternatives to a traditional farewell, read on to learn the differences between a Celebration of Life vs funeral.

Celebration of Life vs Funeral

There are several differences between a Celebration of Life vs funeral.

Traditional funerals consist of:

  •  A viewing or visitation service (to view the casket or body).
  • The actual funeral service (speeches, prayers and/or hymns; led by an officiant).
  • The committal service (a slow procession to the burial site, where the casket is laid to rest below ground and final prayers and goodbyes are said).

Traditional funerals tend to be somber, conservative affairs.

Celebrations of Life, on the other hand, are just as they sound — celebrations. Celebrations of Life are uplifting, all-inclusive events that are personalized to a deceased loved one, intended to honor the individual.

The deceased body is not present. A Celebration of Life often consists of:

  • Personalization to the deceased in the form of venue, music, activities, food and décor.
  • “Letting go” activities indented as therapeutic grief support.
  • Personalized keepsakes and mementos.

When having a Celebration of Life, you would still need to work with a funeral home for preparation/transportation of the body and to handle certain paperwork, including death certificates. Celebration of Life ceremonies can be done in conjunction with and after a traditional service. They can also be done before death (see: Living Memorials), as well immediately after death or even long after (on a death anniversary, for example).

Benefits of Having a Celebration of Life

The main difference between a Celebration of Life and a traditional funeral set-up are the numerous benefits that a Celebration of Life could offer.

Here a few:


Celebrations of Life offer an opportunity for positive healing. First off, there is just less stress involved for everyone. Although some may not know how to feel or what to expect, the feeling and mood of the day tends to focus on gratitude and love instead of sorrow. You’re focused on remembering the good, while surrounded by unique details and characteristics of your loved one. You feel close to them, and can better reach acceptance for your loss.

Grief Support

Celebrations of Life provide a venue for you to express or cope with your grief. Through activities, speeches, readings, stories, video montages and even the uplifting mood, everyone is better able to address their grief in their own way.

Unique Memories

Many friends and family members choose to have a Celebration of Life to showcase their loved one’s lifestyle and highlight their special impact. These events are one-of-a-kind and are able to touch everyone in a unique and beneficial way.


Celebrations of Life can be whatever you want. They can be traditional or outrageous. They can be small, intimate gatherings or huge extravaganzas. They can be spiritual, religious or neither. You can work with a large or small budget. You can pre-plan your own Celebration of Life to ensure all your wishes are met (see the many reasons why you should here). Whatever you want to do, you have the flexibility to make it happen.

If you’re interested in coordinating a Celebration of Life for yourself or a loved one, it’s highly recommended to get an event planner (see why). Eternally Loved is committed to making visions happen. We pledge to create a beautiful Celebration of Life to honor your amazing loved one while remaining sensitive and attentive to all your needs during your stressful time