How to personalize your funeral or memorial service
Virtually every element of your funeral or memorial service can personalized as much as you like, though you don't need to personalize every possible element in order to have the service be special. When planning the details of your service, think about the way you’d like the service to look, flow, and feel. Many people want their funerals to be celebrations of life rather than sad affairs, and to that end decide to have uplifting music and songs, colorful flowers, and inspirational readings. Other people want their funerals to highlight certain personal interests and achievements, and so ask eulogists to speak on specific topics or choose readings that focus on personal philosophies.
There are many personal elements of your funeral or memorial service that you can plan yourself, with the help of family and friends. You can also work with a funeral home to create the type of event that feels most special to you.
Elements of your funeral or memorial service that you can plan in advance
Many elements of a funeral or memorial service can be planned in advance. Some of the things you make decisions about in advance include:
- Having a viewing, visitation, or wake before your service
- The type of service (funeral service, graveside service, or memorial service)
- The service location
- Who you’d like to officiate your service
- Who you’d like to serve as pallbearers
- People to deliver eulogies and other speeches
- Readings, prayers, or poems for people to read
- Music, hymns, or songs
- The type of flowers or decorations you’d like to have
- Having a post-service reception or gathering, and planning that event
- The guest list for your service
- If you want guests to donate to a charity in your name, and coordinating with the charity or setting up a foundation
If you will be following any religious or cultural traditions, many core aspects of your service may be dictated by your customs. To learn more about the traditions and customs of a particular religion, see our articles on Religious Funeral Traditions or speak with your local religious leader.
Communicating with your family
One of the benefits of planning your service ahead of time is the relief that pre-planning can bring to your family. By planning some or all of the features of the service, or even by simply talking with your family about the kind of service you'd like to have, you can help take some of the pressure off of those who would otherwise have to plan the service during a difficult emotional time—and you can provide them with the information they need in order to honor and remember you in the ways you want.