Personalised Funeral Service
As I look back at the funerals that I have conducted and been involved in I can see there is a strong move towards having a personalised funeral service. This doesn’t mean going to the extreme for every funeral but it could just be adding a touch of what the person was about. This is the first part of a two that look at the personal touches and differences that can be made to a funeral service. I hope that this will give you some ideas to consider and get you talking to your loved ones about what you would want.
Here are some ways to add a touch of personality into the funeral service. Please remember, never be scared to ask for something that means a lot to you or to the loved one that you are celebrating.
Transport – There is now such a wide range of funeral vehicles that could be used the choice is endless. These are very personal and not to every ones choice, but if it’s what they would have wanted…why not? The change can be as simple as a different coloured vehicle. Many people do not want the colour black and so have a silver or white hearse and limousines. Of course there are other variations to the tradition hearse:
- Horse and carriage
- Pink hearse
- Vintage hearse
- Motorbike hearse
- Bicycle hearse
- VW Camper van hearse
- Land rover hearse
- Tank hearse
- Eco electric hearse
- Only fools and horses hearse
- JCB hearse
Anything is possible
Flowers – Flowers are a part of the funeral service that shows a lot about the person. These can be traditional or modern and beautiful in their own right. Adaptation can be made by having flowers from your own garden, using their favourite colour or flower, and for the very keen vegetable gardeners there is also the option to use their own vegetables within the floral tribute.
On a different note there are also adaptations to the style of the tribute. I have seen many wonderful creations in my time including pigs, post boxes, fish, armchairs, football logos, horses, screwdrivers and many more. These were a mix of 2D and 3D and really show a different, unique side to the individual.
Music – A very personal part of the service and one that is very hard to select is the music. Within this is how many pieces of music should there be. Traditionally there are two pieces of music and between 1-2 hymns depending on the type of service. A full Roman Catholic mass may have many more hymns within the service. For non-religious services it is becoming more common to have a piece of reflective music in place of a hymn. Within this time the congregation can take some time to remember the deceased. I would thoroughly recommend that this is something that is discussed as the music played shows the feel of the funeral and the individual. I have had the pleasure of hearing everything from Frank Sinatra to Johnny Cash, Metallica and even the Star Wars theme.
Speeches, reading, poems, and eulogy – It is a very poinient part of the service when the life of the deceased and the memories that people have with them are read out within the eulogy or within speeches. These can be funny, sad, shocking and very emotional. Readings and poems offer a way of expressing how you feel and can be either religious or non-religious. “The Broken Chain” is an example of a poem that could be used, especially when the death was unexpected or for someone younger. There are many sources to find such reading and poems but the best that I would recommend is your funeral director and your minister/officiant.
Photographs – These can be projected within a church or crematorium chapel and depict the life of the deceased. These show all the defining moments from baby, growing up, teenage years, young loves, marriage, with children and grandchildren. Many crematoriums now have screens within their chapels and can have these playing to a piece of music. A simple single photograph can also be used to show the persons individuality. I have placed these within the hearse, alongside the coffin and by the flowers.
Order of service – These are the booklets that show the congregation how the service will be carried out, any words to hymns, where any charity donations are to be sent, any reception details and also gives a way of expressing yourself. There are many different styles out there and can be anything from 4 to 12 pages. If you’re stuck on what to do then ask your funeral director or other members of the family for inspiration. You will always be given a proof that will show you exactly how it will be laid out.
I hope this first part has given you some ideas on how you can individualise the funeral service, and that you find the second just as interesting.