Funeral & Memorial Services
Leading the Service
Obviously, clergy are likely to be
involved with any service in a church,
temple, synagogue, or mosque, the
program determined by religious
practice and protocol. You can certainly
ask clergy to participate in a service held
elsewhere, too. But even religious
services are being adapted to allow
participation from attendees, with
people invited to share their memories
and thoughts after the initial service,
making the occasion more memorable.
As for others who might lead or facilitate a service, the personalities of the people
involved may dictate the best choice. A spouse who is shy about public speaking
would likely defer to an adult son or daughter who is at ease leading the local civic
organization or youth group. Maybe a best friend or sibling could be asked to
preside. If several will participate, it's a good idea for one of them to be designated
with the coordinator's role, to avoid awkward hesitations as to who should do what
It is always nice to find a role for children to play if the deceased was a special
person in their lives. Handing out flowers or programs can be managed by even
young children or grandchildren. Some may wish to draw pictures for a memory
Planning a Funeral or Memorial Service
A "funeral" service is with the body present and is usually planned within a few
days of death, sometimes in great haste.
A "memorial" service (without the body) can be delayed as long as you want, to
meet the convenience or needs of the family. Scheduling the event in two or three
weeks lets out of town guests more time to make arrangements for attendance. By
not feeling pressured to have a service right away, there is time for thoughtful
Multiple services may be appropriate in some situations. A simple graveside
service for the immediate family at the cemetery followed by a public memorial
service for community and friends.
(See: U.S. Traditions)
Many funeral services may be dictated by one's religion. If the deceased belongs
to a church, you will need to contact the church for possible recommendations
regarding their specific practices and availability to perform a funeral service or
memorial service. A memorial mass is even now acceptable to the Catholic church.
(See: Religious Traditions)
Things to consider or pre-plan according to your preferences, and needs
*Location of Service(s)
*Officiant, or clergy to lead the services
*Gathering Information for obituary
*Picture, or pictures of deceased, along with any religious or fraternity items to be
*Private or Public Ceremonies, family viewing vs visitation.
*Special Acknowledgement of Family Members
*Readings for the Service, and who will be reading them.
*Special Requests or Prayers
*Transportation for immediate family, clergy, pallbearers, and funeral coach.
*Memorial register, along with a folder to hold information, and acknowledgement
Cards while not mandatory, it is hard to remember everyone who was there and
the kindnesses they may have offered that a thank you note is appropriate.
Where any memorials should be sent.
Perhaps the deceased was involved with a civic organization, or had hospice care
near the end of their life and would like to give back something to those who
shared values, enriched their lives, or eased their burden near the end.
Choice of Closed or Open Casket
Circumstances of death
Car accidents etc.
Preferences of burial clothing
Jewelry, and will jewelry remain or be returned to family
Special Items, may be decided ahead of time, (such as flower or rosary) but
usually left by loved ones according to their most treasured memories.
Things that CANNOT be preplanned:
Ambulance transfer from place of death
Application of death certificate
Application for burial permit (if needed)
Setting a time and date for service
Request preparation and embalming
Complete composition or submission of obituary
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