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5 Ways to Create a Personalized Memorial Service

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Conversations about end-of-life planning can be uncomfortable and overwhelming. A lot of people have an irrational fear that if they talk about death it’s more likely to happen. As a result, a certain level of apprehension may exist when it comes to approaching the topic. But the earlier you can start these conversations, the better, as the anxiety and stress that come when the end of life is imminent can make it far more difficult for seniors and their families to plan accordingly.

A good way to start the conversation is by expressing preferences for the type of funeral services that would best reflect a life. Ask senior loved ones their wishes, or tell your own adult children what you want.

According to Jay Branton, managing director of Dignity Memorial® in Eastern Canada, “Adding personal touches does not make the service any less respectful, but it gives people a sense of belonging and inclusiveness. As more people look to create memorial services that fit their specific desires, we are definitely seeing a rise in non-traditional funerals and more people wanting their memorial to celebrate their life rather than just focus on mourning.”

Dignity Memorial offers a downloadable guide called the Imagine Book that helps individuals and families create a funeral service that reflects the spirit of the person and their life. From Dignity Memorial’s Imagine Book, here are five things to consider when planning a personalized memorial:

1. Music

To set the stage for a truly distinctive event, start by selecting the music. Ask your loved one what kind of music they really love. Would they prefer live or recorded music at their funeral, or a combination of the two? Do they prefer jazz or classical? Remember to ask them their favourite song and whether they would like to have it played during the service.

2. Formal or Casual Themes

Discuss with your loved one what kind of atmosphere they want to create for their service. Do they want people to mix and mingle graveside while sharing stories of your loved one’s life? Or would they prefer something more traditional, such as a formal service in a house of worship?

3. Flowers

Nearly every flower has a special meaning. Red roses symbolize love, gardenias joy, and jasmine grace. The right flowers can capture a person’s style and personality, and really set the tone for the whole service. They also show that extra thought and care were given in reverence to the deceased’s memory.

4. Mementos

Does your senior loved one have a collection they’d like to share or a fitting forget-me-not? A memento is a little something for guests to take home with them to remember the person they lost. This could be something as simple as a best-loved recipe or more elaborate like custom CDs with the person’s favourite music.

5. Capturing their Story

What is your loved one passionate about? If they’re a gardener, perhaps plan to hold an outdoor service and hand out custom seed packets to guests. Or if they have a sports car that they loved more than anything, plan to have the ceremony outside where it can be incorporated into the remembrance.

An effort to make a loved one’s funeral ceremony unique and personal is a respectful and loving way to both celebrate who they were as an individual and to mourn their loss. You don’t have to be afraid to break tradition and plan something that reflects their personality and the unique and special life that they lived.

Additional Resources:

Funeral or Celebration? How Services Have Changed
How to Begin the Final Wishes Conversation
Compose Your Life SongSM Music Generator

Last revised: February 23, 2018

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