What is the difference between a funeral and a burial?

Below are the key distinctions between a funeral and a burial.

A Funeral – is a ceremony celebration of an individual’s life. Therefore, every funeral is different, depending on how they want to be remembered. However, there are traditional elements of a funeral that take place.

Step by step guide of a traditional funeral:

  1. Funeral procession
  2. Funeral service
  3. Cremation or Burial
  4. Reception or wake

1. Funeral procession –A funeral procession usually takes place in a motor vehicle, on a horse and cart or by foot. However, the procession is unique to each individual and therefore can take place in any way you wish. Typically, a procession is from a funeral home or place of worship to a cemetery or crematorium.

2. Funeral ceremony – The funeral ceremony is often tailored to the deceased. It also depends on whether the deceased is buried or cremated. Religion can also be a factor here.

Here is an example of a typical humanist ceremony (someone who is not aligned to a specific religion). To begin, there may be introductory music, followed by words of welcome. Then a tribute consisting of an outline of the deceased’s life and personality. Next, there may be readings of poetry and prose. Often there is then time for reflection. At this point, everyone attending the ceremony will take a moment for private thought, which can be accompanied by music. After this, the curtains are closed, or coffin lowered. There will be a closing word, which would typically include thanks. Finally, closing music will be played.

3. Cremation or burial – Depending on what has been arranged prior to the funeral, the following options are available.

The cremation is a final disposition of the deceased, carried out through incineration. Mourners may arrive with the coffin already be placed on the catafalque. Alternatively, the coffin may be carried into the crematorium or church at the start by pallbearers, family or friends.

The Burial is a final disposition of the body in the ground. After the funeral procession, the coffin is be placed on planks above the grave. A few words are spoken over the resting place and the coffin is lowered into the grave by the pallbearer, family or friends. The grave is then filled with earth immediately after the mourners have left the graveside.

4. Reception or wake - This takes place after the funeral. Optionally, this can be catered. It allows the mourners to get together and look back on the deceased life and share fond memories.

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