One Approach to Planning

One Approach to Planning a Memorial Service

First Week after Death: Do nothing about the memorial service. Instead, make cremation or interment arrangements, rest, exercise, visit/grieve with those who are close to you, make financial/legal decisions if any are immediately necessary, telephone a few close friends/family and ask them to telephone others.

2nd Week:

After the 2nd week: Start planning food, music, flowers, comments, displays. You gave yourself plenty of time for this by setting the memorial for at least a month after the death. Some ideas:

  1. Preparation and photocopying of a memorial booklet enables people to take something away from the memorial, and enables out-of-towners to contribute to the service. About two weeks before the memorial, gather up poems, letters, reminiscences, photographs, which you received in response to your letter and arrange them in some manner for photocopying. The form of the booklet is not important. People do not expect to see something professional and will appreciate anything which you do. It is a lot of work, and the photocopying is expensive, but gathering these memories in this concrete way can aid tremendously in your experience of grieving and in gathering spiritual strength in the wake of your loss.
  2. A display of photographs, letters, and other things on poster board is easy to do and means a lot to people at the memorial. This is a job which you can assign to the children in your family and they will love you for it.
  3. Ask about five people, in advance of the memorial, to commit to saying something at the memorial. Once they have broken the ice, others will naturally come forward with comments and you will probably get more speakers than you have time for.
  4. If you have planned for music at the memorial, do it first after welcoming everyone. It centers and relaxes everyone and makes it easier to proceed with the rest.
  5. No agenda or program is necessary, other than:
    1. Welcoming comments.
    2. Musical interlude to get everyone in the spirit.
    3. Comments from approx. five people, prearranged.
    4. Invite everyone else to make comments, share memories, poems, etc.
    5. Refreshments.
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