Personalizing Services

When planning a service, it’s helpful to think of the unique qualities of the recently deceased and create a service that honors those traits. A personalized funeral will be memorable for friends and family and provide a feeling of closure knowing that the life your loved one has been truly celebrated.

When searching for ways to personalize a funeral service, remember the moments you spent with the person and try to highlight the qualities that she or he are remembered for. Consider hobbies, subjects of interest and places where the person spent much of his or her time. It can help to make lists of their passions, achievements and memories you shared together. There are a number of ways that these lists can be incorporated into a service:

Photos and albums – There are many opportunities to display photos at a funeral service. A projector can be used to display a picture or slideshow of the recently deceased during the procession. Photographs can be included in the program or on keepsakes.

Videos – A video of the deceased or in memory of the deceased is a moving way to share their life with others. A composite of homemade videos or a video tribute that features music, images and video can often communicate what words are unable to.

Artwork – Artwork of the deceased or art created in tribute is a beautiful addition to a service. Sculptures, a slideshow of drawings or displaying artwork throughout the funeral home helps people learn more about a life that was cherished.

Music – Live or pre-recorded music enhances a service and provides a moving addition. Some ways to use music in the service include:

  • Create a mix of the deceased’s favorite music
  • Hire musicians to play live music
  • Play music the deceased wrote
  • Encourage musical friends and family members to perform

Readings of poetry and literature –Passages from the deceased’s favorite books or poems that capture the essence of life help create a service infused with wisdom and words to remember. You can also invite friends and family members to read passages or poems of their choice or write their own pieces to share.

Clothing worn by the deceased – A simple way to make a service more personal is by dressing the deceased in clothes that were significant to their life. For example, if the deceased was passionate about their work, their work uniform would complement the service. Another example would be if they were passionate about a sport, he or she could be dressed in their own jersey or the jersey of their favorite player.

Customized funeral programs – The program handed to friends and family as they enter the service provides an easy opportunity to personalize a service. Use the program to display words of wisdom, photographs and/or memories of the deceased.

Food – Serving the favorite foods and/or beverages of the deceased is an endearing way to share their uniqueness with friends and family. You can serve their favorite dishes after the service or hand out something during the service.

Memory readings/book – A classic way to remember the deceased is to ask friends and families to share memories. Attendees can write them down in a collective book or on notecards to be collected. Friends and family can read their memories aloud as a part of the service.

Release of balloons or butterflies – An enchanting addition to a service is the release of balloons or butterflies. Many companies are available to help provide these services. Balloons can be released with personal information imprinted on them or with something personal attached to them.

Dove release - A dove release is a potent symbol during a funeral service because the doves used in releases are trained to fly away home.

Bagpipes – Bagpipe music has roots in traditional Irish and Scottish funerals, but gradually became a tradition for firefighters and police officers. These days, bagpipes are commonly integrated into a service, playing tunes such as “Amazing Grace” and “Danny Boy”. They add a solemn, moving touch that is loved by many.

Motorcycle motorcade – Motorcycle lovers can receive a send-off that celebrates their love of bikes. Motorcycle hearses are made specifically for bikers’ funerals and many funeral homes offer a complete motorcade of bikes.

Distribute keepsakes – Distribute keepsake items to friends and families that honor the deceased in a special way. Possibilities include prayer cards, candles, and ornaments.

Cards that can be planted – The paper of these cards is compostable and embedded with seeds, ready to be planted. Each time you see the flowers in bloom, you’ll be reminded of your loved one.

Display of personal items – A common method for placing focus on the unique qualities of the deceased is to set up a display of their most cherished possessions. Items that were part of a collection, creative expressions or any items that provide some physical reminder of his or her personality are a great way to try to tell their story.

Meaningful floral arrangements – Choose the deceased’s favorite flowers or flowers that have a special meaning. For example, dahlias signify elegance and dignity.

Celebration of cherished personality traits – If the deceased was known for a particular personality trait, find a way to incorporate it into the service. For example, have friends and family take a moment to hug each other in honor of an affectionate person.

Customized casket corners – Casket corners can be easily customized so that the casket is decorated with a symbol that is meaningful to the deceased and loved ones.

Engravings – Engravings displayed on a grave monument, marker, urn, casket or vault provide a personal, dignified reminder of the deceased that will last for generations to come.

Plant a memorial tree or other type of plant – Planting a tree, shrub or flowers in honor of the deceased is a lovely way to symbolize the circle of life.

Erect a statue, fountain or other memorial structure – Many people choose to erect a monument or dedicate a structure to their lost loved one. Creating a plaque that commemorates the person’s life in a place they loved is a touching way to say goodbye.

A personalized funeral service touches friends and families and celebrates a life well-lived. To learn more about how to plan a personalized service, give us a call and we will help you plan a unique and meaningful life celebration.

About Cunningham Funeral Home

Serving families of St. Louis, MO in the same manner we would want to be served. Treating loved ones with the same dignity and respect we would want our loved one to receive. Creating meaningful and unique Life Honoring Tributes as unique as the loved one we are honoring.

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