A funeral service, also called a memorial service, is a wonderful way to honor and celebrate the life of a loved one who passed.
This guide is designed to walk you through funeral services, including funeral arrangements, same day preparations, funeral procession, funeral ceremonies, committal services, and everything that follows.
Arrangements Before the Funeral
Arranging a funeral can be an extremely emotional, and sometimes frustrating task. Through this blog and others we have written, our goal is to help you through the process in every way possible.
Whoever you choose to help with the funeral arrangements (this can include a funeral director, celebrant, friend or relative), it is important that they pay attention to your thoughts, needs, and wishes and help you and your family choose the best tribute for the deceased so that you can honor them in a fitting way.
There are no right or wrong ways to have a funeral for a loved one. Many people still prefer the traditional funeral service in a church or graveside, however, many others prefer a non-traditional service. This can include holding a ceremony outside at a loved one’s favorite spot, gathering family and friends and attending a favorite sporting event or other activity that their loved one enjoyed, or simply having family and friends over for a meal and sharing stories and reflecting on the loved one who passed.
Many funeral homes are equipped with serene and private chapels for you to spend some tranquil last moments with your dear deceased one and say a final goodbye. These chapels can be personalized with the memories of your loved one and the service can be arranged on a date and time of your choice.
Whether your loved one is buried or cremated, you can still arrange a visitation or viewing. This can be done before the funeral, or the body can be viewed at the funeral. Before the casket or urn is transferred, make sure the funeral arranger has prepared your loved one just as you wish to see them.
Once you are satisfied with the pre-arrangements, you can meet the funeral director (or other person who is helping you with the arrangements) who will help conduct the service. Be sure that you are both on the same page about the final details. There are many important factors to consider, including deciding on the time of the service and venue details along with the list of all the expected guests and who will speak.
If you choose to have a funeral procession, this typically begins at the house of the deceased or the funeral home, even though you might schedule it at a different place. The funeral director will oversee all the arrangements.
Make sure to have all friends and family who will be traveling along or those who wish to accompany the funeral procession arrive at the designated place for procession a few minutes early. This ensures the timely start of the procession and arrival of all the guests at the funeral service.
You can request for a special route to be followed for the procession. This can be the route with some treasured memories or favorite spots of the deceased.
Arriving at the Funeral Service
It is important that your funeral arranger takes care of all of the details, ranging from any music you wish to have played, flowers or other arrangements you prefer to be present, photos and other memories of your loved one, and also coordinates with the speakers who will talk at the service.
If the body of your loved one is going to be present, the funeral director can help arrange pallbearers to escort the coffin with respect and caution. If you wish to have family or friends do the honors, the funeral director will supervise the arrangements to ensure everything is well in place.
If the urn holding a loved one’s cremated remains is to be present, your funeral director will typically be responsible for having this there and presented in a dignified way.
The Funeral Ceremony
The funeral ceremony can be scheduled just as you like. However, bear in mind that there may be some time limits at the chosen venue which must be followed. You can include poems, rhymes, hymns, or music to the ceremony. Prayers and readings from family and close friends also help personalize the event.
The funeral ceremony can be held at many different locations – your local church, a chapel, at a special place outside, at home, or even at the crematorium. The funeral director may choose to stand at the back of service continues. Once the service is done you are commonly escorted to the committal service, if you choose to have one.
Whether you choose to have your loved one buried or cremated, you may want his final rituals to be followed by a committal service. You can have it scheduled at the same place as that of the funeral service.
In case you designate a different location for the committal service, the funeral director will help bring you and your family, and the respectful casket or urn with your loved one’s body or ashes to the spot.
· How does cremation proceed?
At a cremation, you may want to have the funeral service at a religious venue followed by a short committal service at the crematorium. Both of the services can take place at the crematorium, too, though. During the committal, the curtains are closed and the coffin is taken down the catafalque for cremation.
· How does a burial proceed?
At a burial, the committal service is typically held at the graveside of the deceased and is often followed by prayers and religious readings. Once you are ready to bid the final farewell to your loved one, the coffin is lowered into the ground and is covered with soil. Scattering of flowers, prayers, and well wishes would follow the burial.
When the committal service is completed, you have enough time to pay respects, say a few words of remembrance, and place floral tributes next to the crematorium's memorial garden or the grave of your loved one. Many people also use this time to interact with the guests and share stories and reflect on their loved one.
The Wake Ceremony
After the funeral and committal formalities are concluded, you may wish to have a funeral or wake reception. Wake ceremonies celebrate the life of the departed and is typically not as formal as the preceding funeral rituals.
Your funeral arranger can help you choose the venue to hold the wake reception from a list of popular reception venues. This is also commonly done at a family member’s home. We recommend including the address, directions and other details concerning the wake on the information shared with guests.
Following a Funeral
Most funeral directors will follow up within a few days after the services conclude to make sure everything went out smoothly and was just the way you wanted it to be.
If you chose to have your loved one cremated, there would also be a time scheduled to facilitate the collection of the ashes. From there, you can have a memorial that suits you and your family. With the increase in cremation there are many unique options available to honor your loved one. This includes using a tree pod burial, doing a scattering (or hiring a scattering service), ordering a decorative glass piece that incorporates the ashes, among many other options.