The traditional American funeral ceremony is actually comprised of three distinct, yet separate, ceremonies or events:
Relatives and friends gather to show their respect for the deceased... as well as love, support, and encouragement to the surviving family.
The Visitation A visitation (also referred to as a viewing, calling hours, or a gathering), which allows family and friends to come together in an informal setting at the funeral home.
The Service A funeral service (also called a ceremony, memorial service, or a celebration of life), is usually a more formal, scripted, event, often involving clergy, and may be based on religious beliefs, the eulogy (or life story), prayers, reading of scripture, and poems.
The Committal A committal provides the closure to the funeral event. All are equally important. From our own experiences, we have found that the visitation meets most families emotional needs, while the funeral service meets most families spiritual needs. The commital provides a ritual closing to the ceremonies.