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What is a Traditional Funeral?

Reducing stress in funeral planning starts with being informed. You know that you want the funeral service to be something that honours the memory of the deceased person. You want to create a space for family members to remember their loved one, and a funeral program which aligns with their wishes. In this blog post, we provide a guide on how a traditional funeral can offer a funeral service template to achieve just this.

Gravestones in a forrest

Choosing the right funeral program for you

A funeral can be an important way to honour the life of a loved one. Whilst there's an array of funeral programs, memorial service and tailored funeral memorial service templates to choose from- sometimes traditional is best.

Whether it's what the deceased person wanted, or just a complete program template that helps ease planning for you- a traditional funeral program can help you plan a meaningful farewell. The process and specific elements can be modified to your needs, and there are no rules in how you memorialise or reflect the personality of a loved one in their funeral.

What are traditional funerals?

A traditional funeral typically involves a visitation or wake, followed by a memorial service, and then a burial in a cemetery. During the visitation, family and friends may gather to pay their respects and offer condolences to the family.

The funeral service often includes music, prayers, and eulogies that celebrate the life of the deceased person- in a way which reflects their tradition, cultures and personality. The traditional funeral program may also include the use of a casket or urn, and may have religious or cultural cultures incorporated into the service.

To help you in creating a funeral program tailored to you and the deceased person; we break down these components below:


A traditional funeral normally starts with a viewing or visitation. Whether this is suitable may differ, depending on the circumstances surrounding the person who has passed and their families wishes.

Traditionally however, visitation is when attendees can view the body and express their condolences to the bereaved family. The difference between a viewing and a visitation is that a visitation is a closed casket and a viewing is an open casket.

This offers the chance for the community around the deceased to offer meaningful support and express their sympathy to the family- creating a supportive network at this difficult time. During this time, memories may be shared and people can gather to support and mourn the loss of their loved one.

Funeral Ceremony

The viewing/visitation is followed by the funeral ceremony. Funeral program templates for the ceremony vary depending on different cultures and family preferences, including:

This formal service gives loved ones the opportunity to celebrate the deceased's life and demonstrate the love and respect they had for the deceased loved one.

Holding a ceremony allows the immediate children, siblings and wider family to include friends and colleagues in the mourning process. It also gives each loved one the opportunity to create a personal sendoff which acts as a public legacy for the person who has passed.

A traditional funeral typically involves a formal ceremony conducted by a priest or celebrant.

Burial at the Gravesite

Mourners then make their way from the chapel or church where the ceremony was held to the cemetery. Depending on the distance, they can drive to the ceremony or simply walk it.

When they arrive members of the immediate family and close friends gather around the open grave, where the casket is lowered. They may choose to say a brief prayer or meaningful few words before the coffin is fully lowered.

While the coffin is lowered, mourners are invited to scatter soil or flowers in the grave. This is usually the most emotional part of the funeral, and can represent an important time for mourners to express their grief.

Mourners in all black gather around a casket at a graveside burial.

What are the different types of funeral programs?

Whilst traditional funeral templates can be helpful in creating a meaningful funeral for you, there are other ways to memorialise your loved one. Depending on resources and wishes of the deceased loved one- a traditional funeral program can be too expensive, or not suited to your needs.

With this in mind, there are many types of funerals you can hold without breaking the bank- ranging from a formal affair at a church, to a more casual memorial service at a public park or beach. The type of farewell you organise should be in line with your loved one's values, rather than attempting to replicate templates of what you think a funeral should be.

The types of funerals you can choose include:

Traditional Funeral

Traditional funerals consist of a viewing/visitation, funeral ceremony, and then the burial (or cremation).

Direct Burial

These are one of the most affordable ways to plan a meaningful funeral for the deceased. This is where there is a direct burial without a viewing/visitation or a funeral service. While the deceased's family may not be present at the burial, they can still organise a funeral service elsewhere. By doing it this way, they will only have to pay for the transportation of the body, and then burying/cremating it.

In putting off the need for a funeral program, direct funerals remove the unnecessary and more expensive elements of a traditional funeral. This can create more flexibility for the family of the deceased to grieve and memorialise their loved one, in their own time and budget.


Cremation has become one of the most popular ways to say goodbye to your loved ones in Australia. This is where the deceased's remains are disposed of by burning them to ashes. You can choose to hold a cremation after the funeral ceremony or you can hold a direct cremation without a funeral service.

Again, this option can create more flexibility for the family of the deceased. Allowing them to choose which funeral elements they want to include, and giving more time to plan a funeral program tailored to their needs and budget.

Graveside Service

While a traditional funeral includes a graveside service, some may opt to do this on its own. A graveside service is a brief committal service that takes place at the cemetery or crematorium once the funeral ceremony is completed.

A graveside service is conducted entirely at the graveside. You are able to have more privacy to say goodbye, or you can even make the service more fitting to your spiritual and religious beliefs, wishes, and your family traditions.


A memorial service is another way to celebrate the life and memory of your loved ones. However, unlike a funeral service, you don't have the presence of the deceased's body.

As a result, you can hold the memorial service any time before or after the burial or cremation. A memorial can be more informal than a typical funeral service, and you can use the time to reminisce and rejoice that person's life.

How are funerals held in Australia?

The templates for a funeral can differ based on religious, cultural or personal beliefs. This can differ based on an individual's:

  • Religion

  • Personal wishes

  • Family Plans

While everyone puts their own personal spin on their funeral program memorial service, a funeral service typically follows the order below:

1. Prelude – the opening part of the funeral. The family may request specific songs.

2. Introduction – the celebrant or religious leader gives welcoming remarks.

3. Opening readings – these typically include prayers, passages from other literature, or any special readings based on the family's request.

4. Obituary – a close family member or friend can read the deceased's person's obituary.

5. Eulogies – where guests share their final words about the deceased.

6. Closing – where the celebrant or officiant reads the final prayers, plays a song, or gives reminders about the next part of the service.

7. Graveside service – where close friends and family of the deceased gather to watch the body be lowered to the final resting place.

8. Repast or Wake – this is an informal reception after the funeral. This is where the family can receive support and condolences.

Choosing a funeral to honour the deceased person

Funeral programs can be adapted based on the wishes, beliefs and religion of the deceased person. Similarly, there is no set way or funeral program you need to adhere to. In choosing a funeral program, it's important to incorporate the elements suited to your budget and need to express grief.

Writing a meaningful obituary, sharing photos or playing personal music can be a free way to personalise a funeral program to you.

How Safewill Can Help

Safewill Cremations offer affordable, flexible and meaningful support to planning a funeral program around you. Call one of our dedicated funeral planners for a one-to-one chat on how we can support you. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on1300 730 639, or via livechat now.

Last updated 20th December 2021
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Lauren Barrientos
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