When you plan a funeral, many questions arise. Should you have a burial or cremation? Should you have a visitation? What day do you have to have the ceremony? But there’s one essential question that should always be in mind during the funeral planning process: What do you want people to remember about your loved one?
A funeral is a celebration of a life lived. It’s a chance for everyone who loved your loved one to come together and honor the memory of someone who meant so much to them. Every funeral is unique because every person has so many different things that make them special. Here are a few ways to incorporate who your loved one was into their funeral.
Ways to Honor Your Loved One at Their Funeral
1. Surround the funeral with things that were special to your loved one.
Perhaps your loved one enjoyed nothing more than a day kayaking on the water of the lake by their house. Finding a way to incorporate their kayaking gear into the funeral is a lovely way to honor their memory. You could integrate their paddles into flower arrangements or place them next to the casket throughout the ceremony. Or maybe your loved one was famous for their baking. Whip up a batch of their favorite recipe to have at the ceremony. You could also compile some of their most well-known recipes into a book for guests to read at the funeral and bury them with those recipes that meant so much to them in life. These small trinkets and gifts make a big impact in helping to celebrate what made your loved one special.
2. Ask for help from other people who loved them.
You knew your loved one, but you likely knew them at a certain point in their life or saw one side of them most often. But maybe your kayaking loved one had a group that they went out on the water with every week. Or your baking loved one made sure to deliver cookies to their church every week and made many friends there. Your loved one was a complex, multi-faceted person. And although you have an idea of how you want your loved one to be remembered, many people will likely remember them for different things. When you plan a funeral, strive to show all the aspects of your loved one, even the parts of them that maybe they didn’t show as much around you. Every life is filled with magical moments spent with so many different people who matter to us. Those people can help you celebrate your loved one when the day comes that they can no longer make new memories with us.
3. Make a memorial quilt for the funeral.
Memorial quilts, also known as mourning or bereavement quilts, have a long tradition with funerals. These quilts are used to celebrate the life of a loved one by incorporating pieces of who they are into each block. You can work with a professional and send them information about the decedent so that they can build something that honors their memory. But you could also opt to turn the quiltmaking into a family affair. Ask your family and close friends who would be interested in contributing a block. Then, tell whoever is interested to design a block with how they remember their loved one. Just be sure that everyone’s block is at least a little different. If the decedent was very into fishing, ensure that not every person sewing a block is making their section fishing themed. In the end, you’ll have a beautiful tapestry of your loved one’s life, which you can display at the funeral by hanging up or draping over the coffin.
4. Put together a funeral slideshow that goes through their life.
When you collect photos for a funeral, you’re filling the room with memories. But when you create a slideshow, you’re taking it a step further by forming a narrative with those images. Through those pictures, you can truly tell someone’s story. You can play a funeral slideshow during the ceremony, and if you choose to do it this way, you can also add narration, audio clips of your loved one, or music. However, you can also opt to play the slideshow silently during the visitation or memorial party by projecting it on the walls, allowing those photos to dance around the people who came to pay their respects. Just remember to check with the funeral home to ensure that they have a projector. Most funeral homes do, but you’ll have to provide your own if not.
When you plan a funeral, you always want to keep in mind that you’re creating an event that helps people say goodbye to your loved one. And a part of making that happen is by ensuring that the funeral honors who that person really was. When you ask yourself what you want people to remember about your loved one, be sure that your answer has a prominent presence at the funeral.