Funeral services are often rooted deeply in tradition, whether cultural or religious, and paying homage to the practices of those who came before us can be meaningful and even beautiful. But respecting tradition doesn’t have to mean ignoring creativity. After all, those we love are unique, with varied interests, stories and quirks. The funeral service you plan can certainly do justice to the individuality of the person who has passed. Here are some ideas we’re fond of:
1. Display photos
If you have access to some or many photos of the person who has passed, consider displaying them in an interesting way. Make a photo board or display framed photos throughout the funeral chapel. Better yet, ask your funeral director if he or she will help you put together a photo video to play before or during the service. (Your funeral director will be happy to help you with that.) Funeral attendees will love the opportunity to reflect on the life of somebody they cared about through touching moments caught on camera.
2. Fitting food
Food tends to be deeply rooted into who we are, whether we spend a lot of time in the kitchen or simply at the kitchen table. Why not incorporate those preferences and traditions into the day of the funeral? If your loved one had a “famous” recipe, consider enlisting a kitchen-savvy friend to make it and bring it to a location where attendees will be gathering after the service. If your loved one was more of a take-out fanatic, there’s no rule against serving pizza or tacos to hungry friends and family.
Just as is the case with food, the music we love says a lot about who we are. If the deceased has a favorite artist or band, you can easily incorporate a song or two into the funeral ceremony.
4. Create a memorial
You and your friends and family may wish to create some sort of lasting monument to the person who has passed, and there are lots of great ideas for how to do just that. Planting memorial trees has become rather popular, and we also like the idea of having funeral attendees write messages on stones to be displayed in a garden or backyard. Memorial quilts incorporating the decedent’s old t-shirts or favorite colors and designs are an interesting idea. Gathering a few friends to compile a simple scrapbook could also be soothing and provide a cherished object for future reflection.
5. Share stories
Funeral ceremonies often contain eulogies and prayers, but many times it is the first-hand stories that resonate most with mourners. You might ask more than one speaker to stand up and tell a favorite story about your loved one. You could even keep the ceremony more free-form and invite anybody who would like to speak to come to the podium.
6. Host a favorite activity
Was your loved one an avid dominos player? Did he golf all the time? We all have important activities and hobbies, and many times, others will enjoy them, too. We like the idea of hosting an activity of some sort after or near the funeral service. Invite some or all of the attendees to play the decedent’s favorite game or read passages from her favorite book. This is a nice, positive way to feel closer to the person who has passed.