Arranging a Memorial for a Loved One – Ideas and Information
What is a Memorial?
A memorial can be an object which serves as a focus for the memory of something, normally to remember a deceased person, an event in history or an event in someone’s life. Memorials can be landmark objects, sculptures, statues, Trees, fountains, benches or parks, the list is endless.
The most common memorial that people think of is a headstone at a grave, memorial plaque or memorial service.
War memorials are also common, remembering those who have fought and died in wars across the world.
Online memorials are now being created using the internet on websites and social media which allows access to a person or event to anyone in the world who wants to search for it.
Sometimes when a person dies a memorial gift may be given to the family as a tribute to the person who has passed and a mark of respect. Families often request that a memorial gift of money is given to a designated charity that is close to your heart and their life as a legacy for them, this is often requested instead of funeral or memorial service flowers.
Often a tree is planed in memory of a person and this happens at woodland cemeteries where peoples loved ones are buried.
What is a Memorial Service?
A Memorial Service is a service held to remember a deceased person when their body isn’t present. Often burials and cremations take place first as they can be distressing and a memorial service is held after so that family members and friends can focus on celebrating a persons life.
If a person has been cremated and a service is held with the ashes present it is considered a Memorial Service.
What is the difference between a Memorial and Funeral Service?
A Funeral Service is a service held to remember a deceased person with their body present.
A Memorial Service is a service held to remember a deceased person with their body not being present.
A service that is held after the cremation with the ashes present is considered a Memorial Service.
A service that is held after a burial is considered a Memorial Service.
What is the difference between a memorial service and a celebration of life?
A memorial service is very much like a celebration of life and they are both much less formal with less tradition than a funeral.
The service remembers the person who has passed with eulogies, songs, poems, photos and music compared to a funeral which may include religious reading and hymns as well.
How do you decide between a Memorial and Funeral Service?
When a loved one has passed they may have already made their funeral plans or talked to their family about them. If not then family members and close friends should talk to find out what they think they would have preferred most. A memorial is much less traditional than a funeral service although still can be arranged around your wishes and what you think your loved one would have liked.
What happens at a memorial service?
A Memorial Service is a service held to remember a deceased person with their body not being present. You may decide to have their favourite music playing as people walk into and out of the service. You might have several family members and friends talk about the person who has passed, their life, their achievements and their happy and sometimes funny memories of them. You might have photos displayed around the memorial venue or a projector showing images of them, their life and their loves. Someone might read a poem or a verse from their favourite song. All of this is dependent on theirs and their families wishes and thoughts on memorial services.
When should a memorial service be held?
Memorial services are normally held a week or two after a person has passed away. They can be held at any time that is convenient or significant to you and when your chosen funeral director and venue have availability. Many people hold memorial services in the weeks following the death, and can also hold memorial services on the anniversary of the death or remember and celebrate their life again with their family and friends around them.
What is the purpose of a memorial service?
A memorial service allows families and friends to comfort and support each other during an extremely difficult time whilst remembering the person they loved. Leaning on loved ones who share your pain and sadness often gives strength and hope for the future as well as offering a sense of closure. The grief and feelings don’t just go away after a memorial service, in fact, it is often when the grief fully starts as you don’t have the organisation of the service to focus on.
Why is a memorial service important?
Memorial services remember and honour the deceased and their life: It offers a safe place for family members and friends to talk about the deceased and remember the good times they had as well as opening up grief amongst them. If people are struggling to come to terms with a loved one passing then the reality of a memorial service really helps. People often feel free to show their emotions and seek support from the close people around them at a memorial service.
Do you take flowers to a memorial service?
Flowers are a beautiful and bright gift to remember a loved one or friend. They help make the venue where the service is held look beautiful and they can be prepared ahead of time with a local florist.
What makes a Memorable Memorial Service?
When you lose a loved one it is an extremely stressful and difficult time for the family and friends that are left. They have the enormity and daunting task of arranging a memorable service at a time when they are in shock and grieving. Trying to think clearly about what your loved one would want is difficult and challenging so you need close people around you to help you make decisions which you normally wouldn’t need help and support with.
Personalisation makes a memorial service memorable and often help loved ones feel like they have achieved something for the person they have lost. It gives you and everyone who attends the service a chance to celebrate their life, and give you lasting memories that you will look back on forever.
Take some time away to think about and talk about the person you have lost; what they loved, who they loved, what they achieved in their life, personally and in their career, how they helped others in their life, what were their hobbies and interests, what made them laugh the most, what music or poems did they love. All of this will help you start to decide what you want to talk about and who you want to talk about them at the memorial service.
If there were certain flowers that they loved then this may help you decide on the funeral flowers you want. You may want to play their favourite music when people are entering and leaving the venue. It really is amazing how music can make people smile and bring back wonderful memories.
A good and experienced funeral director will give you some ideas and suggestions for service as well as having contacts and relationships for flowers, caterers, venues, stationery suppliers and so on.
Personal touches will make your loved one’s memorial service memorable to you and everyone attending, and as time goes on you will look back on it with cherished memories as your grief lessens.
Memorial Service Ideas
A Memory Tree is a great way to ask the guests at your memorial service to write their favourite memories and stories of your loved one and you can take these home and add to a memory tree or ask someone to do this at the service for you. A memory tree will give you comfort at difficult times as it is lovely to read the memories of your loved one from others.
A Memorial Stone Station is where guests to the memorial service can write their name on the stones, messages and memories of your loved one. This can help the guests with their grief and you can put them in a place in your home, garden or a meaningful place after the memorial service which will give a place to go for comfort in the days, weeks months, years after they have passed.
A Memory Table can be set up to show the different aspects and times in your loved one’s life. You might have photos, letters, medals, trophies, flowers, plants, pictures, artwork and anything that remembers them. It is also a lovely idea to ask the guests to bring something to put on the table that represents the person’s life you are celebrating.
Tree or Plant Seeds are a wonderful way for guests to pay tribute to your loved one. Everyone can take a seed and plant it at home in honour and memory of them. When you visit them after the service it is lovely to see where they have been planted and how they are growing and establishing in their homes.
If you beloved loved a particular brand or make of sweets or chocolates then you can pass these out as people are coming into or leaving the service. I bet the people that were close to your loved one will remember them eating them at some point in their life. You can attach a message to the sweets or chocolate and thank them for coming to support you and remember them with you.
About MW Funeral Services
MW Funeral Services have over 25 years of funeral experience and understand the compassion and support needed when arranging a memorial or funeral service.
Our personal service begins from the time we first meet with you and we can help you with the legal notices and certificates that are required as well as all of the aspects of arranging a personal send off for your loved one.
We will help you with the arrangement of flowers, stationery, venues, catering, headstones and so forth and our job is to make the process as least daunting and difficult for you as possible. We are an independent and professional Funeral Directors and will show you compassion and kindness to support you through a very difficult time.
On the day of the funeral, we will discreetly ensure the day runs smoothly and as you have planned. We will lead the arrangements in the background and make sure there are no hitches. We will be responsible for transporting your loved one’s body from our premises your service, burial or cremation in a hearse or limousine and we will be at the venue to coordinate the movement of traffic, welcome and seat guests, distribute orders of service, carry the coffin if you wish, arrange the logistics of any music or photos you may have chosen and will arrange the movement of any flowers.
No matter what your faith or non-faith, we will be there to advise and support you through this difficult time. We will spend as much time with you as you need and ensure your send-off is as you want and a personal tribute to your loved one.
Martyn Lenthall is the content writer for MW Funeral Directors and updates our blog regularly with helpful advice and new information.