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Planning a funeral service

Planning the service might feel daunting and it’s natural to worry about getting things right. But there is no right or wrong way to plan it – funerals don’t have to follow a set formula and the service can be as individual as the life it’s celebrating.

Remember and celebrate your loved one

The funeral service is a way to remember and celebrate the life of the person who has died. It can also help family and friends begin to process their loss.

We’re here to help

Whatever type of service you choose, your funeral director and your chosen celebrant or religious leader, are here to guide you through.

This page contains some ideas on what you might like to include. You can also download a booklet with this information and examples of readings, prayers, hymns and songs. Or you can ask your funeral director for a printed copy.

If you get stuck, or just need to talk it through with someone, we, along with your chosen celebrant, are here to help. Please get in touch if you need us.

Where to start

The first thing to do is decide what elements you’d like to include in the service. Your celebrant can help you with this, but you could include some or all of the following:

  • Entrance and/or exit music
  • A short time for reflection and remembrance while a song or piece of music plays
  • A visual tribute, such a large photos or a slideshow of pictures set to music
  • Readings or poems
  • A spoken tribute or eulogy

If the service is religious, there may be a more set pattern to follow, and your religious leader can talk you through it.

Getting everything ready

Once you’ve decided what elements you’d like to have, it’s time to choose or create them. Below you’ll find information about:

  • A spoken tribute, who might do it and how to write one
  • Visual tributes
  • Poems, readings or prayers
  • Music or hymns
  • Order of service

Planning a spoken tribute or eulogy

Many people choose to have a spoken tribute, or eulogy, as part of the service. It’s a lovely way to capture the character and share memories of the person who has died. A tribute can also be a real gift to people at the service, helping them to experience parts of the person’s life they didn’t know much about.

If you do decide to include a spoken tribute, your celebrant will guide you through the planning and writing, and you can ask other family members or friends to help – you don’t have to do it alone.

Decide who will write and give the tribute

It can be anyone, but it’s usually a family member, a close friend, or the celebrant. You can have more than one person give a tribute.

Write the tribute

It can be difficult to know where to start. Your celebrant can help you and we’ve included some tips here for you as well.

Things you might like to think about:

  • What you loved about them
  • What made them laugh
  • Who or what they loved or cared deeply about
  • When they were at their happiest
  • Places they travelled or lived
  • Things they achieved
  • What they might say to people at the funeral

It can also be helpful to talk to friends and family about their memories of the person who has died.

As you start writing

Get everything down on paper first, then come back to edit it afterwards. You don’t have to finish it all in one go.

There’s no set way to structure it. You could do it in date order, or around themes such as areas of their life or their defining characteristics.

As you edit, read it out loud to see what it sounds like. Reading it to someone else can also be really helpful.

There’s no set length, but a good length to aim for is between 5 and 10 minutes.

Prepare to give the tribute

Use larger writing or text with lots of space between the lines. It makes it much easier to read. We can help you with this if you’re not sure how to do it.

Make sure you have a couple of copies on the day.

Staple the sheets of paper together so they stay in order if you drop your speech.

If you can, visit the space where you’ll give the tribute beforehand, so you’ll feel more comfortable.

Ask a friend or the celebrant to be on hand to take over if you’re unable to finish.

Take tissues.

Giving the tribute

It’s ok to cry or feel shaky. No one will mind.

Deep breaths and pauses can help you to centre yourself and keep going.

Deliberately taking your time and speaking slowly can also help you to feel calmer.

Ask for help if you need it.

Remember you’re doing a wonderful thing helping people to remember and celebrate the life of someone they loved.

Photos and visual tributes

Sharing photos of the person who has died can be a lovely way to capture their personality and remember different parts of their life.

Large pictures

You may like to display a large picture of the person who has died. This could be on a screen or printed and displayed in a frame or on an easel. If you’d like to include one, please let us know and we can help you organise it.

Memorial slideshows

A memorial slideshow is a series of pictures set to music, which are displayed on a large screen for people at the funeral to watch. The slideshow can also be kept, and shared with others, so you can rewatch it in years to come.

How to make a memorial slideshow

You’ll need to decide on the music and the photos. There are no rules, you can choose the music and photos that reflect their personality best.

The music can be popular or classic, reflective or upbeat. If you need some inspiration, there are a list of popular choices later on in this booklet.

Depending on the length of music, we’d suggest around 25 to 30 photos.

If you’d like help putting it all together, we can do that for you. We can use digital and printed photos. Once we’ve made it, we’ll of course make sure you’re happy with it.

Whether you make one yourself, or we do it for you, we will also get it ready to be shown at the service.

Choosing poems, readings or prayers

You may already have something in mind, or the person who died may have asked for something particular. If not, we’ve included some ideas in our ‘planning a funeral service’ booklet.

You could also think about:

  • What expresses their personality?
  • What will offer comfort to people mourning?
  • What books, poems, films or prayers did they love?
  • Whether you, or someone else, would like to write something unique.

You don’t have to use things exactly as they are, people often change words to make a reading fit better.

Choosing music or hymns

Much like readings, there are no set rules. Some people choose to go for quiet, reflective music, others choose more uplifting or upbeat music.

Think about what the person who has died would have loved and what will offer comfort to people at the funeral.

Again, you’ll find some popular choices later in this booklet to help if you’re not sure where to start.

Creating the order of service

The order of service can be a wonderful keepsake for people. On the day it helps people follow along with the service. In the future it allows them to revisit all the readings and music that have been carefully chosen to remember and honour the person who has died.

There’s no set format for the order of service. Some people choose to keep it simple, others include lots of photos and extra text or phrases that have special meaning.

Whatever you would like, our in-house design service can help you create a beautifully designed and uniquely personalised order of service.

We can also help you with matching stationery, such as:

  • Thank you cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Remembrance cards
  • Prayer cards
  • Books of condolence
  • Attendance cards
  • Large printed photos
  • Photo books

Your funeral director will talk to you about the stationery you need and, along with your celebrant, we’ll help you plan it all out.

Need support or reassurance?

Or want to ask a question. We’re here for you at any time of day or night.

Bereavement care and support

Whether you need emotional or practical support there is plenty of help out there. Explore our directory of services to find out what’s available.

— Est. 1867 Design & DevelopmentWebsite by CHOPS.

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