Elements of a funeral service
The funeral ceremony is important for family and friends to share their sorrow and is an opportunity to celebrate the life of the person who has passed – to remember the good times, the humorous moments, their favourite music, their unique contributions, and to hear tributes and stories. It is good for children to be involved too, if they have been part of the deceased’s life.
How the casket is transported during the service, who will carry it and whether you want special music, dancing or a guard of honour.
Things that carry meaning and demonstrate what was important to the person who has passed, such as flowers from their garden, books and poems, candles, photographs, videos or a religious book.
This can be sacred, traditional or modern, and can be recorded or live (we can arrange for musicians such a piper to play). Music may be played before, during and after the service. If the casket is being carried in or out of the service then you may wish to select particularly meaningly music for this. You can choose hymns or other traditional songs to sing together during the service or opt for instrumental tracks.
Many people like to have a photo slideshow played during the service. We can prepare this for you, using photos and a music track supplied by you. If someone in your family, perhaps a younger person, wants to create the photo memories slideshow we can take care of the technical side of playing it during the service. This can be a particularly effective way for people to remember the deceased and sit with their memories.
Funerals within a religious tradition
If the funeral is taking place in a place of worship there will be certain elements of the service that need to be included. Your religious leader can advise which parts of the service are required and which can be tailored.
Writing a eulogy
A eulogy is a time where we can talk about our loved one and remember who they were. It is a summary which covers important or interesting aspects of the deceased’s life. It is impossible to sum up a life story in a few minutes but we can tell stories and recall memories in valuable and creative ways.
Here are some elements you may wish to cover:
- Birthplace and short details of early childhood
- Educational and sporting achievements, military service
- Marriage and family life
- Hobbies, club memberships, charity involvement
- Preferences in music, literature, theatre, etc
- Characteristic words and sayings
- Personal qualities (perhaps illustrated by stories)
You might like to include important milestones like births and marriages, significant moves and changes of career. At other times, a story or a little historical background may be appropriate. The formative years of the deceased’s life, including their childhood and schooling, may also be covered and they may have had a particular spiritual outlook or a favourite book or poem which can be included.
The eulogy should act as a springboard for others to call to mind their own special memories. Talk about your feelings for this special
person – tell some stories about your experiences with them. Anecdotes are a special way to celebrate life and help people connect with their own memories. There is no reason to avoid the things that were funny or even a little irreverent!
Many immediate family members may understandably feel unable to speak publicly themselves, yet have important things to say. Check with them and if they want to offer a few words or a precious memory, include these in your eulogy.
People often ask how long a eulogy should be. Really it should be as long or as short as you wish but normally 10 minutes – a couple of typed A4 pages – is appropriate.
Many families like to display some photographs or other life symbols at the funeral service. Photographs need not be recent, provided they are characteristic of a person’s life. Sometimes a family photo or other group shot can be just the thing to capture someone’s personality.
Other items, like a favourite hat, prized trophy, book or golf club, can all help symbolise a life. Sometimes, family members like to place these symbolic items on or near the casket before or after the eulogy.