- Death & Loss of Life
Unique Ideas To Personalize a Funeral or Memorial
“The most memorable services are the ones that are truly unique.” ss
There are a variety of traditions and practices for honoring the life of a loved one who has died. Whether you are planning a wake visitation, funeral ceremony, memorial service, church mass or a celebration of life, it has become common practice to personalize the event.
I'd like to share with you my creative ideas to personalize a funeral that you may have never thought of before.
Was The Deceased An AVID READER
If the deceased was an avid reader with many books, why not share the books with family and friends. Display the books on a shelf at the service.
Create a large, legible sign that reads something like: HENRY WAS AN AVID READER. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO TAKE ONE OF HIS BOOKS AND ENJOY IN HIS MEMORY.
Was The Deceased Known As A GREAT BAKER
Let’s say the deceased was well known for making the best oatmeal cookies. Why not have their special cookies available at the service. Make up individual treat bags filled with the cookies. Then attach a card with the recipe to each bag: EVERYONE ALWAYS LOVED SOPHIA’S OATMEAL COOKIES ~ ENJOY HER SPECIAL RECIPE.
Did The Deceased ENJOY GARDENING
Purchase a variety of seed starter packs (or flower bulbs) to give to each attendee. Attach a prayer card to each pack.
Or you could attach a note: SAM LOVED HIS GARDENING ~ PLEASE PLANT IN HIS MEMORY.
Or what about the use of garden stepping stones in front of the casket. Why not? Be creative.
Did The Deceased Enjoy Certain MUSIC
For example, my brother-in-law's father loved Polka’s and played them all the time. Everyone who knew Tony, knew he loved Polka’s. They played Polka music (quietly) at his funeral service. I realize that some people may feel this is inappropriate. But, for those in attendance, it was extremely meaningful and memorable.
For a service or mass, choose music that personalizes the experience.
Did The Deceased Have A FAVORITE HANGOUT
Is there a favorite location?
A restaurant, lounge, country club, park, etc. that the deceased often visited.
Plan a gathering in honor of the deceased at their favorite place.
Was the deceased a SPORTS FAN
Let’s say the deceased was avid Cleveland Browns fan (no giggles please). You could announce in the newspaper obituary: THE FAMILY OF SO AND SO WOULD APPRECIATE IF EVERYONE WOULD WEAR THEIR FAVORITE CLEVELAND BROWNS ATTIRE TO THE SERVICE.
Of course, you could also have team memorabilia displayed at the service.
The deceased could also be dressed in his/her favorite sportswear.
Did The Deceased Have A PET
Let’s say that the deceased has a dog named Peanut who has been their buddy through thick and thin.
Why can’t Peanut attend the service? No doubt, Peanut is grieving too. Let Peanut be part of personalizing the service.
Was The Deceased a NATURE LOVER
During an outdoor service, you could have a butterfly release or even release doves. Another practice that I have seen often is a balloon release. There is something peaceful about watching the balloons slowly float away in the breeze.
HOW WE PERSONALIZED MY GRANDMOTHER'S FUNERAL: My grandmother used to make flowers out of yarn. She would then fill baskets with her special flowers and give them to nursing homes to cheer up the residents. During my grandmother’s service at the cemetery, we handed everyone an individual flower that she created. At the end of the service, we gave everyone a helium-filled balloon and asked them to tie the flower to the bottom of the balloon string but to not let it go yet.
We had a tape player and played one of Gram’s favorite songs. On the count of 1, 2, 3, we all released our balloons with the flowers attached and just watched in awe as they floated wherever they may. It was a beautiful representation that Grandma’s love, through her flowers, will continue to touch many people wherever they land.
Was The Deceased A PHOTOGRAPHER
Who says you cannot take photographs at a funeral or memorial service? Honestly, you could do whatever you want. If the deceased was a photographer, have disposable cameras available for anyone to use when the setting is appropriate. Other than weddings, this is the time when we see people that we don’t normally get to visit with. In honor of the photographer, create lasting memories.
Active Memory Boards
Creating memory boards and memory tables with photographs and memorabilia has been a common practice for a long time now.
BUT what about having a blank canvas where people can write something special about the deceased. Ask visitors to jot down their favorite memory or even just how they are feeling at that time. It will be a wonderful keepsake for the family of the deceased.
Did The Deceased Have A FAVORITE QUOTE
So the deceased is known to have loved using quotes. Display these special quotes at the service or in the casket. Have them read aloud at the service.
Here is a unique example of something that my family also did at my Grandmother’s funeral. Gram was well known for saying “God Bless You” to everyone she came in contact with. On a side note, Gram’s favorite dessert was ice cream with crushed pretzels on top.
Following her funeral service, we had a luncheon at a restaurant. I arranged the dessert ahead of time. After everyone was finished eating their lunch, the waitresses delivered dessert to each guest ~ bowls of ice cream with crushed pretzels on top, with a toothpick “flag” in the ice cream that said “God Bless You.” It was an extremely touching and emotional moment when everyone realized it was Gram’s favorite dessert and quote.
Will Children Be In Attendance
If there are children at the wake, give them a special place to keep busy. Set up a table with paper and crayons.
Have them write a note or draw a special picture to be placed in the casket with the deceased or presented to the family as a keepsake.
Who says you can’t use name badges at a funeral service? Of course you can. This type of event is always one where you see people that you have not in a long time. You see someone, they look familiar, but, what is their name? Now you will know who everyone is with the use of name badges.
It’s a Difficult Time
Planning a Funeral, Memorial Service and/or Celebration of Life is a complicated, exhausing process, which is made even more difficult by the emotional stress that accompanies the death of a loved one. Even if some pre-planning has taken place, it still is an overwhelming journey.
If you are physically and emotionally unable to take part in the planning process, never be afraid to ask others for assistance during this time. Take care of yourself and let others manage the details.
As I am writing this article, I am sensitive to the fact that not everyone will appreciate these creative ideas. There will be those that think some of the ideas are silly. Some people may say that they are not able to incorporate more personalization for a funeral due to religious beliefs among other reasons.
From my own experience, I have found that wake visitations, funeral ceremonies, memorial services, church masses, and/or celebrations of life that have been uniquely personalized in loving honor of the deceased ~ leave attendees with long-lasting memories that nurture their grieving process.
This is Sharyn’s Slant
PLEASE SHARE YOUR UNIQUE IDEAS TO PERSONALIZE A FUNERAL IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW. THANK YOU!