Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. – Norman Cousins


Funerals and Memorials both serve the same purpose.  They are an important ritual of saying goodbye to our loved one.  They both can be as long or as short as you’d like and both focus on offering a tribute to and celebration of the life of the person who has died.  The only difference is that the body is not present in a memorial.  A funeral is most often conducted within a week of the death.

The Luxury Of Time

Recognizing someone’s passing is often an occasion when we have too little time and too much distress to plan a service that truly celebrates our loved one’s life.  Because a memorial service, or Celebration of Life, typically does not have the body present, you can take the time you need to plan music and prayers, to find the poems and scripture you want to use.  Instead of rushing through a conversation with your pastor or officiant while your mind is on all the other arrangements to make, you can gather your and others’ thoughts.


Family and friends also want to honor the deceased but may not agree on how it should be done. Grief and stress can make these very important decisions even more challenging.


A More Meaningful Location

One of my favorite memorial services was held deep in the woods of my grandfather’s estate in New York.  I only knew Grampy when he lived on his expanse of woods and brooks; the never-ending mucking hole, the rusting old row boat, the rows of meticulously chopped and stacked firewood, and the smell of cigars all bringing his spirit alive as they would every time I visited.

Saying goodbye to your loved one, perhaps with his or her ashes present, can be enriched when held at a place of importance for you or for them. Whether gathering at sea, on a favorite mountain top, or even in your own backyard, the options are so much more. It is probably the most personalized and least expensive manner in which you can pay tribute to your dearly departed.

Allow People To Come From A Distance

It used to be easy to jump on the next flight out whenever we needed to, or to arrange child or pet care while we’re gone.  Adding a few extra days or even a week could make it possible for someone whose travel arrangements will take some planning.


Lower Funeral Costs

We don’t like to think of cost being a factor in our decisions when someone we love dies.  But the reality is, funerals are expensive!  The costs to have the body embalmed, dressed, rested in a casket, as well as cemetery preparations are significant.  Keep in mind that the reason for funeral services is to grieve, and if a service with a body present will bring greater meaning, find other ways to lower costs.



Both Churches and Funeral Homes have some limitations.  They are generally restricted in the number of people they can hold, how long you can stay, and what types of activities you can include in your celebration.  Many faith traditions hold services only for members of their congregation, or their immediate families.  It’s becoming more common for people to be “un-churched” and therefore feel quite uncomfortable entering a formal church setting.  You may still include the traditional prayers and scriptures even if your service is somewhere else.

The officiant you choose to conduct your loved ones’ funeral or memorial service will play a large part in shaping the overall sentiment of the service. I will respectfully and compassionately honor your wishes and needs, and together we’ll create a fitting tribute to your loved one.  I welcome you to be in touch at or 508-308-7116.


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