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Parts of a Memorial Service

The loss of a friend or loved one is a very difficult time.  The following suggestions are designed to offer you assistance in understanding the memorial service process and to help guide you through this difficult time.  The following suggestions are given to us by the Rev. Sarah York (Masters of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School) on page 20 of her book Remembering Well: Rituals for Celebrating Life and Mourning Death.

There are four elements that are essential to nearly all ceremonies:

Opening remarks:

  • Set the tone for the service

  • Honor the feelings of those that are gathered

  • Name the meaning of the gathering and include people who could not be present

  • Speak on behalf of family who may not be able to speak for themselves


Honor and remember the person who has died

  • Compose a memorial portrait

  • Read obituary

  • Give a tribute or eulogy

  • Personal remarks from family and friends

Invoke a spirit of gratitude, healing, and love (as in a litany or a prayer)

Offer words of blessing and inspiration for the living

Also see our articles on:
Difference between a funeral and memorial service
Funeral Service Ideas
Funeral Service Checklist

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