Taking the Mystery out of Funerals for Unexpected Death of a Loved One

For most of us, as we go through the daily minutiae of our lives, death is an abstraction. So, when it happens around us, we are caught off guard, unprepared.

What would you do if a friend or loved one dies and YOU are asked to do the service? Would you turn down that honor, simply because you are fearful about never having done a funeral and don’t know what to say?

I am EXPECTED to know these things when doing a Memorial, and I DO.

Some time ago, I recognized this and began learning about Funeral Services, as I’m often called upon for those who did not belong to a church and therefore, have no Pastor to perform the service.

I contacted funeral homes and discovered among the need for floral designs for families who could not afford them, that there is a definite need for ministers to perform non denominational services.

I decided I wanted to conduct Memorial Services as an addition to my wedding business, so I began creating a healing service for the occasion.

The hardest parts for me were combating the potential fear of how I would feel about being around a dead body and trying to figure out what I was going to day to give comfort to grieving family and friends.

Until the time of my first Memorial, I’d never seen attended a service, let alone seen a dead body. It quickly becomes apparent that the spirit has departed and what remains is merely an empty vessel.

As for the words to say, I quickly discovered that there is very little material written about funerals and virtually nothing available for Ministers.

I begin my services with an opening and a welcome, I thank people for coming to honor the departed. I then talk about why we are here to celebrate the life of someone they have loved.

I move on to talk about the value of telling stories and remembrances of the deceased and invite people to say a few words. It is not unusual to have nobody speak at the service, but sometimes people will wish to say a few words and I encourage them doing so.

I enjoy singing Amazing Grace at funerals.

If the body is going to be interred (buried), then I go to the graveside (unless I’m already there for a graveside service) and say some words of scripture, the Lords Prayer and the words for the interment (giving the body back to the ground, etc).

I have found that memorial services are a tremendous place to teach, to learn and to heal.

It’s often difficult not to burst into tears when surrounded by sadness for I can be quite emotional at times.

However, it’s MY JOB to distance myself and be strong so the bereaved can lean on me and feel free to express their own grief.

I sometimes get teary eyed at weddings/Unification’s and other events I perform as well. You see, I’m often in the center of a highly emotionally charged ceremony for family and friends and the importance of their event is incredibly important to me.

I do hope this helps those who have contacted me understand why I ask so many questions when I did not have the pleasure of personally knowing the deceased to better prepare the celebration of their lives with family and friends.