Planning a funeral is made up of several separate parts that form the whole. You will need to plan a funeral service, plan a wake and plan an obituary, write a eulogy and it is often a lot easier when making use of a Funeral Director or Funeral Celebrant. These are people that will assist you in arranging everything from placing an obituary to choosing a coffin, casket and flowers. The funeral service planning can be especially complicated..
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"With funeral costs rising at a disproportionate rate compared to other industries, we have taken a tough stance to assist both funeral directors and families together." - Dr. Hilary Jones
While we wish to be all inclusive, this page is written primarily from a background of a Church of England denomination. While a Church may well be at ease with a change of order and entering into ideas that are more customary with an individual personality. Other religions may be more strict and adhere to a more traditional order of service. As with anything in life, you can only ask and see if special requests can be accepted.
If you are planning a religious funeral then the local church or religious leader will be able to assist. If you do not make use of a Funeral Director, then you will need to meet with them yourself. Many religious leaders are accustomed to prompting their congregation, especially if the C of E follower is not particular religious but still wishes to have a Church service.
Be assured that they will have been through this procedure many times. Both Celebrants and religious leaders have learned to ask certain questions about the deceased, forming a picture and pulling in related hymns, scriptures and prayers that will celebrate their life. The same can be said for planning a Humanist funeral service. Aspects of life taken to form a picture which can then be turned into words and song.
You will hear the term 'Order of Service' mentioned a lot. It is the procedure with which the funeral service will flow. A bit like ensuring B comes after A and C after B. There might be popular music, a reading, a hymn, a prayer and a hymn for instance.
At certain junctures there will be room for a reading or three, depending on the duration of the service. This is an opportunity for a relative or friend to stand up and state wording that meant something to the deceased or family and friends. It could be a favourite poem or passage from a book. Personalised as well as religious readings like parables or religious texts about heaven and having done good.
The most memorable aspect of a funeral tends to be the music. Music will be played as a coffin enters the Church and a different piece on the way out. the underlying theme of the funeral will probably denote what type of music this could be. Anything from classical music and religious song and organ sound to Rock and Roll and a favourite Boy Band. The music could be live or from a recording. The choice will be yours to make, you will be offered a selection of ideas too by the Celebrant or Funeral Director.
Music within the rest of the service would tend to come in the form of hymns and or a popular song sung. In all of these instances they would tend to have meaning. Perhaps the song lyrics remind the congregation of a special time or event. Or the hymn directly relates to the person who has died. The hymn may also be a favourite and has been requested in the Will.
Both religious and humanist funeral services can include hymns. Assemblies across the country and across many generations saw us all sing hymns and they stick with us through the ages. Hymns are also very much suited to the funeral atmosphere and have recognition and memories for most in attendance. Choose music, lyrics and religious wording that has meaning and defines the person you are saying goodbye too.
Not everyone is comfortable with choosing prayers to be read. Don't worry too much. Remember, you will be asked exacting questions that will help form a picture about the person. Enabling prayers to be relevant. In many cases the matches are so successful people recognise why they were chosen to be read at the service. Favourites and requests will of course be acknowledged, but there may also be certain funeral prayers that need reading also.
It could be said that the main part of the service is the Eulogy. This, aside from the personal touches you have made throughout the rest of the service, will celebrate their life and put it in to focus. We have detailed how to write a Eulogy. In essence it will be read out by one or several close family members and friends. It will give meaning to their life and hopefully provide a reason to those listening as to how they should live their life in a similar vein.
If you choose to organise a funeral service yourself, there is plenty of online literature and guidance from book that will assist. At the moment of someone's passing, where time is critical and suggestions very helpful, consulting a funeral celebrant or funeral director is probably the best avenue to take. Never shy away from asking questions and if you forget something, don't worry, you can always call them, it's their job to be there for you.