Guidance for arranging a funeral ceremony
First, please accept my condolences. I appreciate this must be a difficult time for you. As a grief specialist, I will be at hand to help and support you and to listen.
Some people feel overwhelmed by the prospect of organising a funeral ceremony but try not to worry about it; my job is to help you do that. I will guide you stage by stage through the whole process. At the end of our first meeting, I promise you things will begin to feel a little more straightforward.
But to help you think about the ceremony before we meet up, I urge you to spend a little time reading through the notes below. They will help you think about how you might wish to celebrate the life of the person who has died.
If you are going to ask me to prepare a eulogy on the family’s behalf, I will need to know the following details about the person who has died:
- Early Years – When they were born, their parents’ names, where they were born, raised, and educated. Short stories they may have shared with you about their youth.
- Relationships – Names of the family and their relationship with the person who has died. Were they married or cohabiting? How did the couple meet? If married, where and when? How would you describe your relationship with them?
- Career, hobbies and interests – What did they do for a living, and how did they relax? What captivated them, and what can you tell me about their hopes and dreams?
- Special stories and memories – Think of three short stories that tell me about who they were and what made them so endearing, or maybe not so as the case may be.
- Personality and character – Ask family and friends to think of a couple of words that describe who they were and be ready to share those words with me.
- The good and the not so good – The ceremony works better if it is authentic. So, how would you describe the strengths and weaknesses of the person who has died? What did they like, and what did they dislike?
Ritual & Religion
Contrary to popular belief, funerals do not have to be religious or spiritual. We do not have to sing hymns or recite prayers, but I will be delighted to include these elements within the ceremony if it feels appropriate for you to do so. I usually light a memorial candle at the start of the ceremony, which provides a focus, do let me know if this does not feel relevant. You may wish to place flowers or rosemary (a symbol of memories) around the coffin and have photographs and memorabilia on display during the ceremony too. All of this may be discussed when I meet you.
Music, Poetry & Photographs
When it comes to funeral ceremonies, music and poetry play a pivotal role. They can be an integral part of celebrating the life of someone we love. They can arouse memories and emotions and can be very comforting.
The ceremony will be time-critical, but it will be essential to have a least two music pieces and a maximum of four and perhaps a couple of poems or readings too, even if this will be a graveside ceremony. If you are struggling to choose music or prose, then the following links will provide you with some ideas.
When we lose important people in our lives, our photographs can bring back memories and help us remember everything that made them special and unique. They help us keep that person alive. If you wish, I can create a memorable photographic eulogy of their life using photographs, videos, and music – this is something I will present during the ceremony and send on to you afterwards as a keepsake.