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Memorial Service Ideas

Planning a funeral or memorial service can be an overwhelming task.  It can be a challenge to come up with memorial service ideas.  There are so many details to consider.  The first step is to decide whether or not you will plan a funeral or memorial service.  To decide between a funeral or memorial service, see our article "Difference between a Funeral and Memorial Service".  Also see our articles on Planning a Child's Memorial and planning Celebration of Life Services.

If you choose a memorial ceremony, you will have a lot more flexibility and time to create a personalized experience.  A memorial service program that focus on the interests, activities, and past times of the person who has passed away are becoming more and more popular.   These services are often held in less formal venues, and include many different personalized activities to remember your loved one.  

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Consider the following criteria when planning a memorial service:

Decide on a location or setting

The location, or setting of the memorial service is key to establishing the mood and atmosphere.  Typically, services may be held in a church building or religious setting, but they do not have to be.  If the deceased wasn't a religious person, or didn't have a home church,  consider alternative settings such as a park, riverside, lodge, or marina. If the person had a very specific hobbies or  interests, consider a golf course, baseball field, art gallery, beach or ski hill. Always think about how the person spent his or her time, and how he or she would want to be remembered.  Keep in mind whether or not you will be serving food, and how many people you think will be attending.  Adapt the location so that it fits your needs.

Pick a time and date

The time and date of the memorial service can influence how many people attend, as well as dictate the theme of the service.  Memorial services can be schedules weeks, and even months after the death.  Some choose to delay until the person's birthday or anniversary.  Either way, schedule the service so that guests have plenty of time to make travel arrangements.  Consider whether you want to have the service in the early morning, mid-afternoon, or late evening.

Select a theme or purpose

The purpose, or theme, of the service allows people to truly focus on the person who has passed away and remember specific details about the person.  Listed below are some possible themes to use in memorial services. These themes can easily help determine what types of readings to use, what songs to sing, what foods to serve, and what items to bring to the service. Overall, once you choose a theme, planning the memorial service gets easier.

Create the Perfect Memorial Program

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How to Select a Theme

  • Did he or she have a specific hobby? Consider displaying sports equipment, trophies and awards, cooking utensils, written items, art and craftwork, or stamp collections anything that recognizes the person's interests.  Considering selecting a funeral program template that represents his interest.

  • Maybe the person took great pride in his or her career. If so, honor the profession by displaying items he or she used. Career-centered themes are especially appropriate for service-driven professionals such as firefighters, police officers, military figures, nurses and teachers.

  • Consider the person's culture and ancestry. Most cultures have their own traditions and ways of celebrating life. Investigate some of the unique rituals within the person's culture and honor his or her history.

  • Some people are remembered simply because of their relationship to you.  You may choose to honor the person's role, such as mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, etc. and recognize the value of the relationship.  There are many memorial or funeral poems for mom or dad, as well as funeral scripture verses and songs that can help you communicate your relationship with the person.

Personalize the Memorial Service

There are a wide variety of ways that you can personalize a memorial service. 

Make Your Own Programs and Bookmarks...It's Easy

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  • Professional Designs formatted using Microsoft Word or Publisher or MAC Pages
  • All wording can be changed, including the program title
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