When planning a service, it’s helpful to think of the unique qualities your loved one shared to create a service that honors his/her life. A personalized funeral will be memorable for friends and family and provide a feeling of closure knowing that the life of your loved one has been truly celebrated.
When searching for ways to personalize a funeral service, remember the moments you spent with the person and try to highlight the qualities that she or he are remembered for. Consider hobbies, subjects of interest and places where the person spent much of his or her time. It can help to make lists of their passions, achievements and memories you shared together. There are a number of ways that these lists can be incorporated into a service:
Photos and albums – There are many opportunities to display photos at a funeral service. Poster boards with photo collages can be placed on easels for display. Flat screen TV monitors can be used to display pictures or a slideshow during calling hours or just prior to the services. Photographs can be printed in the memorial folders, registry book or on urns.
Videos – A DVD video is a wonderful way to share your loved one’s life with others. It can be personalized with your special photos and music. These videos become keepsakes that you can share with your family for generations.
Artwork – Artwork of the deceased or art created in tribute is a beautiful addition to a service. Sculptures, a slideshow of drawings or displaying artwork throughout the funeral home helps people learn more about a life that was cherished.
Music – Live or pre-recorded music can be relaxing and comforting to those who have come to the service. Some other ways music can be used, is to record a CD with the deceased’s favorite songs or songs that he or she wrote or to have musically inclined family or friends perform at the funeral service.
Readings of poetry and literature – Passages from the deceased’s favorite books or poems that capture the essence of life help create a service infused with wisdom and words to remember. You can also invite friends and family members to read passages or poems of their choice or write their own pieces to share.
Clothing worn by the deceased – A simple way to make a service more personal is by dressing the deceased in clothes that were significant to their life. For example, if the deceased was passionate about their work, their work uniform would complement the service. Another example would be if they were passionate about a sport, he or she could be dressed in their own jersey or the jersey of their favorite player.
Memory readings/book – A classic way to remember the deceased is to ask friends and families to share memories. Attendees can write them down in a collective book or on notecards to be collected. Friends and family can read their memories aloud as a part of the service.
Bagpipes – Bagpipe music has roots in traditional Irish and Scottish funerals, but gradually became a tradition for firefighters and police officers. These days, bagpipes are commonly integrated into a service, playing tunes such as “Amazing Grace” and “Danny Boy”. They add a solemn, moving touch that is loved by many.
Distribute keepsakes – Distribute keepsake items to friends and families that honor the deceased in a special way. Possibilities include prayer cards, candles, and ornaments.
Display of personal items – A common method for placing focus on the unique qualities of the deceased is to set up a display of their most cherished possessions. Items that were part of a collection, creative expressions or any items that provide some physical reminder of his or her personality are a great way to try to tell their story.
Meaningful floral arrangements – Choose the deceased’s favorite flowers or flowers that have a special meaning. For example, dahlias signify elegance and dignity.
Celebration of cherished personality traits – If the deceased was known for a particular personality trait, find a way to incorporate it into the service. For example, have friends and family take a moment to hug each other in honor of an affectionate person.
Customized caskets – Many caskets come in different colors and have a choice of interior cap panels. Some examples are: Going Home, In God’s Care, 23rd Psalm, Mom, Dad, Deer, Barn, Flowers and Praying Hands to mention a few. The hardware around the casket can display flags, eagles, Mom, Praying hands, Lords Supper, Violets, Roses, Angels and many more designs that will suggest ones’ favorite interests.
Engravings – Urns can be engraved with photos of your loved one, pets, motorcycles, race cars, sports team logos, golfers, hunters, religious emblems or your customized engraving. Jewelry, such as Thumbies, which are made by taking a thumb print of your loved one and transferring it onto a necklace, can be engraved with a name and dates of birth and death. Some caskets can be engraved on their lids. Cemetery memorials can have name, dates of birth and death along with veteran’s information or a photo or picture scene all engraved on the front of them.
Plant a memorial tree or other type of plant – Planting a tree, shrub or flowers in honor of the deceased is a lovely way to symbolize the circle of life.