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Is It Too Late to Plan a Memorial Service for My Loved One?

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When we lose a loved one, there’s an overwhelming number of decisions that need to be made. And oftentimes, it can be difficult making these decisions as we go through the stages of early, acute grief.

Instead of rushing to plan final arrangements in a few short days, it’s important to know you have the option of having a delayed memorial service.

Below we explain why it’s never too late to plan a memorial service for your loved one.

What Is a Memorial Service?

Similar to a funeral, a memorial service is a ceremony that honors the departed. The main difference between a funeral and memorial service is whether or not the deceased loved one is present. At a memorial service, you’ll likely see an urn or photograph of the individual rather than a casket.

Memorial services can take place several weeks or even months after an individual has passed, and can be held at a funeral home, place of worship, or another place of significance.

Many funeral and cremation providers offer personalization options as well, so families have the opportunity to make the memorial service as formal as they’d like. Some common elements of a memorial service include:

  • A video tribute with family photos.
  • Your loved one’s favorite music.
  • Special remarks from surviving family and friends.
  • Readings of poetry or bible verses.
  • A display of photos, awards and/or memorabilia.

>>> Related Resource: What’s the Difference Between a Wake, Funeral and Memorial Service?

It’s Common to Worry About Having a Delayed Memorial Service

Many people believe having a memorial service several months after a loss won’t be the same as having had it immediately after. You may feel like you’re the only one who cares to have a delayed memorial service or that it will bring the feelings of grief back to the surface for all involved.  

If any of these scenarios feel relatable, you’re not alone.

It’s important to keep in mind that no one has the authority to decide if and when it’s too late to have a memorial service for your lost loved one—only you can determine that.

Whether it was three weeks ago, seven months ago, or many years ago, our losses don’t just go away.

Benefits to Having a Delayed Memorial Service

Memorial services are about much more than the practical consideration of a recently lost loved one. Not only do they help give us closure that the loss really happened, but they also allow us to express our grief in a supportive place.

For some, missing out on final arrangements could be contributing to more severe grief than normal—this is why a delayed memorial service can be so beneficial for surviving loved ones. Some additional pros include:

  1. Time for people to attend who couldn’t otherwise, especially those who live out of town.
  2. Less pressure for the traditional format—it can be whatever feels right.
  3. More clear-headed for planning and actually remembering the event. It can oftentimes be a blur for those who have a service within the week of a death.
  4. More time for creativity and deciding on the right memorial service to honor the unique life lived.

Tips for Planning a Delayed Memorial Service

Once you’ve decided to have a delayed memorial service for your lost loved one, it’s time to begin planning. The following steps will help you plan a celebration of life to remember for years to come.

  • Choose a location: A memorial service can be held at the home of the person who has passed, church buildings, parks, community centers, funeral homes or even restaurants to pay their respects. It all comes down to the type of event you are going for and the amenities you’d like having.
  • Consider music: If you are at a location that accommodates the playing of music, take advantage of this opportunity. You might choose to play your loved one’s favorite song or another piece of music that ties to their life in a special way.
  • Create a video tribute: If you are at a location that has this technical capability, play a slideshow in honor of your loved one’s life journey. You can choose to include photos and/or videos of important life events, places and people that shaped their life.
  • Consider food and drinks: Many memorial services offer some kind of food. Some services include full meals, while others offer light snacks. Again, this comes down to the type of event you are going for.
  • Create the guest list: If the memorial service is being held weeks or months after the loss, be sure to list everyone who you would like to attend. It’s important to send invitations out enough time in advance so those who live far away have time to make travel arrangements.

Delayed Memorial Service Checklist

It’s never too late to plan a memorial service and you can do so with ease using our free funeral planning checklist. Inside we provide you with the necessary steps and answer the most common questions we hear as you embark on planning final arrangements. Click here to download your copy.

Download our funeral planning checklist

Meghan Burmeister
Meghan Burmeister
Skillfully and compassionately manages our Avon and Avon Lake locations. Meghan and her husband, Bill, enjoy vacations with their son Otto, while also supporting community, church and school events. Graciously serving Busch families since 1998.

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