Planning a Memorial Funeral
By Mike Selvon
While traditional funeral services tend to be austere,
solemn and cookie-cutter, you'll find you can more
adequately celebrate a deceased person's life with a
memorial funeral. Instead of rushing to throw something
together in a few days, you can take a few weeks to
assemble meaningful photo collages or videos and
refreshments, at a location that meant something to the
deceased. You can invite out-of-towners and the body
need not be present.
After death, you can have a memorial at a church, in a
retirement home activity room, at a hotel, in an art
museum, outdoors at a public park, at a special banquet
hall or restaurant, or even at someone's home. Try to
pick a location that was special to the person in some
way. The idea is to facilitate memories and provide an
atmosphere that isn't awkward or oppressive.
You may call upon clergy to run the memorial funeral, or
a relative may wish to do the honors. Try to pick a
theme that reflects the person's life. Was he a war
veteran, a loving father, a masterful chef, a rebel, a
race car driver?
For conversation's sake, it's a good idea to create a
scrapbook or memory book, a video collage, or even poems
and writings about the loved one. If the deceased was an
artist, a writer or a musician, it would be neat to have
some of their creative works on hand.
Music is generally important for the memorial too.
People find strength through song, where ordinary words
can't reach. For a list of song ideas, you can check
You may want gospel hymns or classic rock songs,
depending on the atmosphere you wish to create. Slow
soothing ballads or bagpipe songs can be real
tear-jerkers. More upbeat songs can keep the mood light
and pay tribute to the person in a more contemporary
The best thing you can do during a time of grief is to
remain busy. Planning a thoughtful memorial funeral can
be cathartic for you and the other participants,
allowing you time to mourn the passing of the dead, but
also time to celebrate the wonderful life he or she
lived. Gathering together creates a support net so you
will never feel alone. Even when there's nothing to say,
a hug or warm gesture can make all the difference.
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