In Singapore, commemorating a loved one takes various forms, influenced heavily by personal, cultural and spiritual preferences. Understanding the differences between a memorial service and a living funeral is valuable in making an informed decision that honours the memory and spirit of the departed.

This article explores 5 key distinctions in the living funeral vs memorial service, helping families decide which service best aligns with their values and the wishes of their loved one.

Whether you seek a traditional remembrance or a more personal farewell, knowing these differences can guide you through planning a meaningful and respectful tribute.


What Are Memorial Services?

Memorial services are ceremonies or gatherings to remember someone who has died, often after cremation or burial. These services provide a pivotal moment for family members and friends to come together to pay their respects, share cherished memories and honour the life of the departed.

Typically more formal or traditional than other forms of remembrance, a memorial service can be religious or secular and may feature readings, music, speeches and video tributes.

Unlike a traditional funeral, the memorial service usually occurs without the deceased person’s body present, offering a distinct way to celebrate their life.

In Singapore, while not as common as traditional funeral services, memorial services are still a respected form of commemoration that can be organised by family members, friends and professional funeral service providers.


What Are Living Funerals?

A living funeral is a contemporary and personalised event that celebrates a person’s life while they are still alive. This celebration is often held in a less formal or creative setting that reflects the individual’s spirit and personality.

During these celebrations, family members, caring friends and loved ones gather to honour the achievements and the impact the person has had on those around them. It allows the individual to share their life story, say goodbye and express appreciation and feelings towards their loved ones.

Living funerals also provide closure and are a beautiful way for many families to create lasting, cherished memories. These events can be held in various locations tailored to be as formal or informal as desired, focusing on healing and meaningful reflection on the person’s life.


5 Differences Between A Memorial Service And A Living Funeral

A memorial service and a living funeral differ significantly in several key aspects, including their timing, purpose, setting, planning and financial implications.

Understanding these differences helps individuals and families decide which service best honours their loved one’s memory. Both types of services provide valuable opportunities for remembrance, but they cater to different preferences and needs.

1. Timing

Living funerals are unique because they occur before the person passes away. This allows the individual to be part of the celebration, hear the tributes and even participate in saying goodbye to their family and friends.

Examples include pre-planned gatherings where a terminally ill individual can interact with friends and family, sharing memories and appreciation.

In contrast, memorial services are typically held after the person has passed away, usually following cremation or burial, and occur without the deceased’s body present. This traditional timing helps those left behind to come together and honour the deceased after their departure.

2. Purpose

A living funeral focuses primarily on saying goodbye to their loved ones, expressing their feelings and receiving closure.

These events are designed to pay respects and actively involve the person in sharing memories and receiving expressions of love and gratitude from family and friends.

They transform what could be a mournful goodbye into a positive celebration filled with laughter and joy, emphasising the beauty and impact of the loved one’s life.

This unique approach allows for a profound and heartwarming experience, making living funerals a memorable and healing occasion for the individual and their caring friends and family.

In contrast, memorial services serve a dual purpose. They provide the bereaved family and friends a space to support each other, helping them process their grief through shared stories and memories.

A memorial service celebrates the deceased’s legacy and life, offering a platform for loved ones to pay tribute and remember the person in their absence.

This service also aims to bring closure and facilitate the healing process, ensuring that the memory of the beloved family member lives on. It is a step for many families to honour their loved ones with dignity and respect, often following or instead of a traditional funeral service.

3. Planning

When planning a living funeral, the individual or their family can have the opportunity to plan the event into a truly personal celebration.

They can select themes, music, memory tables, hire a videographer and other elements that resonate with the person’s life and preferences.

This proactive approach allows the person to share their story, express desires and connect meaningfully with loved ones.

Everything from the venue and date to the music and activities like memory tables can be tailored to reflect the life being celebrated. This creates a party-like atmosphere that focuses on happy memories for those who want to say goodbye before death.

Meanwhile, memorial services involve more structured planning, often facilitated by family members, friends and a professional funeral director. While these services can also be highly personalised, they typically give the surviving family and friends a chance to pay tribute that honours the person’s life and memory.

Funeral homes or funeral service providers can assist in organising memorial services, ensuring that all elements—from eulogies and photo slideshows to music and closing remarks—are thoughtfully arranged to reflect the individual’s impact and the family’s wishes.

4. Setting

Memorial services offer a wide range of flexibility in terms of location, accommodating the diverse preferences of different families. These services can be held in traditional settings such as funeral homes or in more personal locations like a family home or outdoors at a beloved spot.

The choice of venue plays a role in reflecting the personality and wishes of the deceased, and facilities like funeral homes often assist in planning and coordinating these aspects, ensuring a respectful and fitting environment for guests attending to pay tribute.

Living funerals, on the other hand, are known for their varied and often informal settings that truly reflect the individual’s personality and preferences. These events might be held in gardens, community centres and even at sea, depending on the preferences or what was meaningful to the individual.

The focus is on creating a comfortable, healing and familiar atmosphere where family and friends can freely share memories and celebrate the life lived.

Unlike more traditional funeral services, living funerals allow for a more creative and personalised approach to celebrating the life of a loved one before they pass away, often making these gatherings feel more like closure and celebrating the legacy of the individual than a solemn occasion.

5. Financial Aspect

The cost of living funerals can often be less than traditional funerals. This is due to their typically less formal nature and the absence of traditional funeral costs like casket purchase and burial fees.

Living funerals focus on personalisation and simplicity, reflecting the individual’s unique personality and values without the need for expensive funeral services.

This makes the experience more intimate, genuine and financially accessible, transforming the mourning process into a living funeral that is shared at a potentially lower cost.

Memorial services, however, can vary widely in cost depending on the choices made regarding venue, number of attendees and the additional services or elements included, such as catering, floral arrangements and professional fees.

Funeral homes and service providers offer a variety of packages that cater to different budgets and preferences, allowing families to tailor services to their financial and emotional needs.

Consulting with a funeral service provider like Casket Fairprice can provide a detailed breakdown of costs, helping families make informed decisions that honour their loved ones without undue financial burden.


Conclusion About A Living Funeral Vs Memorial Service

Choosing the right type of service to honour a loved one—whether a memorial service or a living funeral—is a deeply personal decision that should align with both the family’s and the deceased’s desires and values.

Each type of service offers unique benefits and can be tailored to reflect the personality and life of the person being remembered.

At Casket Fairprice, we understand the importance of providing a service that respects these preferences while offering comfort and support to the grieving family.

As a trusted name in funeral services in Singapore, we are equipped with our funeral parlours, embalming facilities and a dedicated team of experienced funeral directors. Our services are designed to cater to the diverse needs of our community, adhering to local funeral rites, traditions and customs.

Whether you are pre-planning a living funeral to celebrate life with loved ones or arranging a memorial service after a beloved family member’s passing, Casket Fairprice can guide you through the process with empathy and professionalism.

We pride ourselves on our transparency, ensuring that what we quote and advertise is what we deliver.

Contact Casket Fairprice today to book our services and experience a dignified and caring approach to funeral planning in Singapore.


Frequently Asked Questions About A Living Funeral Vs Memorial Service

How Do People Typically Dress For A Living Funeral Compared To A Memorial Service In Singapore?

In Singapore, attire for a living funeral is generally more relaxed and personal, reflecting the deceased’s style or favourite colours. Guests might wear bright, cheerful colours to signify celebration and remembrance. 

Conversely, dress at a memorial service tends to be more conservative and formal, with attendees often wearing black or sombre colours as a sign of mourning and respect.

Can A Living Funeral Cater To Children Who Will Soon Be Dead?

Yes, a living funeral can certainly be arranged for children who are terminally ill. These events are deeply personalised to celebrate the child’s life, bringing joy and love into their remaining days. 

It can involve their favourite activities, music and stories, making it a heartfelt and meaningful experience that acknowledges their life and impact on their loved ones.

Can A Memorial Service Or Living Funeral Be Held For Pets?

Yes, both memorial services and living funerals can be held for pets. Many people view their pets as family members and choose to honour them with a ceremony that reflects their importance.

These services can include sharing stories of the pet, displaying photographs and even holding a small gathering at a favourite park or in the home.

Are There Alternatives To Traditional Memorial Services?

Yes, there are several alternatives to traditional memorial services. These can include virtual memorials, eco-friendly ceremonies such as tree-planting memorials, or even more intimate gatherings like living room memorials where family and friends share stories and memories in a comfortable home setting.

Can A Eulogy Be Part Of A Living Funeral?

Yes, a eulogy can be a central part of a living funeral. Even though these events are generally more upbeat and personalised, a eulogy provides a moment to formally honour and reflect on the life of the deceased.

It can be delivered by a close friend, family member and anyone strongly connected to the person being celebrated.

What Should I Include In A Memorial Service Programme?

A memorial service programme should include an outline of the ceremony detailing the sequence of events, such as musical interludes, readings, eulogies and moments of silence.

It’s also customary to include a brief biography of the deceased, photos and perhaps quotes or poems that were significant to them. The programme might also list the names of those participating in the service, such as speakers or performers.