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Glossary of tribute options

By Erica Lamberg
Similar memorial events exist across the spectrum of religious and cultural beliefs - but what those events are called can vary widely. Here's a quick glossary of terms. Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas / Pexels

A variety of services, religious rites or events can be held to commemorate the departed. Here are several of the most common, explained.

Visitation

This event provides an opportunity to share expressions of sympathy. Typically, a visitation takes place in a religious setting or a funeral home. The family can also accept calls of sympathy in a home setting. The family will share times for the visitation and guests come and go within the timeframe.

Wake

A wake is similar to visitation as it allows people to comfort the family. Unlike a visitation that may be more intimate, a wake encourages family and friends to gather together. The wake is usually scheduled the day before a funeral.   

Graveside service

A graveside service is an abbreviated service before a burial. Mourners are in a smaller, more intimate setting, and a clergy leader generally leads the service. A graveside service can be more cost effective than an event at a funeral home.

Funeral

During a traditional funeral, the body of the deceased is in a coffin or casket. An officiant or clergy leader presides over the funeral. The service can be held at a funeral home, house of worship or church. Burial follows at a cemetery.

Memorial service

This event is planned to honor and pay tribute. Guests are encouraged to share memories which give comfort to mourners. There are often religious aspects at the event.

Celebration of life

This a way to honor the deceased with a tone that is not solemn. Mourning is not the purpose; it’s a time to share stories, memories and celebrate a life well lived. A celebration of life can be held in a private home or public venue. There can be singing, videos, photographs and catering.

Post-service reception

Families often host a post-service reception to thank mourners for their prayers and support. This event permits friends and family to support one another, help with grieving, and continue to remember the person lost. This gathering can include casual dining in a private home, or a formal lunch or dinner in a restaurant, catering hall or banquet venue. This reception allows family and friends more time to talk and remember their loved one.

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