When a loved one passes, many people believe that there is only one type of funeral service available. Typically, it is whatever service or practice is proscribed by their culture or religion. This may be the only type of service they have attended in the past.

In actuality, there are dozens of variations in the funeral process. Jewish families, for example, mourn for a week-long period following a loved one’s passing. This is known as “sitting shiva.” Hindu funerals include open caskets and offerings to ancestors.

While every funeral service is individual, there are five types of funeral services commonly held in America. Families of the deceased may choose to have one type of ceremony, or incorporate several of the following.

  1. Visitation or Viewing: Sometimes referred to as a wake, a visitation or viewing gives family and friends a chance to say goodbye to their loved one. It is an intimate, casual event without formal speakers or prayers. This service occurs after the body has been cleaned and prepared by the funeral home. While some people use the terms “visitation” and “viewing” interchangeably, the difference is in whether the casket is open or closed. As the name suggests, a viewing has an open-casket allowing mourners to see the deceased’s body.
  2. Funeral Service: Funeral services are typically held at a funeral home or church, and involve speakers, prayers and clergy (if desired by the family). The body is present, with the casket generally closed, and a memorial card or program is often provided. Clergy and/or family members offer prayers, readings or psalms. The funeral service gives friends and family the chance to speak about their loved one and share memories or experiences aloud with everyone present. Some aspects of this service may vary with religion and culture.
  3. Memorial Service: A memorial is similar to a funeral service where loved ones speak in remembrance of the departed. The key difference is that there is no body present. Instead, a photo of the deceased is typically displayed on an easel or board at the front of the room, surrounded by flowers at the family’s request. Because there is no body present, a memorial service can be held at any time after death, up to a year after the passing.
  4. Committal Service: The committal occurs following a funeral procession in which attendees drive from the funeral home or church to the gravesite. The casket is removed from the hearse at the front of the procession and carried to the gravesite. There, a clergy member or officiant may give a reading from scripture, and loved ones are given a final chance to say goodbye to the departed. The casket is then lowered into the ground (or the urn placed in a mausoleum or other resting place). Popular traditions at the committal include placing a handful of dirt or a flower into the open grave. Some families elect to go straight to this ceremony rather than hold a formal funeral service prior.
  5. Funeral Reception: Following the internment, families may choose to host a reception at a private home or public reception hall. This gives mourners the chance to interact and share stories about the deceased, as well as pay their respects to family members one-on-one. Receptions are often catered, or have food provided by friends and family.

Mountain View Funeral Home is here to assist you every step of the way, from organizing and hosting a wake through the committal and reception. Our services include advanced planning, onsite cremation or burial, and providing options for your loved one’s final resting place.  We welcome you to call us 24/7 at 480-832-2850 or contact us online for information.