Losing a loved one is always difficult. But alongside the pain of loss is the opportunity to remember – to reflect on your loved one’s life and everything they meant to you, in the way they would have wanted. We aim to inform you of the available choices when planning a funeral service and how you can personalise and enrich the day, creating a ceremony that reflects the personal beliefs and philosophies of the deceased. A funeral ceremony can take place not only in a church, crematorium or by the graveside, but in a variety of alternative venues such as a football or rugby club, on private land or in a local hotel.
The content of the service
When a Minister of Religion or Civil Celebrant has been selected to lead the service for you, they will usually guide you through the process of planning the content of the service.
A Church of England service would usually follow a standard order to include hymns, eulogies, a bible reading, psalms and prayers including the Lord’s Prayer and a blessing and commendation. Depending on the minister conducting the service you may have a level of input around music and readings and it would be desirable for you to meet to discuss the content of the service beforehand.
Alternative Christian denominations and other religions have their own specific format and rituals and we can guide you through these and put you in touch with the appropriate religious leaders such as a Captain in the Salvation Army or an Imam from a mosque.
When a Civil Celebrant leads a ceremony, you usually have a lot more flexibility in planning the service and choice of music and readings, with many opportunities to personalise the service or incorporate a tangible act such as the lighting of candles or writing messages, or gifting funeral favours to the attendees. You may wish to have an element of religion in the service such as the singing of a hymn or a time for reflection and private prayer. The service can be religious or non-religious or a fusion of the two.
For a Humanist funeral there can be no religious content at all, and a Humanist celebrant would work with you to decide the format that you would like the service to follow.
Whether the service is religious or not, spiritual ceremonies can be created according to family wishes and it is also possible for a family member or close friend to conduct the ceremony.
We work closely with all of the above people and can recommend people and venues that we feel would best suit your requirements. We also have contacts for soloists and musicians and can assist with arranging a dove release or collating a commemorative presentation of photographs and videos to play during the service or afterwards when refreshments may be served.
Service Sheets and printing
Once the content of the service has been decided upon, we can produce the printed Orders of Service to a bespoke design to fit in with any design theme or colour scheme and incorporate photographic images, logos, awards or other information that helps to give a representation of the life that has been lived.
We will liaise with the person leading the service to agree the content and are happy to email a draft copy for proof reading. It is helpful to have as much information as we can as early as we can, particularly if we need to crop or edit photographs. Our cut off point for agreeing a final draft is 2 clear working days prior to the funeral in order to allow time for professional printing.
We can also assist with formal printed invitations to the funeral and thanks, and we can return cards afterwards.
You may wish to appoint one or more people to talk about your loved one during the funeral service. This is called a eulogy and often includes funny stories, things they respected about the deceased, their values and things that were important to them. It is important the person you appoint is confident to speak publicly and is aware of the emotions that they may be experiencing on the day of the service. You could appoint different people to talk about different aspects of the life that has been lived, such as a family member and a work colleague, but it is important that they touch base with each other and make sure they don’t either cover the same ground or miss important elements that you know you want to be included.
If you like some help in writing an eulogy, please see our helpful guide.
Recording those present at the service
We offer a service called ‘taking names’ where we send staff to the service venue ahead of time and capture the names of all the attendees by asking them to sign their names as they arrive. They can also have the opportunity to add to this at the wake by writing messages of support for the close family or sharing precious memories. We then collate these names and messages into a beautiful ring bound book to present to you as a reminder of the day. This is a truly valued service as often the close mourners can find it difficult to notice everyone who is in the congregation and the day can seem to pass in a blur. You may also wish to consider engaging the services of a funeral photographer, or videographer, please see here for more information.
Involving the children
A child who is mourning a loss could be encourages to write and read a poem that they have written about the person who has died. For more suggestions, please click here.
We work with Michelle who creates beautiful and bespoke funeral favours as a token gift for the mourners that attend the funeral and/or wake. Usually they are contained in a small organza bag and could be forget-me-not seeds, a small candle or tea light, a piece of the jigsaw puzzle the deceased was working on or a sample of their favourite toffee. You could also give a pot of snowdrops in spring or hyacinth bulbs in the winter, to represent new life.