What is a Life Celebration? How is it Different from a Funeral?

“What is a life celebration?” It’s a question we hear often these days. Many people wonder if it is the same thing as a funeral or something different entirely. So, let’s take a quick look at the two – including their similarities and differences – as we answer the question, “What is a life celebration?”

Life Celebrations and Funerals: The Similarities

The life celebration (also commonly called a “celebration of life”) and a funeral are similar in many ways. Obviously, they are both held to honor the life of someone who has passed away. They are both gatherings of family and friends, including those who might not have known the deceased but want to express their condolences to the family. And they both can be essential to the grieving process, helping family and friends cope with the loss of their loved one.

But deciding which type of memorial service is appropriate often comes down to the differences between the two. Let’s take a closer look:

Life Celebrations and Funerals: The Differences


Funerals are usually held at a funeral home or a place of worship. Life celebrations, however, can be held in homes, churches, outdoors at special locations, or perhaps even at a local pub or where a fraternal organization meets. In other words, a celebration of life is often held in a place that had special meaning to the deceased. Sometimes, celebrations of life are held in a distant place from where the deceased lived to let far-away loved ones say their goodbyes.


Funerals tend to be more formal and structured than life celebration services. Because of this, life celebrations can be lighter in tone and mood. After all, their purpose is to celebrate the unique life and personality of the departed, so that emphasis usually means the service itself is one-of-a-kind.


Funerals usually occur within a few days of the passing, while celebrations of life can often take place weeks or months later, providing enough time to gather family and friends, and to craft a highly personalized service.

The Body

Normally, the prepared body of the deceased is present in the funeral home or church during the funeral service. If the body was cremated, the remains are often present, as well. However, a life celebration service is usually held without the body present, as it has often been interred – or the ashes scattered – sometime earlier.

The Officiants

It is common for a pastor or the funeral director to lead a funeral service. A life celebration, on the other hand might be led by family members, friends, or a certified life celebrant.

So, what is a life celebration?

It is a modern way to honor a departed loved one in a way that can be very personal and meaningful. The celebration of life service does not need to be exclusive; it can be held after a traditional funeral has already taken place. Whether you and your family want to plan (or pre-plan) a funeral or life celebration, or both, we can help you make those arrangements and host the gatherings here at Stillinger Family Funeral Home in Greenfield, Indiana. To learn more, contact us at (317) 462-5536.

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