How You Can Help a Grieving Person Make Funeral or Memorial Service Arrangements

While the grieving family will likely be making the bulk of the funeral or memorial service arrangements, there are some preparations that fall more into the category of “event planning” that you may be able to help with.

Flowers

If the family would like flowers to be present at the funeral or memorial service, you can offer to purchase or arrange flowers for them. If the family has received flowers as condolence gifts and would like to bring those flowers to the funeral or memorial service, you can be responsible for the transportation of the flowers from the family home to the service location, and then for removing the flowers from the service location and bringing them back to the family home, donating them to a local hospital, or making other arrangements.

To purchase flowers online, use our resource Guide: Purchasing Flowers.

Music, videos, and photo slideshows

More and more, people are incorporating music, videos, and photo slideshows into funerals and memorial services. If you are handy with a computer, you might offer to create the photo slideshow for or with the family, and coordinate with the venue to make sure that the presentation you’re preparing will play seamlessly at the service.

Print programs

It is common for families to provide printed programs at funeral or memorial services, acknowledging participants and identifying readings, prayers, and other features of the service. In some cases the funeral home that the family is working with may be printing programs for the family; in other cases, the family may not remember that programs are something they wanted at the service. You might offer to design the programs for or with the family, coordinate the printing of the programs, and make sure that the programs are properly distributed at the service.

Guestbook

Traditionally, there is a guestbook at the service location that all guests attending the service sign, which provides the family with a record of all those who attended the funeral. Depending on the size of the service, there may be multiple guestbooks. You might offer to purchase the guestbooks and pens, arrange them at the service location, encourage guests to sign them, and collect them after the service.

Notify friends and family of the death/invite people to the funeral

Traditionally, the news of a death and the details of the funeral or memorial service are delivered to friends, colleagues, and acquaintances by word of mouth. Usually, a handful of key people from various groups will be asked to spread the news and the details of the service by phone calls or emails. These key people usually include a family member (to inform extended family), a work colleague (to inform co-workers), a number of friends from different social groups (to inform the friends in those social groups), someone from a church or temple if the person who died was or the bereaved is religious, and someone from any organizations that the person who died belonged to. If you fit into one of these categories, you might offer to make phone calls on behalf of the bereaved.

To inform people of a death, use our resource Funeral Update.

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