Planning a Memorial Service

May 24, 2012

Planning a Memorial ServiceRemember that everyone grieves differently, and be gentle with each other! If your loved one was affiliated with a church, temple, lodge, or whatever, talk to them to see if they have a bereavement committee who can assist you.


Pictures can be wonderful, either a slide show or posters showing important times in the person's life; be selective! You don't want to include every photo from day one (unless it is for a small child) and bore people.

Music - recorded is fine, live is fine - whichever (or both) works for you and the space. Favorite songs of the deceased, or songs that make "you" feel better.

The most important thing I would suggest is to remember that the memorial service is supposed to help those who are left behind to put a framework around their grief, give it some substance, and allow others to support the family and loved ones in this hard time.

It is also quite permissible to have memorial services in several locations if the deceased person lived in different areas. Speak to the funeral home to see if they have an affiliate in the other area to assist with logistics there.

Source: A flood of funerals and memorial services of family and friends over the past few months, and lots of reading.

By Eileen M. from Elk Grove, CA

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4 Questions

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April 20, 2009

I recently lost my elderly parents and we're having a memorial service. I've never planned a memorial service before. Does anyone have any suggestions for what worked or didn't work well for your family? We've many family members coming in out of town and I can feel myself getting overwhelmed. Ideas for making a program for the service; an inexpensive keepsake; ways to make family feel involved; etc. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

By Maggie from VA


April 20, 20090 found this helpful

When my son was killed, I too, was overwhelmed. This is a normal feeling to have during a time such as this. I think you could let everyone help decide on music, maybe a favorite song or hymn, maybe pick out photographs of your parents to show at the service. I have a poem that was given to me, that I'd like to share with you. You could print it for a keepsake to share. You could also make a "Memory Jar". Just place a nice jar at the service, and write "Memory Jar" either on the jar or beside it. Place a stack of small note size (3"x3") papers, along with a pen, for family and friends to jot down a rememberance or a memory of your parents. This will be your "keepsake".



When I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do.
You mustn't tie yourself to me with tears,
Be thankful you have many more years.

I give to you my love. You can only guess
How much you gave to me in happiness...
I thank you for the love you each have shown,
But now it's time I traveled on alone.

So grieve a while for me, if grieve you must,
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It's only for a time that we must part,
So bless the memories within your heart.

I won't be far away, for life goes on.
So if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can't see or touch me, I'll be near
And if you listen with your heart, you'll hear
All my love around you soft and clear.

And then when you must come this way alone,
I'll greet you with a smile and say..."Welcome Home".

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April 25, 20090 found this helpful

When my Dad died, we had a memorial service. We had posters filled with pictures of him. We had a table set up with many.many of the things he liked candy, food, games, etc. We also had a book for people to write their thoughts. I ordered small sandwiches and other people brought dessert, fruit, cheese, etc.


There was a brief religious service and then people went into a room with chairs, tables and the food and pics and sat, talked, etc. It worked out very well. Any questions, email me.

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April 25, 20090 found this helpful

My mother in law recently died. Her children set up a board on an easel the funeral director provided and put pictures of her, everyone loved it. Also they took a bunch of pics of her and put them on a cd with pretty scenery and music. I then took that cd and bought 30 dvd-r's and copied it for everyone to have as a keepsake. Only cost me 15 dollars for the dvd-r's. And whatever they charged at the funeral home. Actually I think the first one was free, then you had to pay for extras.

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August 16, 2014

My husband of 25 years died recently, and I want to have a memorial for him. He had an avid interest in food; all aspects of it, growing, processing, cooking, storing, and eating. I thought a good way to celebrate his life would be to share a meal with his family and friends. He also loved hunting and fishing, and outdoors. My husband knew many people, but I have no way knowing how many might show up for the gathering. My finances are limited so I'm thinking of having the event on the beach. I need some help in figuring out the menu. I need some way to figure out what I can do that will enable me to feed a few to a mob, and not end up with a lot of waste. Can you recommend anything?

By KendraR


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August 20, 20170 found this helpful

sorry for your loss, and sorry that nobody answered this back when you asked in 2014.

when finances are an issue, what I would say is have a potluck. Maybe with a theme such as international, Mexican, meats, etc or a beach theme since it's on the beach.


Potlucks are a marvelous way to have a party without incurring excessive expense

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August 20, 20170 found this helpful

If you cannot afford to feed many people, make the main dish and have people bring in other dishes. You will also need paper goods, beverages and cutlery.

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May 9, 2012

I would like to have a memorial for my husband in his home town. The problem is that I don't have much money. I no longer live in Washington state, but across the border in Oregon. I have no car, but my son has Sunday off and can drive me there on that day. Any suggestions?

By Laura from Beaverton, OR


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May 11, 20120 found this helpful

Consider a gathering in a park, or other favourite place of your late husband's in his hometown. You could all share a potluck in the town park, and talk about your husband growing up in the town.


You could either purchase a short announcement on the obituary pages of the hometown newspaper (usually $1-$2 per line) telling people wishing to celebrate his memory when and where to gather. Or contact people by telephone, email, snail mail.

Attendees could relate a favourite memory of your husband; anyone with musical talent could volunteer to play or sing one or several of his favourite songs.

You could plant a tree (make sure to get permission if on public lands) in his memory as part of the memorial.

If you and he were religious, perhaps your pastor could say a few words, or family and friends could read verses from your chosen Book.

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May 11, 20120 found this helpful

Have a get together with family and friends in celebration of your husbands life, not to grieve his passing. Share good times, memories, onery times. The passing of a loved one shouldn't always have to be tears. I am sorry for your loss, my husband died 1 1/2 years ago and he would much rather us of had a good time in thoughts of him. Maybe have the "celebration" in a park or if available someones big back yard. Cook out, mingle, have fun. Unorthadox, maybe, affordable, yes, you still get to honor your husband and share time with family and friends.


This year in honor of my husband, my daughter, grandbabies, and I are going to release balloons with a card from the kids atttached, into heaven for their papa. My grandson and I saw this on a movie one time and he asked if we could do that for his papa. He was very close to the grandbabies, and this is something they will understand and he would love knowing they did this for him.

Again, I am sorry for your loss. God Bless you and your family.

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