How to Plan a Memorial Service
It's really a process of asking–and answering–questions. We recommend you read our "What is a Funeral?" page to get some general ideas and then sit down with other family members, at least once, but maybe even more than once; to explore how to plan a memorial service which arise from answering these questions:
1. Who will be invited?
The number of guests define the where, when, and how of your memorial service. Write down the names of everyone you think would want to be there and then set it aside. You can add new names to the list as you go along.
2. Where, and when, should the event take place?
Here's where your imagination is tempered by any scheduling or travel-related issues facing those who will be invited. Be sure to check in with out-of-town relatives and friends about their situation before settling on these critical details.
3. Who will orchestrate or conduct 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.
4. Who wishes to speak at the event?
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.
5. What group activities would be appropriate?
We've heard some exciting memorial serivce planning ideas over the years. This question involves thinking about what your loved one liked most about their life and gives everyone a remarkable space to share memories, laugh, and even cry together.
6. What food or beverages should 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.
7. What readings and music should you include?
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.
8. What details of your loved one's life do you want to share with guests?
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.
9. What decorations will you have?
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.
Let Us Help with the Memorial Service Planning
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 checklist ideas which arise as part of this experience.
As we've said, we've got the experience which could make memorial service planning easier for you and your family. Don't hesitate to pick up the phone; call us at 718-232-8844. 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.