graveside service/graveside committal - and is it graveside or gravesite?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by whodouthinkyouare, Jun 20, 2007.

  1. whodouthinkyouare

    whodouthinkyouare Senior Member

    What is the difference between a graveside service and a graveside committal after funeral?
  2. tepatria Senior Member

    Onondaga, Ontario
    Canadian English
    A service involves a religious rite. The actual funeral service could be held at the graveside. A graveside commital is a few words spoken over the coffin before the coffin is placed in (committed to) the ground.
  3. AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States
    Hi whodoyouthinkyouare, ( I always want to finish your name with the next line in that song: Mr. Big Stuff.)

    In a Roman Catholic funeral, there's the funeral Mass at church, and then the car procession to the cemetery,where there is a final, smaller service at the gravesite, with the priest blessing the deceased with holy water and "releasing" him into the ground.

    Sometimes other prayers might be recited. There may be some special music performed at the site, (TAPS being played, for instance.), and the final good-byes are actually said.

    The casket isn't covered in dirt until after the family has left.

    Sometimes, there isn't a church service, and the entire ceremony is conducted at the gravesite, so the moving from the actual service into the committal service is rather seamless, it might seem, because everything is taking place right there.

    I know here in Michigan, in the winter when it's freezing out, this final part of the funeral takes place inside a small chapel that's on the grounds of the cemetery. The "committing" of the body back into the earth is rather symbolic when done like this, because the casket is still not in the ground yet.

    This is how I understand the distinct steps to be different from each other. I hope this helps!

  4. dn88 Senior Member

    By the way, should it be "graveside" or "gravesite"?

    I've heard of it as a whole expression "graveside/gravesite committal service".


  5. AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States

    That's a great question! It happens at the gravesite.

    But you could also say the ceremony takes place graveside.

    I would say Gravesite is the noun, and Graveside is the adverb.

    Maybe others will have more insight.

    No, graveside is either an adjective or noun. In my opinion, either word could be used then.

  6. whodouthinkyouare

    whodouthinkyouare Senior Member

    I have the phrase Graveside Commital after Funeral...
  7. dn88 Senior Member

    Thank you, AngelEyes. :) I actually think that both are nouns, however, their meanings differ from each other. :)

    graviside - the area on the side of a grave

    gravesite - the place where graves are dug

    Does it make a great difference?

  8. AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States
    Boy, it's such a tiny difference, I wouldn't have a problem using either word.

    True, the Committal Service takes place directly next to (at the side of)the place in the ground the casket will go, but it's also taking place at the gravesite - the site of the grave.

    I'm really picky, but in this situation, either word would work for me. :)

    Graveside does have a certain reverence to it, though. I do think I like this one best.

  9. dn88 Senior Member

    Thank you for your patience, AngelEyes. :D
  10. AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States
    No, thank you for making me think.

  11. Oeco

    Oeco Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    English - US
    Interesting. In the US the place is usually called a gravesite. Graveside is used mostly as an adjective in my experience. Graveside services. Graveside prayers. Not that gravesite can't also be used that way. The WR Dictionary doesn't have an entry for either of these words!

    Merriam-Webster seems to agree with you. It has graveside but not gravesite!

    google also seems to agree, with double the number of hits for "graveside services" than for "gravesite services." I'll have to ponder all that the rest of this day.
  12. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In this thread:
    funeral wake
    Oeco referred to gravesite ...
    I replied:
    (Oeco mentioned "gravesite" a few times.
    I would substitute "graveside" in each case, so the funeral ceremony is held at the graveside, or there is an additional graveside ceremony.)

    ... then I found this thread :)
  13. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    ... where I see that there are several who expect gravesite rather than graveside. That is interesting.
    In my mind, graveside is the proper term for the place at the side of the grave where the committal happens and where the mourners stand. It is the adjective of choice for that kind of ceremony.
    It is perhaps worth noting that a graveside is only a graveside when the grave is open. Standing in exactly the same place some weeks later I would be at the grave, not at the graveside.
    Gravesite conjures up a very different idea. To me, a gravesite is an archaeological (phew) location.

    To summarise, my own perspective on this is:
    The graveside is close to the open grave.
    The grave is the place of burial.
    The gravesite is something related to archaeology.

    The British National Corpus has one gravesite, referring to Arlington, and 44 gravesides.

    The Corpus of Contemporary American English has 159 gravesites, 166 gravesides.

    Is this really another AE/BE difference?
  14. Oeco

    Oeco Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    English - US
    That could be. But interestingly I just got a note this morning from a man planning his wife's funeral and he used the word "graveside" in the note.

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