Is there a difference between funeral home and a mortuary?

Is there a difference between funeral home and a mortuary?

Although there are slight differences between a funeral home and a mortuary establishment, they are very similar in that both care for and prepare the decedent for burial or cremation. Both are responsible for preparing and filing the necessary paperwork with the county and/or state in order to proceed with the processes of burial or cremation.

The differences, while subtle, lie in the emphasis placed on services for the survivors.

Funeral Home

Typically a funeral home is able to provide a more full-service experience and often in more opulent surroundings centered on the comfort of the surviving family members. Funeral homes employ funeral directors which help to coordinate the various aspects of memorialization a family may choose. Funeral directors are also trained in grief counseling.

The services and products offered by many funeral homes can be extensive from grand services for large groups with multi-media capabilities, event coordinators, catering, and music to very intimate private options. They also may offer a vast array of memorialization products such as service booklets, photos, jewelry, art, mementos and unique caskets and urns. They often help to write and/or publish an obituary in a newspaper.

It should be noted that often a funeral home will not have a crematory (facility for the process of cremation) on-site. This will mean the funeral home staff will arrange for transportation of the deceased to a secondary facility for the cremation process and then have the cremated remains transported back to the funeral home.


Although the outcome is the same — burial or cremation — a mortuary is often more focused on the mortuary sciences of caring for and preparing the body for burial or cremation. The organization may be more to the point, offering direct services such as a quick viewing for immediate family members and cremation without full-scale memorialization services. This is not always the case but the consumer should be aware of this potential difference.

The mortuary may offer less services but may also cost significantly less. One key difference is that only a mortuary offers on-site cremation. The mortuary may or may not involve a funeral director (although in some states a funeral director is required to be involved).

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The facility may be much more basic and not focused on the comfort of the consumer. It should be noted that there are blended facilities that are very comfortable, full service with funeral directors and offer on-site cremation. It is recommended that you ask questions, view pictures on the company’s website, and take a tour before deciding which organization is right for you.

To learn more about how you can choose body donation for science and still have either full service memorial services with or without burial of the cremated remains please call our Family Services Coordinators at 800.417.3747. We would be happy to assist in answering all of your questions.

Call now: 800.417.3747

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