Preparing a funeral service

Preparing a funeral ceremony can be a challenging thing to do.

However, there are many benefits to tailoring the ceremony to reflect your memories and the life of the person who has passed away.

When a death has occurred it is usual that someone representing the family contact a funeral director. Initially this contact could be from a family member, friend or health care professional. Just allowing significant other family the chance to consider what they may choose for funeral arrangements.
In some cases funerals may be arranged by an executor, social worker or the public trustee. Generally a time and day for a funeral arrangement meeting is decided so that family can meet with the funeral director. This meeting can be in the comfort of someone’s home or in the sanctuary of the funeral home.

The type of service, traditional or contemporary, will often create a frame work within which to work. Certainly, if you have chosen a more traditional service in a church with a minister, pastor or priest there will be guidelines and a structure to follow. This too can vary from church to church and from minister to minister. Your selected clergy will guide you in this process.

In a more contemporary service families can choose to have a celebrant, master of ceremonies or conduct a service themselves. The celebrant or Funeral Director can also guide you with helpful suggestions.

Most families will have a general idea of what they expect and the way the service will flow. Often the choice of burial or cremation will guide the ceremony to some extent.

The service can be very simple or much more detailed. In the first instance it is a good idea to understand what components of the service are available.

Options include music, photos, readings, eulogies and ceremonies.

Preparing for the day

Leading up to the funeral service and in preparation for the day, some families may choose to have a viewing. In the main, viewings are usually conducted in the lead up to the actual ceremony. Sometimes this may be in the days before the ceremony or just prior to it.

A viewing can allow us to acknowledge the reality of the death, to place personal items in the coffin and give us the opportunity to say goodbye. Viewings also give the opportunity to see the person at rest.

Families have the opportunity to provide clothing for the person to be dressed in, as well as their preferred perfume, makeup or aftershave.
Gathering at a viewing also allows family and friends to find support and comfort in each other’s company and allows them to share their love and emotions.

Music, Eulogies & more

Music can be an important part of many special events and the funeral is no different. 

Music can allow us to express a range of emotions, and also to connect with each other and with our loved one. In structuring a funeral ceremony, music can be gentle and quiet or it can be a strong feature of the ceremony itself.

Music can take many forms at the ceremony from the traditional hymn to a contemporary song.

Eulogies and sharing memories are another important feature of the funeral ceremony. Eulogies can be a formal speech covering the person’s life as well as the sharing of a story or memory. These can give other family and friends the opportunity to think upon their memories and to share as well.

Further to the Eulogy and sharing of memories, readings, poems, verses and religious passages can also be used to make the funeral ceremony special and reflective of the person who has died.

Photo Presentations or Power Points are another way that family and friends connect their memories at the ceremony.

When the power point is an integral part of the service, often music is played at the same time. The power point is frequently played after the eulogy. This can be a time their thoughts and emotions.

For a focal display where the service pauses to view the power point, a length of about two songs allowing for 30-50 photos is effective.
Some families with lots of photographs may choose to play their power point presentation continuously throughout the service whilst the ceremony is held.

Often in conjunction with the presentation a photo board collage is prepared. This is often displayed at the entrance to the church or chapel and at the sharing time after the service.

Memorabilia can become part of the funeral ceremony. The placing of special items on the coffin help us to connect with our memories and each other. Family and friends may also have the opportunity to share an action at the ceremony.

Acting as pallbearers, or escorts, lighting a candle, placing a flower on the coffin or performing a guard of honour are all ways that we might be involved in the ceremony. Sharing of meaningful actions give family and friends the opportunity to show their love and support to each other and recognise the impact that the death of a loved one has.

Conclusion of the funeral ceremony

After the funeral ceremony has been concluded many families choose to gather to share further in a time of remembrance expressing their feelings and share a drink or meal.

The opportunity to share your condolences, and reflect on your memories in a more relaxed setting often helps to strengthen relationships and renew acquaintances.