How to Plan a Farewell Service

By: John Moles
Wednesday, April 15, 2015

You might be wondering, what is a meaningful farewell service? The good news is that it has absolutely nothing to do with how much money you spend.

A meaningful farewell is the natural outcome of taking the time to come together as a family, working with one of our farewell planners, to design a meaningful and memorable event that appropriately celebrates the life of your loved one.

After decades of designing this type of service, we can tell you there are five critical elements involved.

The first critical element is the participation of as many family members as possible. Our all-time high was more than 20. In general, you should feel free to involve as many family members as you'd like. This allows the family to reach a consensus on the best way to celebrate the life of their loved one. Different family members often have different viewpoints and it’s best to work out any issues as a group.

The second critical element is to bring some of your favorite stories about your loved one with you. You won’t have to prepare anything. These will be stories that quickly come to mind and will help form the basis for a truly amazing memorial service or tribute. Through personalization and sharing of stories, our farewell planner will help you make the memorial service a true celebration of the life he or she lived.

The third critical element of a successful advanced farewell planning meeting is to be creative. A good funeral home will never limit how you wish to celebrate the life of your loved one. It can be as simple or elaborate as you would like and doesn’t need to resemble a traditional funeral at all.

Family preferences have changed dramatically over the past 25 years. Traditional funerals that focused on the body of the deceased are no longer the accepted norm. Instead, today's families are looking for a funeral home that is flexible, innovative, and willing to help them design an experience that honors the memories and celebrates a life well lived.

One of the best things you can do is to bring meaningful items that will help tell the life story of your loved one. When you bring in memorabilia, it shifts the focus off of your loved one’s death onto his or her life. Over the past few years, we have had families bring in everything from saddles, to quilts, to motorcycles. We also have had family pets and farm animals attend the memorial tribute. These things may be surprising to you, but the possibilities are truly endless.

The fourth element of a successful arrangement meeting is that it must encompass the needs of every generation of your family. From elders to infants and everyone in between, it is possible to design a memorial service that provides a meaningful and healing tribute for every generation.

The fifth element of a successful arrangement meeting is that the family becomes comfortable leaning on us. Our farewell planners and funeral directors are experts at helping you design a unique and personal memorial tribute. After meeting with them, you can be at ease knowing that we will follow through and handle all of the details for you.

To summarize, the five critical elements of a successful arrangement meeting are: (1) participation—we welcome as many family members as you can bring; (2) bring your stories, because these tell the life story of your loved one; (3) be creative—we will help you with ideas and the possibilities are endless; (4) involve every generation, because that’s what family is all about; and (5) count on us to handle the details while you mourn the loss of your loved one.

Some people ask us how we can do this every day. The answer is that it’s a calling. Every person who works at each of our locations does so not simply for a paycheck, we do it to serve families when they need it the most—at the time of the loss of a loved one.

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