A memorial service could be best described as a hybrid of a traditional funeral and celebration of life. A memorial service has some structure, but it still allows you the flexibility to make the ceremony unique and personalized to fit the individual being honored. Also the mood generally lies somewhere in the middle of completely somber and celebratory.
- We find the most common reason people choose a memorial service is that they want the extra time to plan a ceremony. Since a memorial service can take place after the body has been buried or cremated, there is no rush to organize a ceremony. Immediately following a death, families are not emotionally ready to have a ceremony. Relatives and friends that live far away can organize their schedule to travel for the memorial service.
- Commonly those who are not spiritual choose to have a memorial service as opposed to a traditional funeral because traditional funerals are more often associated with religion.
- Memorial services tend to be less expensive than traditional funerals.
- Some people find celebrations of life do not pay enough attention to the deceased and turn solely into a party.
Use of a Civil Celebrant
Often memorial services are led by celebrants. A celebrant is a person who has been trained to conduct formal ceremonies, such as weddings, baptisms and funerals. They are not clergy; instead they are experienced masters-of-ceremony and story-tellers. A celebrant works closely with surviving family to create a ceremony which reflects the beliefs, cultural background, values and aspirations of your deceased loved one, and your family. If you think you would be best served by a celebrant, please speak with your funeral director.
Memorial Service Ideas
At memorial services, you want to make sure your loved one's personality and values are featured. Below are some examples of things you can do to highlight personalities and passions.
Accepting Donations in Lieu of Flowers
If your loved one had a cause or non-profit organization they cared about deeply, consider accepting donations toward that cause or organization.
Quotes & Poems
Think about favorite sayings from your loved one or words he/she lived by. You can decorate your venue with posters and banners with these sayings. Or maybe you can add this line to memorial or thank you cards.
Plant a Memorial Tree
Planting a memorial tree has become popular for those who are cremated so that it offers a place where people can visit much like a grave site.
Showcase Your Loved One's Hobbies
Consider creating a display case with some of your loved one's most cherished items or fill it with generic items that describe one of their greatest passions. For example, for a person who loved to travel you could create a showcase with a passport, luggage bag, some souvenirs that were collected, and a map marking all the places he/she traveled to.