A meaningful funeral celebration is about saying hello on the pathway to goodbye.

- Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt
Ph.D. Director, Centre for Loss and Life Transition

The funeral, while serving to help you acknowledge your loss, also serves as an opportunity to recognise and honour those characteristics which made your loved one special.

Meaningful funerals are made of various elements including:

What Can A Modern Funeral Do For You

Today’s funerals give you have the opportunity to remember your loved one’s hobbies, interests, or certain qualities, which made them like no other person.

If you have attended a funeral recently, you may have seen:

  • A collage of photographs
  • A memorial video tribute
  • Personal items of the deceased on display
  • Special mementos
  • Storytelling from close friends or family
  • Special life tribute ceremonies
  • Balloon releases or any other number of unique tributes

All of this is done to help make the funeral more personal and meaningful to the family and friends attending.

To help you begin the process of planning your unique tribute, think of your answers to the following questions:

  • What could your loved one do better than anyone else?
  • When you think of your loved one, what do you think of?
  • What were your loved one’s hobbies or special interests?
  • What were some of your fondest memories of your loved one?
  • What was your loved one passionate about?
  • What was your loved one’s faith or spiritual belief?

The answers to these or similar questions will help you pinpoint those qualities and activities that are most identifiable with your loved one.

Your funeral director can help guide you in this process or share ideas and make recommendations to help you plan a special and fitting tribute.

Your Unique Funeral – As Simple Or Elaborate As You Need

A memorable life tribute event should be as unique as the life your loved one lived. It can be as elaborate or simple as your family wishes. As you reflect about your loved one, think about their personality, what made him or her special and the memories you will cherish forever.

Personalising Your Funeral

When discussing elements of personalisation for your loved one’s tribute, think in terms of capturing the essence of their life.

Through music, ritual, storytelling, vignettes and refreshments, you are able to share the person’s life story in very meaningful ways.

The funeral home you select is committed to providing an event as unique as your loved one’s life.

An Unusual Funeral Might Be For You

It is not uncommon for families to say they prefer a party over a funeral or wish to have their event unlike any other funeral they have attended in the past.

Your funeral director will explore simple to more elaborate choices for personalisation.

Make Your Funeral Meaningful

Meaningful Displays – Was dad a lawn bowler? A display of his bowling gear and trophies will honour his love of the sport.

Distinctive Scents — If mum loved to bake, have some freshly baked scones at the service. The aroma will bring back fond memories for many in attendance.

Unique Keepsakes — If your loved one was the family photographer, create a keepsake (ornament or other small token) featuring his or her favourite photo.

Special Participation — Did your sister sing in the local choir? Invite the choir to sing one of her favourite songs at the service.

Food/Beverage — Did your brother love going to the footy? Serve footy-inspired snacks and refreshments during or after the service.

Live Music — Did grandpa play in a band in his younger years? Honour that with live music after the service.

Customised Menu — Did Uncle Tom love to cook? Ask the caterer to prepare some of his favourite foods for the lunch.

Floral Arrangements — If grandma loved to garden, feature floral arrangements of flowers she loved.

Photography — Guests enjoy seeing photos that reflect the individual’s life and the other people who were important to them throughout all stages of life. Photos can be gathered and taped to poster boards, which are then displayed on easels, or create a digital display of photos that can be displayed on a monitor throughout the service.

Transportation — If grandpa was an antique car enthusiast, consider renting an old car to escort the hearse to the cemetery.

Eulogy Writing — Personal tributes during a service can be exceptionally moving and give attendees insight into the individual’s life.

Orders Of Service — A Nice Keepsake Too

If you are having a formal service, a service program is nice to provide to your guests.

The program can feature the order of service, printed song lyrics to be sung during the service, a short biography of your loved one and some of his or her favourite quotes.

Following the service, the program can be a meaningful keepsake for your guests.

Memorial Cards

Some families also create memorial cards to make available to guests.

Memorial cards feature the name of the individual and his or her dates of birth and death.

The card often also features a favourite passage or quote.

Your funeral director can help you make selections for these and other printed materials to use at the service.

Donations To Favourite Charities

While in the past it was common for people to send flowers to a funeral, increasingly, families are requesting donations be made to an organisation that had special meaning to their loved one or the family.

For example, if a person died of cancer, the family may request donations be made to a cancer research organisation.

Or if a loved one volunteered at the local animal shelter, donations may be requested for that organisation.

Many organisations will have donation envelopes and will provide you with a supply to make available at the service.

Discuss this option with your funeral director.

The Reception — A Time For Family & Friends

Time for mingling after the funeral provides family and other loved ones with a transition from what can be a somewhat surreal experience of a funeral back into the ‘real world’.

Often, food and refreshments will be served after the funeral.

This gives guests the opportunity to enjoy refreshments while continuing to reflect on the life of the deceased and offer support to the family and other loved ones.

Keepsakes and Mementos

There are many keepsakes available that help you create a lasting memento of your loved one, from jewellery to special boxes.

If you are interested in learning more, your funeral director can tell you about the various options.

Unique Funeral Locations

In selecting a venue for your loved one’s service, you have a unique opportunity to choose a site that reflects the individual’s spiritual beliefs, favourite hobbies, or interests.

Reflect on where your loved one enjoyed spending time and consider having the service at a favourite restaurant, botanical garden, park, or art gallery.

If your loved one was a member of a church and sang in the choir, a church, with the choir singing a tribute, would be a wonderful setting.

If he or she loved the outdoors, a local park would be a nice option.

Keep in mind that your funeral director can help you transform a smaller viewing room at the funeral home to create an event that beautifully pays tribute to your loved one and showcases his or her interests and hobbies.

Ultimately, it is important to choose a site that you feel will offer a comfortable setting in which to welcome guests and help them begin the grieving process.
Your funeral director can assist you in arranging specific details with venue coordinators.

You will be asked about details such as seating, technology needs and catering options.

It is possible your funeral director already partners with some local venues exclusively in providing memorable life tribute events.

Your funeral director will help you arrange all the details.

For More Information On Creating Your Meaningful Funeral

Leading author, educator, and grief counsellor, Dr. Alan Wolfelt, has written a helpful book for families called Creating Meaningful Funeral Ceremonies – A Guide For Families

Source: rememberingalife.com

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