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Components of a Memorial Service Explained

Funeral traditions across the U.S. are like a varied tapestry that provides texture to pay homage to the complex lives that we lead. Each element of a memorial service is designed to create a community of love and support that will continue throughout the difficult days ahead. Standard components of a memorial service often include the visitation before the service, the memorial service itself, interment or committal ceremonies and finally a reception. 


Family and friends gather to trade stories — both funny and emotional — and view videos or slideshows of the departed. Often seen as a time to renew old friendships and see far-flung family members, the visitation has a more relaxed atmosphere than the formal service. Your funeral home can offer guidance for visitation practices based on your spiritual background, but this time of fellowship often takes place in the day or two preceding the memorial service. 

Memorial Service

The key parts of the service itself include the opening remarks, honoring or remembrance by family or through music and song, a litany, poem or prayer that provides a spirit of healing and gratitude for your loved one and finally words of inspiration that could include a blessing in religious services. 

  • Music helps set the tone, and may provide emotional support for grieving family members and friends. For example, a celebration of life may be a more uplifting and light-hearted service than one that is planned for someone who was very dignified or tranquil in life. Feel free to incorporate various favorites into the service as a way to personalize the time.
  • Readings can be either spiritual or poetic, read by family members or a clergy person as your needs dictate.
  • While the eulogy is often written and read or delivered by members of the immediate family, this portion of the service may also be performed by a close friend or your clergy person. 

Committal Services

Not every memorial service includes committal, as this ritual is dictated by the wishes of the deceased and their family. Committal services may take place at the burial ground, crematorium, funeral home or a local chapel and are a shorter version of the memorial service that includes many of the same elements of song as well as litanies or prayers. 

The reception is often the most joyful part of any memorial service, as friends and family members begin to relax and start to envision their life moving forward. Need suggestions on planning or preparing for a memorial service? Contact our compassionate and knowledgeable funeral directors at 480-832-2850. At Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery, we promise to always treat you and your loved ones with dignity.


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