What is a memorial service?

There is often confusion on difference between a memorial service and a funeral service, one is a service with the purpose of honouring a life with their loved one present, whereas a memorial service is an event that takes place when a loved one is not present.

Today we are sharing in more detail the differences and what you can expect in the differing services held when a loved one passes away.

What is a memorial service?

Although memorial services are very similar to funerals, they are usually the go to service organised when the body of your loved one is not able to be present. These kinds of services usually take place when your loved one has already been buried or cremated therefore, the service doesn’t have to align with the time restrictions that are in place when a loved one still needs to be laid to rest, this particular type of service offers extra flexibility and more time when needed to plan a service.

Memorial services also don’t need to take place in any particular location, giving the families of the loved ones the freedom to select any location they desire, which could be somewhere sentimental to the loved one who has passed away or simply a more convenient location like a park, or local community centre.

There are several different types of commemoration events that families and friends hold when somebody passes away, a few of these are outlined below.

Celebration of life

This celebration can be held at any time, and usually takes place to mark a milestone so a year without a loved one or a birthday, giving family and friends the opportunity to come together in any setting to celebrate the life of their loved one.


Also known as a burial or graveside service, this is a small service held wherever your loved one is being finally laid to rest after a funeral, and allows family and friends to say their final goodbyes or make last sentiments in speeches beside the grave. Often people add items of sentiment to the grave on top of the coffin or throwing in a handful of dirt, which is a tradition for many.


A wake is a very common service that usually follows a funeral or memorial service, that allows people to come together to share their grief and spend time with people who knew and loved the person that has passed away. It is often an opportunity for everyone who attended the funeral to sit down with food and drink with their family and friends to reflect on the funeral and share memories of their loved ones.