What Does a Funeral Service Include?

Planning funeral services for a loved one can be difficult, as there are often many emotions and stages of grief involved. However, many people find that planning and putting on a funeral can be therapeutic and help with the grieving process.

One of the biggest challenges that comes with planning a funeral involves knowing what to include, the order in which the funeral should go and the different types of funerals popular today. If you recently lost a loved one or are expecting a loss soon, you may want to learn more about the process. Read on for in-depth detail about what a typical funeral looks like so that you can decide what you feel is appropriate for your close friend or family member.

What Does a Typical Funeral Service Look Like?

While no two funeral home services will look exactly the same, there are a few elements that most traditional funeral programs include.


Visitation or a viewing is an event that is held directly prior to the funeral itself. This is the time when attendees are able to visit with the family of the deceased and offer their condolences in person. In some cases, this may involve a viewing of the body in the casket, but it doesn’t have to. Visitation takes place the evening before the funeral and/or just before on the same day.


Almost all funerals, whether they’re religious and held in a church or secular and held at a funeral home, utilize music. From hymns to popular songs, music is an element that adds to the service and provides mourners with moving moments and memories.

The choice of music for a funeral depends largely on the person whose life you are celebrating. They may have already chosen what music they would like played at their funeral. In many cases, favorite songs of the deceased are selected to remind attendees of that person. 


Most funerals also will have readings of some sort. Some may include scriptures and eulogies, while others may involve poetry or song lyrics. In some cases, multiple people may read eulogies that they have written. And in some funerals, a speaker is chosen to talk about the deceased.

Committal Service

Many, but not all, funerals may include a committal service, which is the ritual during which the deceased’s body is interred. Some may hold a graveside service where more words are spoken, while others may opt not to have anyone but the immediate family attend this portion of the funeral.


Because many people travel to attend funerals, it is common for the family of the deceased to host a reception after the funeral. The purpose of this element of the funeral is to allow attendees time to gather and share memories, catch up with family members and celebrate the life of the deceased. This element is not required, but many people feel that it is a thank you of sorts shown to those who attended the funeral.

What Is the Usual Order of a Funeral Service?

When planning a funeral service, it is important to create an order for the event to follow. As mentioned above, all funerals are not created equal, but they usually loosely follow a specific order.


Both secular and religious funerals begin with a welcome, either by a religious leader or a funeral home director.

Prayer or Moment of Silence

Depending on the wishes of the deceased, there may be an opening prayer or a moment of silence following the welcome. There could also be a song that all attendees sing, whether a hymn or a favorite song.


Next up is often when a selected person or persons read eulogies or scriptures, depending on whether the funeral is secular or religious. This is also when the mic may be passed around to offer attendees the opportunity to share special memories of the deceased. In more traditional funerals, the program usually follows a more structured format, with people asked ahead of time to read or speak rather than allowing for an open mic.


How a funeral service concludes also depends on whether it is secular or religious. A secular funeral may finish up with another favorite song and a thank you for those who attended. A religious funeral usually ends with a song and a benediction.

What Is the Most Popular Type of Funeral Service?

What is popular when it comes to funeral services today is much different than it was in the past. Previously, almost all funerals were religious in nature and took place within a church or synagogue. Today, funerals can be customized to fit the wishes of the deceased and his or her family. However, there are two types of funeral services that continue to be the most popular.

Traditional Service

A traditional funeral service is still a popular option, mostly because it is tried and true and doesn’t require the family of the deceased to reinvent the wheel. This type of service typically follows the above-mentioned order and contains the most common elements, including prayers, readings, eulogies, music, committal services and receptions, in that order.

Memorial Service

Some people are moving away from a traditional funeral service toward a memorial service. This is a more casual event that incorporates a variety of elements that are personalized and made to fit the wishes of the deceased. A memorial service is a good way to get more people involved, because everyone invited usually has the opportunity to share their feelings, thoughts and memories about the deceased.

The Right Funeral Service for Your Loved One

The funeral that you plan for your loved one can look and feel however you want. It doesn’t have to follow the typical order or contain any elements that don’t feel right. Working with a funeral home director, you can put together an event that honors the life of your deceased loved one and makes everyone feel loved and included. Whatever you decide, our team of compassionate, experience funeral care providers can answer all your questions when planning for a loved one’s funeral. Please contact us today at our Marietta, Fairburn or Eastlawn locations—we’re always here to help.

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