Making a Memorial Service Memorable

Making a Memorial Service Memorable

Posted by Lisa Brookfield on May 27, 2016

Plan a memorial service as unique as your loved one. 

A memorial service -- sometimes called a life celebration -- is one of the final things you will do for a loved one. It is an honor to be involved in paying tribute to a person's life. With some thought, a memorial service can and should be as unique as the person being honored and can give great comfort as family and friends gather and participate in the event. 
A memorial service may be held at any time convenient for the family. A memorial service can be held after or instead of a funeral. You may wish to plan the service for just a few days after death, on a date with personal meaning (her birthday or upcoming holiday), or simply at a time when all the family can gather. A memorial service is different from a funeral in that a memorial service typically does not have the deceased person's body present (in a casket). 
Today's memorial services often are less formal gatherings to tell the story of a beloved family member. At a memorial service, family and friends are often invited to share memories by contributing to a display or telling a favorite story. With some structure and planning, a memorial service provides support and healing while creating the space to celebrate a loved oneís life and memory in a one-of-a-kind way. The opportunities to personalize a memorial service are limitless. The first step is to design the service. There are some details that will help you structure a memorial service and then you can think about how you want to make the day extra meaningful and reflective of the person being remembered. 
Memorial Service Basics
Choose a venue for the memorial service. Event spaces range from a family home to an outdoor park or gardens to a funeral home or church. Any place that is available to rent for an event is suitable for a memorial service. If you wish to serve food and drink, remember to check on things like catering and alcohol restrictions. Some venues donít allow outside catering, and you will be required to use their staff and menu.

Arrange catering. Food choices can be an opportunity to personalize the service by choosing his or her favorite foods.

Add color and beauty with floral arrangements. Typically you will receive memorial flowers that can be set around for the service. Do you want to add flowers -- perhaps on tables where people sit to eat? What flowers did your family member love? Is there a color they preferred? 

Get the word out. Invitations can be given casually by phone calls and emails, over social media, or through printed invitations. A column in the paper or invitation included in the obituary are also options. Some people will choose to use a combination to ensure they reach as many of the family and friends who would wish to attend as possible. 
Structure the Ceremony 
  1. Map out the service by creating a program. As you plan the program, you may want to think about music to be played, who will speak, who will give the eulogy, will there be prayer? A program of the event with these details will help keep the ceremony flowing and, if printed, is a nice memorial for the people attending. Churches and funeral homes often have paper programs that can be printed for memorial services.
  2. Choose someone to be in charge of the service -- perhaps a close family member or friend, pastor, or even a funeral director. This person will help keep the service on track. This 'master of ceremonies' should be prepared to take over if a speaker is overcome with emotion. Encourage those who will speak to write their thoughts down in case someone else needs to finish for them. 
Personal Touches for a Memorial Service
  • Create a memorial display table with photos and mementos. You may wish to invite guests to participate by bringing a favorite photo or contributing to a memory jar, where people write fond memories of the deceased for family members to read later.
  • Choose an urn that reflects the person's personality, interests, or unique style. Display the cremation urn with a photograph and lit candle as a comforting reminder for the bereaved. This type of cremation display allows for a natural place to reflect and pay respects.
  • Tokens that family and friends take home can make a memorial service special.
The staff at Stardust Memorials had some thoughtful and fun ideas for memorial gifts: 
Marcy has a favorite salsa and would send everyone home with a jar. 
Katelyn loves sweets so would give cookies in a cute little box tied with mint green ribbon -- her favorite color. 
Lisa likes being remembered for her love of flowers and suggests printed cards infused with wildflower seeds that guests could plant as a living memorial.
If money were no object, Tracy would buy everyone a plane ticket to any place in the world with a note to live life to the fullest! 
Jennifer is a joke teller and likes the idea of people going home laughing and smiling with a small book of her favorite jokes signed off with a George Carlin quote, ìLife is a near-death experience.î
When you plan a celebration of life, each service is a true original. A memorial service that is full of life and personal memories of your relative or dear friend can be comforting and healing for all who attend.