A memorial service or celebration of life is a joyous ceremony where friends and family come together to celebrate a life well lived. Rather than mourning the loss of the deceased, the purpose is to celebrate the joy the deceased brought to others during their lifetime.
The biggest and often most cited reason people hold a memorial service is personalization. Many people are no longer interested in holding a traditional funeral that follows religious customs especially if the deceased was not an overly religious person. A celebration of life service allows you to create a meaningful and personalized celebration that reflects the personality of deceased
A second benefit of planning a memorial service is convenience. Unlike a funeral service that must occur before the body is cremated or buried, a celebration of life occurs after the remains have been cared for. This allows the family more time to plan the event but also schedule it around a time that is convenient for everyone. It is not uncommon for families to hold the event days, weeks, or even months after the body is cared for.
Planning a memorial service is really a process of asking–and answering–questions. Sit down with other family members, at least once, but maybe even more than once; to explore the funeral memorial service ideas which arise from answering these questions.
To help prepare you for planning a memorial service, we’ve compiled a helpful checklist of steps to follow.
Who will be invited to the memorial service?
Before you can pick a location to hold the event, you need to get an idea of how many people will be in attendance. Write down the names of everyone you can think of who would want to attend. Once your list is made, you can begin to define the where, when and how of your memorial service. If you think of more people after you’ve completed this step, add them to your list.
Selecting a location and time for the memorial service
Once you have a list of who will be attending, you can start to focus on selecting a time and place for the memorial service. Be sure to check with anyone who will be travelling from out of town. If they have any travel or date related issues, do you best to schedule around them if it’s important that they be there.
Who will orchestrate the event?
If your loved one was religious, you may opt to have their pastor or church minister perform these tasks. However, many families today hire a non-denominational celebrant to oversee the memorial service.
Select who will speak at the memorial service?
Many times, family members or friends will be very direct about their desire to make a short presentation at the memorial service; other times you need to come out and ask folks if they would be willing to publicly share their thoughts and feelings. Either way, you'll want to select those people who have shared a close relationship with the deceased and have something meaningful to contribute.
Come up with some memorial service ideas
Memorial services and celebrations of life are all about personalization. Start to think about what your loved one enjoyed most about life. Now start to think of the different ways you could incorporate this into the service. Making the memorial celebrate the parts of life your loved one enjoyed will allow everyone to share memories, laugh, and even cry together as you celebrate a life well lived.
What food or beverages will be served?
What you serve may depend on the theme of your memorial service, or may be based on your loved one's favorite dishes. It's entirely up to you; we've even seen "pot luck" memorial services where guests actually sign up to bring select foods and beverages.
Select readings and music
Music is an integral part of life for many people, and a memorial service is the perfect event in which to showcase the meaningful music of your loved one's life. But, if your loved one didn't appreciate music (and lots of folks don’t), it may be more appropriate to read chosen spiritual selections, or excerpts from literature.
If your loved one was not overly religious, don’t feel like you need to include hymns or scripture. Instead, select poems, short stories, or songs that better reflect them.
What detail of your loved one’s life do you want to share?
Not every biographical detail needs to be highlighted; rather you're trying to capture their essence by telling revealing anecdotes or stories. Sometimes you can reveal their character by detailing one short moment in their life experience.
Decorating the memorial service
Many families create a tribute video and use it as the centerpiece of the event. Others choose to use a memory table of photographs and other memorabilia instead. If you are planning a theme for the memorial service, pick out decorations that match that.
We know that's a lot to think about. But we urge you to take your time; be thoughtful, and don't hesitate to explore all the memorial service ideas which arise as part of this experience.
As we've said, we've got the experience which could make planning a memorial service easier for you and your family. Don't hesitate to pick up the phone; call us at 732-449-6900. Let's talk about your loved one's life; share some stories with us. We're confident that, together, we can come up with the perfect memorial service event to suit your needs and expectations.