It’s no secret that organising a funeral can be difficult. Between the planning, the funeral costs and the grief, when it’s time to plan a funeral for a loved one, it can be so many things – exhausting, confusing, overwhelming – you name it. However, one thing’s for sure – you don’t have to stick to the traditional funeral structure or organise a service that you think should look or play out a certain way.
Ultimately, families have a big say in planning a funeral, so they can decide exactly how they’d like to say farewell. Whilst a person may specify funeral instructions in their Will, these aren’t binding. Having said that, you’d likely still want to take their wishes into consideration. With all this in mind, if you and your family would like to personalise a loved one’s funeral service, here are some ways you can do so:
Consider religious or spiritual practices
Like people and our personalities – many different kinds of funerals exist. While some services may adhere to similar practices or traditions, your loved one was an individual who left a unique mark on those who knew them. If they were religious or spiritual, consider tailoring a funeral service that includes some of these particular customs. (Of course, you don’t have to adhere to them all).
If this sounds right for you, consider speaking to a religious leader or a spiritual figure who can lead the service (or advise you on what prayers or songs to sing, for example).
Incorporate music, photography or a short film
If your loved one was a music lover, consider playing their favourite song, or having live music accompany the service on the day. Another idea is to print photographs of them with friends and family or compile some videos that tell a story about their life.
We’ve compiled Spotify playlists of classic funeral songs, soft rock & country funeral songs, and funeral songs to celebrate life. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, these playlists might provide some inspiration.
Embed humour into the speeches
A great way to reflect on someone’s life is to talk about the happy and fun moments shared with them, and even their sense of humour. Of course, this is not always appropriate, but many do find that speaking of their loved one and reminiscing about fonder memories in their eulogy is particularly cathartic. It also allows guests to learn something new about the person who has passed away.
Ask the guests to bring something
You might like to ask the guests to bring something that that reminds them of a memory shared with your loved one. Each person can then place the item on the coffin as they say their final farewell. The items could spark conversation among the guests and allow them to learn about all the facets of your loved one's life and personality.
Set a dress code
In some religions and cultures, it is customary to wear black or dark colours to a funeral. However, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule for every funeral. In particular, in a celebration of life service, families often ask guests to wear a shade of their loved one’s favourite colour, or bright colours as a symbol of celebration.
Alternatively, if your loved one was part of a sports club or an association, you can ask their team members or colleagues to wear their uniforms or a particular item of clothing to commemorate your loved one and pay tribute to their interests.
Something for guests to take home
It might be nice for guests to leave the ceremony or service with an item they can place on the mantelpiece or on their desk, to remember the person they knew and loved. This could be a photo, a funeral booklet or even a recipe they loved that you wish to live on for years to come, at many happy family dinners. It’s completely up to you.
Hopefully, these aforementioned tips will help you plan a funeral service that feels right for your loved one and your family. Ultimately, remember that you have the freedom to tailor the service and incorporate any aspects you see fit. When in doubt, speak to a funeral director, a religious or spiritual leader and your family or friends. Remember that you are never alone, and help is always just a phone call away.
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