Planning a Meaningful Tribute

There are many things to consider when planning a meaningful tribute to someone’s life. Most services contain some or all of the following elements so that you have the freedom to celebrate the life of an individual in your own unique way.

This is the opportunity to be with those who grieve, and to be with the person who died. It can be the hardest thing to do-but many experts agree that the visitation is the most personal meaningful step in coming to terms with the death. Consider:

• Special music
• Placing a private letter or special object in the casket
• Sharing favourite memories
• Keepsakes that were special to the deceased
• Photo

Service Opening
This is the start of the ceremony, which states the purpose of the gathering and sets the tone for the ceremony. Consider:

• Family members/friends light candles
• Special processional music
• Placing a flower by the urn or on the casket
• Special person acts as the urn bearer
• Formal religious receiving and processional
• Meaningful opening statement

These may be readings from religious scripture or from other inspirational sources. Consider:

• A passage or poem which captures the unique life and philosophies of the deceased
• Something the deceased has written, such as poem or cherished letter
• Reading by a friend or relative
• A recording of a reading, such as an excerpt from a play
• Responsorial readings, which allow those in attendance to participate

Music, like the readings, expresses our emotions and beliefs. It is a powerful medium which is both personal and universal. Consider:

• A performance, such as an instrumental or vocal selection
• Various types of music throughout the service
• A recording of a favourite song

The eulogy pays tribute to and recalls the life of the deceased. It is a very important aspect of the funeral and its focal point. Consider:

• Frequently use the name of the deceased
• Consult with others to include memories from many different people and aspects of the life of the deceased
• Invite others to share their memories
• Include upbeat, even humorous memories
• Include a memorial display with items such as photos, trophies, special objects, music and video

Just like the opening, the closing might be just a few sentences. The closing needs words that are chosen carefully (e.g. those which set forth in religious rites) which leave a lasting impression. Consider:

• Family members may carry a flower from the service
• Selection of special people to be pallbearers or urn bearer
• Special, meaningful processional music
• Military or fraternal last rites

Following the service, the guests may proceed to the committal, which is the placing of the casket or urn in its final resting place. A very emotional time of “letting go”, the committal acknowledges the reality and finality of death. Consider:

• Lowering the casket or urn into the earth
• Placing earth on the casket or urn at the graveside
• Taking a flower from the committal as a memory
• Moment of silence
• Placing flowers, releasing balloons or doves
• Reciting prayers
• Special music such as bagpipe or solo trumpet

This is the opportunity following the service and/or committal for the mourners to get together in a social setting, to provide support through the sharing of food and conversation. Consider:

• Sharing stories
• A memory table with special items to recall the life of the deceased, such as photo albums
• Special music
• Reinforce friendships and relationships through tears and laughter.

With the general outline in place, you can see there are many opportunities to personalize the service. The staff at Bardal Funeral Home have a great deal of experience in this regard, so don’t hesitate to ask for our assistance.

Remember that you have the right to mourn the way you wish. Exercise your freedom to follow your beliefs and traditions, to embrace the pain of your loss, to recall the memories of the one you have lost, and to have anyone you wish in attendance to share your grief. What is meaningful will vary from family to family. For some, the comfort of cultural and religious rituals will play a large part. For others, the location of the ceremony, such as a park or special church, will be significant.

For you and others, the funeral is only the start of the healing process. Don’t expect the funeral ceremony to be, and don’t try to make it be, all things to all people. Take comfort in the thought that there will be other times to recall special memories with friends, grieve with your immediate family, or visit a special place to be alone with your thoughts.