When it comes to planning a funeral ceremony, there are myriad options available. While this is a good thing, too many options can make for some difficult decisions. This is because, of course, you want only the very best to honor your loved one’s memory.
In this article, we’re going to lift the veil on any confusion. We’re going to answer the questions you have regarding funeral ceremonies, and the service options that are available to you. We’ll provide you with some funeral ceremony examples, as well as some tried-and true tips for getting through it all.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
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What is a Funeral Ceremony?
A funeral ceremony is a special event at which family and friends of someone who has died come together to remember their loved one and pay their final respects. A funeral ceremony also known as a funeral service, or simply a funeral.
The ceremony or service is usually held at a funeral parlor or church, and occasionally at home. At a traditional American funeral, the atmosphere is usually somber and religious, and the remains of the deceased are present.
Depending on the family’s wishes, during the service a sermon can be spoken and songs of worship may be sung. Following the ceremony, the deceased may be transported to the cemetery for burial, or taken to the crematory.
Other Types of Ceremonies
Besides traditional funerals, there are several other types of services and events. Here are just a few:
- Graveside service (aka committal service). A graveside service takes place at the cemetery, before the casket is committed to the earth. Family and friends are present to pay their final respects. A graveside service often follows a traditional funeral ceremony, and is generally fairly short.
- Direct cremation/burial. These are affordable options for families who are wanting to inter or cremate their loved one, but are not currently planning a formal funeral. With a direct cremation or burial, there is no funeral ceremony, only cremation interment in a cemetery.
- Memorial service. A memorial service is very similar to a traditional funeral, with the exception being the remains of the deceased are not present. Memorial services are under no obligation of time, and can take place a week, a month, or years after final disposition.
- Celebration of life. Whereas traditional funerals are mostly somber events, the celebration of life is quite the opposite. These events are usually very personalized, and it’s not uncommon for there to be lots of music, dancing and food.
- Scattering ceremony. This special event occurs following a cremation. Family and friends come together to say goodbye to their loved one by releasing their ashes into the wind. Sometimes, the family may keep some of the ashes as well, and place them in an urn for safekeeping.
For more information regarding the various types of funeral events, this article is a massive help..
Funeral ceremonies can be easily personalized to better reflect who the deceased was in life. Let’s take a look below at the many options that are available when it comes to the planning a personalized service.
Funeral Ceremony Options
If it’s a traditional service you are thinking of planning, we’ve already laid out many of the options for you. But you still have several decisions to make.
Your funeral director will ask you to pick a casket for your loved one, if they did not already have one selected through a pre-need arrangement. And there are flowers (lots of flowers!) to browse through.
You may be offered a catering option, for you and your guests to enjoy at a reception following the funeral and interment. You’ll need to choose a cemetery and purchase a plot (unless, again, this has already been taken care of ahead of time). Or you’ll need to pick an urn and also a date for cremation to take place.
Personalize the Funeral Ceremony
But for a more personalized funeral ceremony (even a traditional one), the options are virtually limitless! Many funeral homes today are more than happy to help you customize the service…in fact, many encourage it.
If your great aunt was an avid gardener and loved to spend all her time outside landscaping her yard, why not have her service reflect this? Choose an abundance of her favorite blooms to decorate her casket. Offer guests packets of gardening seeds or other similar favors to take back home with them and plant in her memory. Have a memory table filled with photos of her in happier days, working in her garden. Include the famous poem “God’s Garden” in her eulogy.
Need help writing a quality eulogy for the funeral of your loved one? We can help. Click here for more information.
Maybe your brother has just passed away, but you know that he wouldn’t have wanted a traditional funeral. And you know that embalming is something he doesn’t want. In this case, you have the option of cremation, but keep in mind that embalming is not always necessary if you do not want to go that route.
You may choose to have a direct burial for him, and then at a later date hold a memorial service or celebration of life. Natural burial is gaining traction in many regions; you could opt for a beautiful outdoor ceremony for your brother, sans embalming and even funeral director. You could choose a biodegradable casket for him, or simply wrap him in a shroud. His funeral ceremony would be just as precious as any other. Family and friends would remember him sweetly, and loved ones would surround him as he goes back into the earth.
There are so many other funeral options available. The beauty of realizing that you are in charge helps you recognize that you have so many options to consider.
Funeral Ceremony Examples
Planning for a funeral is a lot of work, even with the help of a funeral director. Sometimes, it can help to have a few examples to look at for reference. So, besides the ones mentioned above, here are a few more ideas for you to think about.
Example 1: LEGO for Littles
Your nephew was only four when he passed away. He absolutely loved LEGO! The colorful bricks adorned his bedroom, and even his last birthday party had been LEGO-themed. Make sure you let the funeral director know this!
The funeral director may have a few tricks up their sleeve to make the funeral ceremony less of a sad event and more of a celebration of life. Perhaps you’ll hear, “Did you know, there is a company I know of that creates LEGO-themed caskets especially for children?” Or maybe, “Why not incorporate a brick-building activity center for any kids that come to the funeral? That may help to keep their spirits lifted throughout the day.” Also, “We can have LEGO-themed service programs special ordered just for your nephew.”
As you can see, there are many appropriate and heartwarming options to personalize the service in a special way.
Example 2: Mama’s Sugar
Your mother’s little lap dog, Sugar, was her pride and joy! Sugar went with your mother everywhere, to the grocery store, to the park, and even joined her in the hospital when the end was near. So why not ensure that Sugar has a place of honor at the funeral ceremony of her master?
Ask the funeral director about letting Sugar attend and join the other attendees in saying her final goodbyes. Include photos of your mom with her pup in the slideshow. Print the funeral programs with a canine theme. Bake paw-shaped sugar cookies for the reception. You’ll find many ways to honor this aspect of your mother at the ceremony!
Example 3: The Biker
Your cousin was a motorcycle enthusiast. He had a passion for Harley-Davidson’s and his own Road King was his pride and joy.
Consider asking the funeral director to display your cousin’s bike next to the casket at the service. You can find motorcycle-themed cremation urns and other items that are ideal for display at the funeral ceremony.
Example 4: The Singing Schoolteacher
Before she passed, your best friend from high school was working as a teacher herself at the very same high school you both attended. This fulfilled her lifelong dream of working at her alma mater while serving the community.
You think it’s a great idea to keep her life’s passion alive by decorating the funeral home with the school’s memorabilia. She also sang wonderfully, and worked with the school’s choir department. So ask the funeral director to play some recordings of her singing during the service.
Example 5: Grandma’s Quilt
Grandma loved to quilt. Have some of her projects out on display throughout the funeral home. Invite attendees to bring a special scrap of fabric and make it into a memorial quilt. Or, alternatively, give out some of Grandma’s scraps (I’m sure she has many!) as a memorial token for each person to take home.
Example 6: The Fisherman
Grandpa’s favorite pastime was fishing. Have his casket spray incorporate his fishing rod and tackle box. Get a “Gone Fishing” cremation urn (or other fishing-themed urns) and display photos of his best catches nearby.
Funeral Ceremony Tips
Besides all of the hard and difficult work that goes into it, planning a funeral can be downright confusing. It seems that there is a never-ending checklist of things to do. The funeral director is going to ask a ton of questions, from whether or not your loved one had a pre-need to which cemetery you are planning on having interment at.
It’s a lot to take in in such a short amount of time, so we’ve compiled a short list of helpful tips to help you get through it all.
- Utilize the services of the funeral director! It’s their job to be there, to answer your questions and to help you with all of the details.
- Ask for third-party help outside of the funeral home. It’s a good idea to have a fresh set of eyes or ears to help you get everything just right. For example, did you know that most funeral homes do not offer to help with the eulogy? We can help with that.
- Get an idea of what to expect cost-wise. Did your loved one have life insurance? Was their funeral already pre-paid? Are payment arrangements an option?
- Ask for help from a celebrant. Much like a wedding planner coordinates all the details of a wedding, a funeral director does much of the same for the funeral. But a celebrant could add a personal touch to your loved one’s service, from helping you decide on the day’s order of events to singing or speaking the eulogy.
- Take time to take care of yourself. It’s probably the very last thing on your mind. You are in the midst of grief, and are also trying to plan the perfect ceremony for your loved one. But how can you do the best job you can without rest and fuel for the days ahead? Make sure that you are getting enough to eat in the days leading up to the funeral, and also getting enough sleep. Here are 44 tips for self-care while grieving.
- Write everything down. Each time a question pops in your head, and you think, “Oh, I need to ask the director about this,” write it down in a notebook. Because with everything else going on, you are sure to forget about it otherwise. Keep your notebook with you at all times, and the next time you talk with the director, you’ll have your questions ready to go.
We hope that the information provided above helped to shed some light on funeral ceremonies and the many options that come with planning them. Let us know what you think in a comment below, and feel free to share any of your own examples or tips as well.