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Planning a Funeral

The Role of Pallbearers at a Funeral

 Having pallbearers at a funeral is a common tradition among many religions; however,manymay not be familiarwith this practice—especially if one has never attended a funeral service before. Pallbearers are individuals who are respected by the deceased and may have had a close relationship to him or her. These individuals are chosen—either in preplanning by the departed or their loved ones—to escort the casket or coffin in church and to carry the casket to the burial site. For many, this ritual carries great significance and offers closure to the surviving family members. Who Can Be a Pallbearer? Although the numbers can vary, typically six to eight individuals are asked to be Active pallbearers. Pallbearers are generally adults that may have had any type of relationship with the deceased. These selected individuals can range from family members to neighbors and from close friends to business partners. While many may associate men as pallbearers, women can also be asked to fulfill this role. Generally, it is best not to use immediate family members unless this is something they wish to do for the deceased. Pallbearer Etiquette It is often a great honor to be asked to serve as a pallbearer in a burial, and in most cases, individuals should accept this role if asked.When unable to attend the service—whether ill or unable to travel—it may be possible to be an honorary pallbearer. In terms of how to dress, pallbearers will wear typical funeral attire—such as a dark suit and tie. Options for Pallbearer Gifts Providing a gift is a great way to say “thank you” and allow pallbearers to commemorate their own experience in the service. Some ideas for pallbearer gifts include: Individuals may select a uniform photograph placed in a nice silver frame to give to all pallbearers, as a way for them to capture the memory of the deceased. If possible, some may choose to personalize each gift by providing each pallbearer with a unique framed photo that captures his or her relationship with the deceased. Those who want to do something special for the pallbearers’ service may choose to select a customized gift for each individual. Apart from photographs, these tokens of appreciation may include simple jewelry pieces, pressed flowers from the funeral or an inscribed memorial plaque. Somemay even choose to gift something of the deceased that correlates to his or her relationship with the pallbearer, such as a book ormusic album. Although it is customary for pallbearers to send thank you notes to the surviving members of the family, those planning the funeral should also consider writing a message to honor the service of these individuals. There is no standard for pallbearer gifts, but those who opt to provide them should make sure that the gesture is meaningful and honors the service—even if just a small token of gratitude.... read more

Tips for Planning Your Own Funeral

 Planning your own funeral is an important way for you to ensure that the service happens exactly as you’d like it to. It can also significantly reduce the levels of stress endured by your friends and family after your passing, as they already know exactly how to proceed. Regardless of whether you are completely physically fit or not, it is always a wise idea to attend to this sort of planning well in advance. Some of the components you’ll want to address as you begin funeral planning for yourself include: The viewing This is when friends and family have some time to sit peacefully with the body. It typically happens in a funeral home, but can also happen at a house of worship or your home. The wake The wake is a time to gather together to celebrate the life of a person who has passed. This gathering is typically an important part of the mourning process, and allows friends and family members to provide comfort to one another. The wake can happen at a family home or a funeral home. The funeral The funeral itself is a memorial ceremony that typically occurs in a house of worship or a funeral home. The body is usually present, either in an open or closed casket. There are no rules for a funeral, so you are free to shape the service as you see fit. If you are religious, you may want to have a service that’s full of prayer. If you served in the armed forces, you may opt for a military funeral. Other people prefer to keep the service non-denominational, and simply use it as a time for family and friends to grieve together. A memorial ceremony A memorial ceremony is another alternative if you are not totally comfortable with the idea of a formal funeral service. Memorials typically happen a few months after the person has passed, and the body is not present. Instead of prayers and religious rites, the memorial service is a place for family members and friends to commemorate the life and accomplishments of the person who passed. Various people can eulogize the deceased, and explain what this person meant to them. If you wish to plan an after-death service, you’ll want to make your wishes are explicitly clear to the people who will be tasked with executing these arrangements once you have passed. Some of the details you will need to hammer out include: The location of the gathering/service The type of service Who should be invited Who should facilitate the ceremonies Who will speak Whether the body will be present, and whether the casket will be open or closed Any specific jewelry or clothing you would like placed on your body Who will serve as pallbearers (when necessary) Whether you would like a special picture or other items displayed with you Any special readings or music that you would like featured Whether you will ask survivors to send donations to a charity of your choice Information about special music, readings, food or drink, and other details Your surviving family members and friends will take comfort in knowing that they are executing the after-death services exactly as you had wished, and you can relax knowing that the arrangements will be handled in a way... read more

5 Things Everyone Should Know About Planning a Funeral

 Planning a funeral for yourself or for a loved one requires organization in the midst of grief and sadness.  Consult these guidelines on the most important elements of funeral planning that you and your loved ones should know. 1.)   Prearranging provides you or your loved one with the opportunity to become informed about the plethora of options regarding the funeral or cremation service. No two services are alike, and individuals can choose to showcase videos, photographs, music, special readings or any other involved elements with family and friends. 2.)   Prearranging ensures that you document your wishes. A living will may cover medical treatment, but there are still funeral costs. You can remove some of the burden for someone making decisions who may not be aware of your wishes. 3.)   Prepaying ahead of time eases future financial burden. It may benefit your surviving loved ones to prepay for your funeral or cremation services, as the costs of the products and services you choose may never be lower. Prearranging makes financial sense.   We have many choices for payment plans. 4.)   Begin the process by writing down your personal information or your loved one’s information. Write down important information to keep on hand as you plan the service, like social security number, ethnicity, religion, residence, birth information and so on. Having this information is helpful throughout the funeral planning process. 5.)   Selecting individuals to be a part of the funeral service in advance takes away some of the emotional burden. You are able to select readers, performers and other individuals to be a part of the service in advance. Contact us for further insight, and we will be glad to assist you with your prearrangement process.  ... read more

Understanding Funeral Rites

 Funeral rites are an important part of honoring someone who has passed away. The ways in which a group of people executes these rites vary depending on the person’s religion, as well as that faith’s belief about life after death. Why do funeral rites matter? Funeral rites are important because they show respect for the dead. They also give that person’s loved ones a chance to mourn and express their grief. Many people feel that expressing their grief in a formal way is an important part of the healing process. In some religions, these rites are also believed to be necessary in order to ensure that the person makes it to the afterlife successfully. Christian funeral rites The rites performed during a Christian burial will vary slightly depending on the sect of the religion to which a person belongs. In some forms of Christianity, a priest or minister will come to the person’s bedside as they are dying in order to help them prepare for death. In the Roman Catholic faith, a priest will also anoint that person with holy oil in order to get them ready to pass on. This is known as Last Rites. In Christianity, a person who has died is placed in a coffin. In some instances, this coffin will be left open, giving friends and relatives a chance to say their goodbyes. This coffin is then taken to the church where the funeral will take place. During this time, the clergy will offer comforting words, as well as thoughts about what that person meant to those who loved them. In Roman Catholicism, there will be a special Eucharist called a Requiem Mass, where people say prayers for the deceased’s soul. Buddhist rites It is traditional for a Buddhist to be cremated after they die. Prior to the cremation process, a white cloth is often offered to the relatives of the dead. The deceased person will be outfitted in simple clothing, and the service itself should be peaceful and simple too. In many instances a monk will perform the Buddhist rites, though family members may also preside over the services themselves. Muslim rites In Islam, people believe that a person’s life does not end after death. Therefore, those who honor the dead spend a significant amount of time praying for a happy eternal life for that individual. Muslims bury the deceased as soon as possible, thereby avoiding having to use methods of preservation. Cremation is forbidden. When someone dies in the Islamic faith, family members and community members wash the body and cover it in a clean, white cloth. The deceased is then taken to the funeral location, which is typically outdoors. Jewish rites During a traditional Jewish burial, the body is washed and purified, and then placed in burial clothes. Burial must occur as soon as possible after death, and cremation is typically not an option. The person who has passed is wrapped in a sheet and a prayer shawl. Once prayers are said, the mourners in attendance step forward and add a shovel full of soil into the grave. Though many faiths from around the world rely on the same principles in order to send their dead into a peaceful afterlife, the rites and traditions vary from religion to religion.... read more

Understanding the Idea Behind a Non-denominational Funeral Service

 When a person who has passed away didn’t follow one particular religion or faith, a non-denominational funeral can prove to be the most appropriate way to honor that person’s life. Instead of focusing on religious texts during the ceremony, the family can choose to take a more humanistic approach. This makes for a poignant funeral, even without a religious element. Even if the person who passed did loosely follow a religion, it is becoming increasingly common for families to use a non-denominational service in order to honor their loved one and commemorate their life. If you’re hoping to have a non-denominational service for someone you care about, keep these tips in mind: Choose your location carefully It is certainly possible to have a non-denominational service in a house of worship, however many people feel more comfortable hosting the ceremony in a funeral home. If you don’t feel comfortable having a member of the clergy presiding over the service, you may ask the funeral director to perform the service. Many people also find it special to have close friends or family members deliver eulogies during the ceremony. In a non-denominational service, the focus is less on traditional prayers and shifts more to the words and sentiments of people who loved the deceased. This human, emotional touch is something that many people find appealing. It is also possible to incorporate a few traditional prayers and hymns, while still keeping the focus on the concrete ways in which that person touched lives. If you don’t feel comfortable asking those in attendance to participate in a prayer during the service, a moment of silence will be sufficient. This allows everyone to reflect on what the deceased meant to them, without forcing a religious element into a non-denominational service. If you find words from religious texts comforting but still would prefer to have a non-denominational service, you can incorporate religious texts from a variety of different faiths. There is no rule that says that if you include verses from the Bible, then the service must have a decidedly Christian feel to it. You can read a verse from the Bible, then incorporate a part of a Buddhist text, and finish with a traditional Jewish prayer. Pick and choose the elements that you find most relevant, and create a service that feels comforting and warm to you. When it comes to religious references during a non-denominational service, there is no need to feel as if you have to reference God, Jesus, or any other element of traditional religion in order to honor the person who has passed. You can simply make reference to finding peace in the afterlife and being commemorated in the hearts of loved ones. If your loved one was not particularly religious, it is still possible to have a beautiful and meaningful ceremony, without a heavy religious presence. Using eulogies from loved ones and inspirational readings, it is easy to honor your loved one’s life during a non-denominational ceremony.... read more

The Difference Between Jewish and Christian Funerals

 Traditions surrounding funerals vary from religion to religion, so before you attend a service you should have some idea about what to expect. What is viewed as respectful in one religion may be considered offensive in another. This is why some careful research is necessary so that you can honor the deceased without inadvertently causing an issue. Christian services Christian funerals are typically centered on the ideas of eternal life and resurrection for the soul through the acceptance of Jesus Christ. A Christian funeral may incorporate some or all of the following elements: Readings, hymns, and prayers Incorporation of Eucharist, Mass, or Holy Communion (in Catholicism) Focusing on the idea of life beyond the grave through the power of God Special prayers as the body is buried Other common elements during a Christian funeral service include: A call to worship (typically with a scripture reading) An opening hymn A prayer to comfort the bereaved A confession of sin An affirmation of faith In most cases, families choose to have a funeral (where the body is present) as opposed to a memorial service where it is not. Historically, Christian services were known for their somber tones, however that has begun to shift in recent years. Some people now choose to position a funeral as a joyous celebration of life that incorporates much more brightness than in years past. However, some families still prefer to stick to somber tones and wearing dark clothing. There are no set rules in the faith about what the tone of the service should be. Jewish funerals Jewish funerals are typically held within 24 hours of the person’s death, except in an unusual situation where family members must travel especially long distances to attend. The synagogue will typically play a major role in preparing for the service, including getting the funeral arrangements together and preparing the body. Jewish funerals are heavily focused on traditions and rituals, and usually center on the immediate family members of the deceased. It is common for Jewish people to be buried instead of cremated, as traditional Jewish law defines cremation as desecration of the body. In many instances, a Jewish person will be buried in a simple pine coffin. After the burial is complete, many traditional Jewish families head home to sit Shiva and receive visitors. The period of mourning lasts for a year after the person’s death. Regardless of the kind of service you are attending, it is important to have some perspective and understanding about what will go on at the funeral. When you know what to expect and what is and is not appropriate, it makes it easier for you to support the family and honor the person who has died without accidentally causing offense.... read more

Popular Funeral and Memorial Service Songs

 No two funerals or memorial services are alike, and therefore, individuals planning their own funerals or the service for a loved one should keep personalization in mind. There are several ways to personalize a funeral or memorial service to fully and adequately celebrate and honor the life of a deceased friend or family member. Music is an important part of the funeral or memorial, and many people find comfort during their darkest hour as songs celebrating the lives of the deceased can often serve as a beacon of hope. Appropriate music is an excellent tribute to the deceased individual, and there are many suggestions and resources available for those planning a funeral. Religious themed songs Popular funeral or memorial service songs categorized as religious or spiritual include multiple versions of the following: Amazing Grace Ave Marie Be Not Afraid Come As You Are Psalm 23 The Lord is My Shepherd Hallelujah “Vocal” Classic songs For more “old time” secular and classic songs, individuals frequently choose the following: As Time Goes By – Louis Armstrong My Way – Frank Sinatra Unforgettable – Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole We’ll Meet Again – Vera Lynn Modern favorites For funeral or memorial service planners, more modern song selections may be more suitable, such as the following: A Mother’s Prayer – Celine Dion Angels – Robbie Williams Because You Loved Me – Celine Dion Fields of Gold – Eva Cassidy On Eagles Wings – Josh Groban Stairway to Heaven – Led Zepplin Classical songs More classical or popular instrumental selections include: Canon – Pachelbel Claire de Lune – Claude Debussy Funeral March – Beethoven Fur Elise – Beethoven Prelude in C minor – Chopin  Sheep May Safely Graze – J.S. Bach The Lark Ascending – Vaughan Williams... read more

Understanding the Difference between Funeral and Memorial Services

 As cultural norms continue to change, the way we handle the passing of loved ones also evolves. Today, there are many ways that people choose to celebrate the lives of those they care about, leading some to question the true difference between funeral services and memorial services. With the introduction of new traditions and burial practices, many professionals may use the terms “funeral” and “memorial” interchangeably. However, there are some key differences that are worth noting if you are attending or planning a funeral or memorial service. Remains Funerals are generally held with the presence of the deceased at the funeral home or religious center where the service is held. After the service, these remains are often buried at a determined gravesite. Funerals also have grown to incorporate cremated remains that are generally presented in an urn, which are then buried, scattered or placed in an above ground columbarium located at a cemetery. Memorial services may sometimes have cremated remains of the deceased present, but typically are reserved for instances where the individual has passed and their remains were not available. For example, the lives of individuals who died overseas while missing or in combat may often be remembered without the presence of the deceased at the service. Timing Funerals traditionally occur soon after the passing of an individual, sometimes days after one has passed away. As cremation becomes a more popular option, many have found that there is more available time to create a flexible ceremony. As such, many professionals within the industry have witnessed memorial services that occur weeks or months after the deceased has actually passed away. Location Funerals are generally held at funeral homes or religious facilities that can accommodate such services. Once these services conclude, they are often followed by graveside burials that are either located at on-site burial grounds or off-site cemeteries. While modern burials may involve either cremated remains or caskets containing the deceased, funeral services still typically refer to burials that occur at cemeteries. Memorial services, however, present greater flexibility as to where services are held. For instance, some may prefer to celebrate the life of a loved one through a memorial service held at a specific place of interest or home of a relative. In addition, memorial services may involve a ceremonial act—such as scattering of ashes—presenting more versatility as to where the event takes place.... read more


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