For centuries families have joined together for ceremonies and rituals to help them make meaning of their loss. Funeral professionals are all too familiar with leading these types of remembrance services and funeral order of service, as well as the rising trend of personalization. By offering a variety of choices to families you’ll find that in addition to helping them commemorate a loved one, you are inviting a variety of opportunities to connect and build a rapport. Asking open-ended questions during arrangements for instance allows a funeral director to not only get to know more about the deceased, but also to observe the ways in which families interact. More importantly this becomes the ideal setting to transform family conversations into ceremonial creations.
How is Memorializing Different from Personalization?
Although very similar concepts, personalization in the funeral home tends to focus more on how the deceased is represented. I’m sure you’ve found that involving family members or friends in this process creates a sense of unity and ensures that the personality of the deceased is kept alive. Memorializing goes above and beyond personalization. The act of memorializing pays tribute to a person’s life and gives loved ones and friends the opportunity to recall memories. Funeral professionals who offer suggestions and facilitate such conversations can actually help family and friends capture even more memories. Recalling memories helps to build stories about the deceased, therefore the likelihood of preserving memories increases as more stories are generated.
Helping someone say goodbye to a loved one is an important service provided by funeral professionals and the cornerstone to any funeral home business and
funeral order of service. The care, compassion and empathy you exude at such a delicate time in a person’s life, is not likely to be forgotten. Now-a-days, most people are familiar with photo boards, familiar music and small mementos that honor the life of someone when they enter the funeral home. Taking the leap from personalization to memorialization is not complicated, it simply involves providing tools, suggestions and handouts to show family, friends and the community-at-large that you are thinking of them and that you recognize that everyone’s life is special.
Helping Families Memorialize and funeral order of service
During a wake, why not have small pieces of cardstock just the right size for people to write down their favorite memories of the person who died? Having discussed this idea with family or friends during arrangements, you may want to walk around during calling hours with some cards and pens in a small basket encouraging others to share memories. These memories, funny stories or special recollections can be gathered at the end of the services and either given to family or friends in a special box or displayed in an album. If you don’t feel comfortable walking around encouraging participation, you may want to check to see if the family would like a child or someone else to do the honors.
Of course there are many variations to this type of activity. You could have a box or basket of cards with directions displayed near the guest book on a separate table or you could have the directions with a poem or special phrase or prayer printed on the back of the cards and hand them out with a pen (imprinted with your name/logo) to people as they walk in. Encourage visitors to hand in their memories before they leave and to take the pen home with them as a gift.
This memorialization technique can be modified even further for children visiting your funeral home, however, try and buy larger cardstock pieces (found in the scrapbooking section of most arts/crafts supply stores) since children tend to need more room to write and draw pictures. Another suggestion for children: pre-cut shapes out of construction paper, such as butterflies, hearts or flowers. Children can then write, dictate or draw their favorite memories on these cut-outs to have as keepsakes, place in the casket or share with others.
Giving families the tools to help their children memorialize a loved one is truly priceless. Whether you are providing children with an all-inclusive grief-related coping kit or just a pencil and a paper, you are providing them with an opportunity to create lasting keepsakes in the memory of their loved one. This is so important especially for families with young children, since sadly, the average young child will forget precious memories as early as a few months following their loss.
Families with children of all ages may be interested in a special children’s service to help memorialize a loved one. Together they can choose songs or readings that pay tribute to their loved one. Children may also want to write a story, poem or song that can be read or sung aloud. They may also want to perform a little skit or play that highlights the personality of the deceased or favorite memories. Creating a goodbye poster is also a nice way to involve children in the memorialization process. Encourage families to use poster-board or long butcher paper, words/pictures from magazines, copies of photographs and a variety of arts/crafts materials such as ribbon, paint and stickers. It is always interesting to see a tribute to the deceased through the eyes of a child. Encourage a family to bring in their poster so that you may display it for visitors entering your funeral home.