On paper, a visitation and a funeral may seem very similar, and in some ways they are, but there actually are quite a few distinct differences that set them apart. These two are fairly easy to mix up, especially for those who have not had much experience attending these types of services or may not have attended these services at all. If you fall into one of these categories and don’t know which you should attend don’t worry, we at Holland Supply will walk you through the differences so you can decide which to attend and what to expect when you do.

Difference Between Visitation and Funeral

While the visitation and the funeral are often lumped together, they are quite different. While many know what a funeral entails, they may be less knowledgeable about visitations. Before you choose which to attend, if not both, you need to know the difference between the two.


Visitations allow visitors to gather to mourn and support one another as they celebrate the life of a loved one. These gatherings are typically less formal than the funeral service. Guests spend this time consoling the deceased’s family and sharing pleasant memories. There may also be a viewing of the body during the visitation, allowing guests to say their final goodbyes. While a viewing isn’t always part of the visitation it is quite common, though some may prefer to have a closed casket ceremony.

The visitation happens before the actual funeral service. While they are often held directly before the funeral service, they can also be held several days before the funeral. Visitations can be held at any time as long as it is before the funeral. Not only are visitations flexible when it comes to timing, they are also flexible when it comes to location. While it may be most convenient to have the visitation in the same place as the funeral, they can be had at practically any location. Many choose to have them at funeral homes or churches, but they can also be held at a loved one’s house, a place of significance to the deceased, or anywhere that can accommodate a large gathering of guests.


Many people are more familiar with the concept of a funeral compared to visitations and have a better idea of what to expect. Funerals are more formal ceremonies that take place following the visitation. Funerals are more tightly structured and have a shorter set time slot. This is where the guests come to mourn and reflect on the life of the deceased. Many people opt for a more traditional service for their funerals, with religious rituals and readings of passages, though it is not required.

Typically, funerals take place at funeral homes but may be held at a church or chapel according to the clients’ preferences. The duration of the funeral relies on the availability of the funeral home in most cases. This is often true for visitations as well though that can be avoided by holding it elsewhere.

Which Should I Attend?

Now that you know the difference between the two services you must decide which to attend. Which you decide to attend relies on two criteria.

  1. Do you prefer a more formal or informal service?
  2. How close are you to the deceased?

If you prefer more informal and relaxed enviorments you would probably prefer the visitation. On the other hand, if you prefer a more somber enviroment to mourn you may prefer the funeral. Take into account the way you need to process your grief and take action accordingly.

Take into account how close you are to the deceased and whether you would regret missing either service. Both of these services only happen once so make sure you attend whatever service you need to get the closure you need and to give the support others might need.

Learn More

The death care industry can be difficult to navigate, but it doesn’t have to be. At Holland Supply, we work with you to help you get the products and information you need. Check out our blog to learn more!

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