When Performing a Funeral Service
When I present a message to grieving families about death and dying, often Scripture verses are included which are intended to comfort the family and friends.
Speaking about the departed one, my message often includes biographical information about the individual; the departed one may have been a community leader, volunteer, parent of a number of children, etc.
Normally, someone close to the family is appointed to give the eulogy. Speaking is a form of grieving and it is important that the Minister remember that funerals are more for the living than they are for the departed one.
Funerals embrace the last moments of memories made and about to end. Making the funeral service memorable in words and actions is the most important duty to a Minister.
The eulogy a very appropriate way of celebrating the deceased persons life. After the eulogy, I take back control of the ceremony by reading a few Scriptures of comfort for family and friends. Sometimes using poems of peace as a substitute for Scripture based on the family’s religious beliefs.
A story can be told to bring all present to a common thought or feeling, bringing into the message some of the personal aspects of the person are always important to me.
Rather than listing all of the accomplishments in life, I recount the emotional aspects such as being a loving husband, partner, wife, grandmother, etc. bringing as many memories as possible. Family members are very helpful in supplying emotional aspects of the departed ones life if I did not personally know the deceased.
Closing the ceremony with a prayer and them the closing Benediction should be a memorable moment. Often, I will ca on family and friends to bow their heads in prayer. This is a good practice as it creates unity with the group.
At the conclusion of the service, I lead the recessional from within the church or chapel to the hearse. Once the casket has been placed, I get into my vehicle and follow the procession to the graveside. At the graveside, it is customary for me to lead the pall eaters as they carry the casket.
Graveside services (the Committal or Interment Ceremony), which follows the funeral service is the whole ceremony, in which case the time would increase. In a chapel service, an hour is ample time and usually much less depending on the number of musical selections beginning the ceremony or hymns sung during the ceremony.
For a graveside committal ceremony as the complete ceremony, the service should be thirty minutes or less depending on the weather and other factors.
There will be occasions when the entire service will be conducted at the graveside. This type of service requires much planning since there are a number of circumstances that will be considerably different; the weather, temperature, setting, arrangements, etc. most of the people will be standing and the family will be seated.
A prayer for the departed:
Dear Departed Soul,
We think of you often and feel sorrow that you’re gone. We loved you in life and in death we love you still. When God called you home, you took with you a part of our hearts and left behind an empty place that no one can fill.
You are with God now, but the memories you left behind will keep you in our hearts forever.
We wish you peace and send you with our love as you take the next step.