This particular story happened in 1994 and is about a friend in California, Tina. She knew I was arranging ‘After Funeral Parties’ for several funeral homes in the area. Tina’s grandmother had passed away peacefully at home and she wanted to have the Funeral, at her house instead of a Funeral Home. And because I was dating a Mortician, she asked me to assist her.
I’d like to share some insights into making the funeral event more unique and memorable. People do not like to talk about it but the family is often lost when it comes to organizing a funeral.
Contrary to the wedding industry, funeral events typically lack style. The funeral industry has evolved but it is still not stylish and the choices are still very limited. So, Tina decided to hire me.
I was responsible to design the funeral theme, source more sophisticated supplies, and decorate the room. I supervised the event to make sure every detail was handled properly. This way, the family could spend quality time with the people who came to give their respect. You could say that I did the job of a wedding planner but for a funeral. Unlike a wedding, a funeral has to be done in a matter of days. So it is best to learn the basics before you need to plan a funeral.
What is a “Home Funeral?”
While today it isn’t common to have a home funeral, there is a growing movement to hold home funerals. A home funeral can help relieve the feeling of helplessness by being directly involved in caring for the person who died – especially in the case of a sudden death where there was no time to say goodbye.
On average, a home funeral can cost less than $1000. These costs do not consider the cost for disposition of the body, such as cremation or burial. You can always call your local Funeral Home for guidance and legal rights, most are happy to assist you with concerns.
Memorial Pictures and Funeral Photos (before technology days)
Showing photographs of your loved one is a beautiful and personable begin a memorial service. You can ask guests to bring copies of their favorite photos to a memorial service as a gift for the family. They can be displayed on a memory board and, after the service is over, can be put in an album as a nice keepsake. Be sure to have enough easels (or shelves) available to show them off.
The best funerals are the ones that celebrate the life of the deceased. A funeral is a time to say adieu but also to remember someone’s life. Grandma’s were notorious for storing a gorgeous handkerchief in their pocketbook. So, why not distribute custom handkerchiefs at a funeral? Though when I did, I wasn’t sure if I could order and receive them in short notice for the wake. Rush delivery is the main issue when you plan for a funeral. And you can coordinate the same theme with handmade thank you cards. Even conservative guests commented to the family how personal the thank you cards were and the festivities. Look at your pictures of vacations and happy times to find the right ones.
Personalize the Ceremony and Celebrations
From my experiences, the immediate family gets more comfort when we remembered what the departed did in his/her life. Forgo the cliché mountain, lake, and sky pictures. Instead, print something that symbolizes a passion, a life philosophy, or a point of the character on your gifts to the guests. Be creative, you want people to share a nice memory about the deceased.
Delay the Event
Having a beautiful personalized funeral takes time. If possible, opt for a less busy time of the week. Monday is ideal. You get a more dedicated service from the funeral home and people from out of town can still attend. If the late was still working, more coworkers will show up. A ceremony Saturday afternoon at 2 pm is the worst; everything is rushed by the funeral homes.