Funerals are seen as a valuable part of the grieving process. They give surviving family members and friends a chance to celebrate the life lived rather than the life lost.
As individuals or families find themselves in a position to plan services, many seek ways to make them more meaningful. That’s where personalization comes in.
From customized memory boards showcasing special photographs to music and mementos, the popularity of personalization is on the rise. Personalization gives families a chance to add special touches to the service that remind them of their loved one as they say their final goodbye.
As your family prepares for services, consider these nine personalization ideas to help tell the story of your loved one’s life.
1. Create a Memorial Card
When searching for ways to personalize a funeral service, a memorial card is a great place to start. Cards with pictures of achievements, statements, verses and readings are a lasting reminder of your loved one’s life. Often distributed to those attending, a memorial card serves as a keepsake for attendees to take home after the funeral, as well as a guide throughout the service.
Designing a memorial card doesn’t have to be difficult. They can often be ordered right through the funeral home with different colors, fonts, layouts and sizes to choose from to make the card truly unique.
2. Display Personal Belongings
Another way to personalize your loved one’s funeral service is to display personal belongings. Consider their hobbies and passions. Did they have a favorite sports team? A favorite season?
By displaying personal items, you help those in attendance get a better understanding of what your loved one valued in life. Incorporating these items can enhance the aesthetic of the service and provide comfort during this difficult time.
3. Show a Tribute Video
As you plan services, talk with the funeral home about their audio and video technology capabilities for webcasting. When considering your personalization options, you may decide to share your loved one’s life story with a tribute video or photo slideshow that you can broadcast to others who may not be able to attend services.
Ask family members and friends to send pictures and videos to include. This helps to spark conversations, stories and memories amongst attendees. Beyond that, the video can serve as a keepsake for your family to turn to well after the service is over.
>>>Related Resource: Enrich Your Loved One’s Life Celebration with These 4 Technologies
4. Play Music
Did your loved one play an instrument? Who was their favorite band? Music is a great way to personalize services.
Ask the funeral home about their audio capabilities. If they have speakers available, plug in your phone or other music-streaming device to share a playlist before, during or after services. You may also choose to have someone sing or play an instrument. Whether it's through comforting sounds or familiar lyrics, music heals the soul.
5. Involve Friends
Having close friends say a few words about the person who passed adds a personal touch to the funeral. For example, a special quote or verse could be read in honor of your loved one.
Or, if someone feels a calling to deliver a eulogy, allow him or her to do so. There’s no rule against having more than one person speak.
6. Choose a Meaningful Flower Arrangement
A meaningful way to personalize a funeral service is with flowers. If your loved one favored daffodils or hydrangeas, be sure to incorporate such flowers into floral arrangements.
The types of flowers you select can express specific sentiments of the deceased. For instance, a yellow tulip represents a common expression for cheerful thoughts. A red rose, on the other hand, conveys respect, love and courage.
7. Incorporate Favorite Clothing
A simple way to personalize a service is through clothes. If the service is open casket, take time to pick out your grandma’s favorite dress, or your dad’s favorite baseball hat. It’s important that you dress your loved one in clothes that are meaningful to his or her life. Plus, it’ll bring back for memories for attendees who remember seeing your loved one in his or her favorite article of clothing.
8. Arrange for Military Honors
If your loved one served in the United States Armed Forces, talk with the funeral home about military honors. Honors are determined by the branch of service based on the rank of the veteran. With proper documentation, a funeral home can arrange for special observances including:
- Gun salute.
- Color guard.
- Flag folding.
- Flag presentation.
9. Involve a Funeral Celebrant in the Tribute
If you do not have an officiant in mind for the funeral, Certified Celebrants can help you conduct a personalized tribute. At Busch Funeral and Crematory Services, our celebrants are trained to listen to families and honor their wishes. Our celebrants can even incorporate religious or secular items, such as readings and songs into your loved one’s funeral.
>>>Related Resource: Learn how to create a personalized tribute for a loved one with a certified celebrant.
Preplan Funeral Services to Document Personalization Elements
Which personalization items would you prefer at your own final arrangements? When you preplan, you can document personalization elements for your own funeral service to ensure everything is accounted for ahead of time. For more information on the emotional and financial benefits of preplanning, download The Seniors’ Guide to Funeral Arrangements: How Preplanning Can Save Time, Money and Worry.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2017, and has been updated to be more current and comprehensive.