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How Long are Funerals?

If you’ve never attended a funeral or if it has been a little while since you did last, you may wonder what to expect in terms of timing and the order of services. When thinking of a funeral, many people often assume a “funeral” includes all of the traditions associated with the death of a loved one, such as the viewing, the funeral service itself, and the reception. In actuality, the funeral service itself is only a single part of many traditional ceremonies that can go along with losing a loved one, and every funeral can last a different amount of time, depending on the steps performed.

How long is a funeral?

The “funeral service” part of the funeral typically lasts from 30 minutes to an hour, but this should be distinguished from the wake, the committal, and the reception. If the individual was highly accomplished, a public figure, or has a family that’s planned a large amount of readings, the funeral services will last longer. Services usually include:

  • The viewing or wake. Wakes and viewings are essentially the same thing, a time for attendees to come together and have a final viewing of the body. This is a time for mourners to give their respects to both the family and say their final goodbyes to the deceased. Viewings are smaller and less formal than the funeral service and are usually meant for those closest to the deceased. Viewings, or wakes, can sometimes last hours but do not require you to stay the entire time. People will come and go during the viewing, especially if given a window of time.
  • The funeral service. The funeral service itself is often led by a religious leader or officiant and includes the reading of the eulogy, additional readings or prayers, songs and hymnals, religious rites, and the carrying of the casket. All of these sections will not appear in every single funeral service, and some of these (such as the eulogy) are forbidden in certain religions. The funeral service will generally last from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the person the service is for.
  • Committal or internment. The internment or committal is when the casket or urn is placed inside the burial vault or place of internment. This typically happens at the gravesite and occurs right after the funeral service. This part of the funeral usually lasts around 10 minutes.
  • Reception. The reception is usually held at the funeral home or at the family’s home and is a less formal event meant for attendees to gather and remember the deceased. Receptions generally last one to two hours and usually include food and drinks.

If the body is not present, there’s no need for a viewing or a burial. You can still have a visitation, which is similar, but without the actual body being present. In this case, the main service would officially be called a memorial service, as opposed to a funeral (although the terms are often used interchangeably). Memorial services generally last as long as funerals and usually include a memorial activity of some kind. Come prepared to participate in this activity with others and join in remembering the loss of a loved one. If it's a celebration of life (a type of memorial service), keep in mind that the atmosphere is likely to be more uplifting and celebratory than morose and somber.

How long is a Catholic funeral or a Christian funeral?

Catholic funerals have several specific steps that need to be performed in order: the ritual service, the funeral liturgy, and the rite of committal. Even with these specific steps, Catholic funerals usually last around 30 minutes, no longer than other types of funerals. Christian funerals will last around the same amount of time, 30 minutes or so.

How long is a typical memorial service?

A typical memorial service is not a long affair, again usually lasting around 30 minutes. If there are longer speeches or readings to be read, a memorial service can last longer, but in general half an hour is what to expect. Memorial services differ from funerals in that the body is not present at a memorial service.

Overall, the length of the funeral will depend on the person who passed away, their wishes, the family’s funeral plan, and the type of funeral you’re attending. If you’d like more information on funeral customs and what to expect when attending a funeral, check out more articles on funeral customs.

If you’re planning a funeral, you can easily share your funeral announcement, event details, obituary, and more by creating a memorial website. Memorial websites are free, easy to use, and an efficient way at keeping your funeral arrangements organized and attendees informed.

Create a memorial website

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Last updated October 19, 2021
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