A picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures bring memories to life; they stimulate conversation and can illustrate an entire lifespan.
There are different ways to use pictures in a funeral service. Many funeral homes have resources onsite or know just where a family can find what they need. Photos can be enlarged or displayed on a board or placed in albums on a table. Photos may also be incorporated into a slide show or shown in a loop on a video monitor or flat screen.
The exercise of going through family photos and choosing which to use for the funeral is cathartic in and of itself. As the family members sort through their photos and discuss which to use, stories are bound to be shared. This activity is healing. It helps the mourners move from thinking and talking about the cause of death to thinking and talking about the life that was lived.
As the pictures are selected and decisions are being made about how to share them, think about how time will come into play. How long will people be comfortable standing in front of a flat screen? Ask your funeral director for guidance. Consider sharing photos in more than one format, or having more than one video set up, or showing more than one video at different times in the service. Ask for what you want and need.
The span of a lifetime can be reflected in the music a person listened to and loved. From Frank Sinatra to Pavarotti, boy band to the church choir, music is the background of our lives. Including music in a funeral service can bring life to the service. Do not be afraid to step out of the box. If the one you loved really liked to rock it out at top volume go ahead and ask to play one of their favorites loud, as visitors leave the funeral home. Talk to your funeral director about how you can include the music that reflects your loved one.
A good speaker, who knew well the person who died, can bring both tears and laughter to a funeral service. However, not everyone is a good speaker. Choose wisely and do not be afraid to ask what is going to be said. Surprises can be upsetting to some and funerals always leave a lasting impression. Do not be shy. Ask the speaker what is being planned. This extends to the religious officiant as well, especially if the clergyperson is not well known to the family.
Your funeral director has a lot of valuable experience. Be sure to tap into that experience. Ask her how many speakers to have and how long a service should last. Be sure to watch for overlap in stories. One person talking about the time the football tickets were left at home for the big game is probably enough. Nobody wants to be second up with the same story prepared and rehearsed.
Public speaking is in the top five fears of nearly everyone. If your circle does not include a good storyteller, ask the funeral director if there is a Funeral Celebrant in your community who could help with this part of the service.
The things a person loved help tell their life story. It could be a team they watched or a sport they played. Some people are passionate about their work, others are inspired throughout their life by a hobby or pursuing a talent. Regardless, passions help to define a life. It is no wonder mourners wish to honor their loved one’s passion when life comes to an end.
There are different ways this can be accomplished. There are caskets that honor a team or school. Favors that reflect a love of gardening, cooking, golf or almost anything, can be given to attendees. “Secret” recipes can be shared. Once again, your funeral director will be an excellent resource to help you incorporate the passion all the visitors will recognize into the service.
When family members all share a common faith with the person who died, this part of the funeral service usually comes together easily. However, it sometimes happens that more than one religious affiliation is practiced within the family. In this case, the religious portion of the service is usually a reflection of the faith of the deceased.
When the deceased was not religious but close family members have a strong religious affiliation, who performs the service and how the religious service is handled may become tricky. It is always helpful to remember that funeral services leave a lasting impression. For this reason, it is important to try and please all close family members. Your funeral director can help sort this out.
A funeral may include some or all of the elements mentioned above. It should reflect the life of the person who died and bring comfort to close family members. Funeral directors are eager to have the service meet the family’s desires. Still, funeral directors are not mind readers.
In order to meet the expectations of the family, members must listen to each other and communicate openly with the director. If there is something important to one or more family members, what it is and that it is important must be shared with the funeral director. Seek the professional advice of your funeral director and be clear and firm regarding any elements that will be crucial to the success of any family member’s grieving process.