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The 4 Types of Funeral Services

“One size fits all” does not apply to funeral services. There are many different types of funeral arrangements available, and funeral homes can easily customize a funeral to reflect the unique personality of the deceased while also catering to the wishes of the family.

types of funeral services

Funeral services have evolved over the years due to changing religious and cultural traditions as well as shifts in social norms.

Trends have also influenced funerals, e.g., green burials and crowdfunded funerals have recently grown in popularity. Yet despite the various options for funeral arrangements that abound, the tried and true basic funeral services still remain.


The main types of funeral services fall under these four basic categories:

  1. Traditional Funeral
  2. Direct Burial
  3. Direct Cremation
  4. Graveside Service

Traditional Funeral Services

A traditional funeral service includes a viewing or visitation, a funeral ceremony, and burial at the gravesite. Also known as a “full service” funeral, traditional funerals tend to be the main package offered by most funeral homes. It starts off with a viewing/visitation, where attendees can view the body and pay their respects to the family. Embalming is usually recommended for viewings, although the casket can remain closed per the family’s wishes.

A funeral service follows the viewing/visitation and is held at a funeral home, church, or other event space. Traditional funerals usually include elements such as prayers, eulogies, readings, and music. Afterwards, the body is transported by procession to the cemetery/burial location and interred in the grave. There may also be a funeral reception or repast for family and friends of the deceased to come together after the burial.

Direct Burial

A direct burial happens when the deceased is buried shortly after death without any funeral service or other formal ceremony. The funeral home obtains the death certificate and required permits, prepares the body, and arranges transportation to the cemetery for burial.

Direct burial tends to be an affordable funeral option as embalming of the body isn’t necessary and a simple box can be used for burial instead of an expensive casket. The lack of ceremonial services also cuts down on overall funeral costs, but the cost of the cemetery plot should be taken into account when figuring total expenses. Cemetery grave plots can be pricey depending on the location.

Direct Cremation

A direct cremation happens when the deceased is cremated shortly after death without any funeral service or other formal ceremony. Embalming is unnecessary as there is no viewing/visitation, and a cardboard container can be used for the cremation process.

The cremated ashes are placed in an urn which can be buried below or above ground, scattered, or kept by the family. Direct cremation is an inexpensive funeral option and is rapidly growing in popularity with price-conscious consumers.

Graveside Service

A graveside service (also known as committal service) occurs when the funeral service takes place at the cemetery or burial site. Funeral attendees gather at the gravesite for a ceremony led by a chosen officiant and as with traditional funeral services, there may be eulogy readings, prayers, and music (although a graveside service tends to be a shorter affair).

After the service the body is lowered into the grave or placed in a mausoleum or crypt. If the deceased was cremated, the urn holding the ashes can either be buried, scattered, or placed in a columbarium niche.

What is a Memorial Service?

A memorial service differs from a funeral service in that the body is not present. A memorial service is usually held after the deceased is buried and there is no viewing or visitation. However if cremation was the method of disposition, the urn containing the cremated ashes can be present during the memorial service.

Some families hold memorial services as a way to memorialize their loved ones, while others view memorial services as celebration of life events where family and friends of the deceased can gather in remembrance, share memories, and support each other in grief.

There are numerous possibilities when it comes to choosing a funeral service. Funeralocity helps you find and compare funeral homes in your area so you can select the type of funeral service that best fits your needs.

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Average Funeral Cost: What to Expect and Plan For

average funeral cost breakdownHow much does an average funeral cost, you ask? Well, it’s never the answer you want to hear but…it depends. A funeral isn’t just one thing – it is a composition of arrangements, meetings, preparations, paperwork, and everything in between.

There is a lot of planning that goes into a traditional funeral service with varying options and packages to choose from, so average funeral costs will depend on a combination of all these factors.

However, it’s common knowledge that funerals are expensive. If you are planning a funeral for your loved one and prefer a traditional burial instead of cremation, be prepared for a case of sticker shock.

Average Funeral Cost Breakdown: Fees and Charges

According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the median cost of an adult funeral with viewing and burial for calendar year 2016 was $7,360. For most consumers, understanding exactly what they’re getting for their funeral money can help them come to terms with what might seem like outrageous prices.

Here’s a breakdown of the $7,360 average funeral cost to help shed some light on funeral charges:

ITEM $$$
Funeral Director Services – these are the basic services provided by the funeral director which are non-declinable. They include filing the death certificate, procuring permits, arranging the funeral service, ensuring safe handling of remains during transportation, and general overhead expenses. $2,100
Removal of Remains – transferring the body from place of death to funeral home. $325
Embalming – although strongly recommended for funeral viewings, embalming is not a legal requirement if the body is immediately buried or cremated. But embalming may be necessary in certain cases, e.g., traditional funeral with viewing. $725
Body Preparation – this includes services such as washing the body, clothing, makeup, and hair styling. $250
Viewing & Ceremony – these fees include rental charges for the funeral home venue and staff labor costs. Total charges depend on the type of ceremony, size of the space, and location of the facility (add extra money if you plan on serving food). Visitation1 Funeral Ceremony2 $4251



Transportation – charges for a hearse, limousine and/or other service vehicle, plus extra if there is a funeral procession. Procession fees depend on travel distance and number of participants. $475
Memorial Print Package – this comprises costs for funeral programs, memorial cards, printed keepsakes, etc. $160
Casket – this is the big-ticket item. Caskets are synonymous with traditional burial and come in all shapes and sizes from a simple pine box to a top of the line gold casket. $2,400
Total Median cost of Funeral with Viewing and Burial $7,360

Note: other amenities such as flowers, clergy honorarium, musicians, memorial videography, obituary filing, etc., are considered additional costs and will need to be added to the overall budget as necessary.

Six Feet Under

Last but not least, there are burial expenses to take into account after the funeral service is over. Usually, burial occurs in a cemetery and it is assumed that the family has already paid for the cemetery grave plot. In addition to the cost of the plot, most cemeteries require a burial vault or grave liner to prevent the grave from sinking further into the ground as the casket declines over time.

Grave liners cost a little less as they cover only the top and sides of the casket while a burial vault surrounds the casket and is often made of reinforced concrete. The median cost of a vault is $1,395.

Other burial expenses include:

  • Interment fees – opening and closing the grave.
  • Headstone – this can be a flat grave marker or a more elaborate tomb monument.
  • Cemetery perpetual care fees – perpetual care ensures continuing maintenance and care of the gravesite but is only offered by some cemeteries.

To find out more about average funeral costs in your area, visit Funeralocity and compare prices of funeral homes in your location.

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Famous Last Words

The last moments before death can be enlightening. Family and friends often listen carefully to hear the last utterances of their loved ones on their death bed. These comments can range from the practical to worldly advice to words full of wit, wisdom and warmth.

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