As people, we are unique individuals. We may sometimes resemble each other or like similar things, but no other person on earth is exactly like anyone else. Because we are so different, because we have our own nuances and intricacies, it makes sense to personalize a funeral. Just as we personalize our weddings, our birthdays, or our anniversaries, the final celebration of our life should reflect who we are, what we value, and what we leave behind as a legacy to others.
As you preplan and put your funeral wishes in writing, remember that personalization is the key to creating a healing and meaningful experience that will meet the emotional needs of family and offer comfort throughout the grief journey.
What Parts of the Funeral Can I Personalize?
Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a nationally respected grief expert, counselor, and author, tells us that to create a healing and meaningful funeral, you should include seven elements: music, readings, visitation, eulogy, symbols, a gathering, and actions. As you set your plans, consider how you can personalize each of these elements to fit your personality, beliefs, and core values. If you want to include something that will honor the life lived, and it will be meaningful, then that’s a way to personalize.
How Do I Go About Personalizing a Funeral?
The first step is taking time to think about your likes and dislikes, your values and beliefs, your passions, hobbies, and pastimes. You can do that through asking yourself a series of questions and then deciding which ones capture the essence of who you are.
- What am I passionate about?
- What attributes am I known for?
- Do I have any cherished memories I want to include?
- Do I have any special achievements I’d like recognized?
- What am I known for?
- Am I particularly talented at something?
- What are my hobbies or special interests?
- What is my faith or spiritual beliefs?
Once you’ve pinpointed the answer to these questions, decide how to use them to personalize each of the seven elements of the funeral. You can weave a theme throughout the event, or you can simply focus on a few aspects of your life. As long as you are taking the time to truly honor the life you've lived, then choose whatever seems best for you and your family.
A Few Ideas to Get You Started
Even after a brainstorming session, it can be tough to get started. Here are a few personalization ideas to get your creative mind up and running.
- Include a memorial DVD
- Add in a candlelight ceremony
- Choose a special location for the service
- Pick a color or clothing theme
- Bring in special music
- Include a meal with your favorite foods
- Incorporate cherished items
- Plan to give guests a token/item to take home as a remembrance
- Consider a release ceremony (butterflies, balloons, lanterns, doves, etc.)
All of these are potential ideas, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. The options are as unique as you are. Whether you are a quilter, a collector, an artist, an animal lover, a teacher, a cowboy, a fisherman, a golfer, you can do something special to honor your life in a very unique and personal way.
* To view the full article, go to Funeral Basics.