If you are arranging a funeral, then you’ll no doubt have a list of the essential services and items you need to sort out – a funeral director, celebrant, coffin, service and crematorium or burial plot being just a few! However, there are other aspects to a funeral which you may not have considered (especially if the death has been sudden and nobody was prepared for it), but these may give the funeral that extra finish which you feel your loved one deserve
It sounds frivolous but a lot of people do like to have the body of the deceased “made up” before the funeral, especially if there will be an open coffin viewing beforehand. Specialist mortuary beauticians exist for this purpose, and their job is to apply make up to the deceased to make them look more how they did when they were alive. This may be something to consider especially if you will have young people attending an open viewing.
The decision to hold a viewing is something that must be a personal choice of the person arranging the funeral, and is often influenced by the manner in which the child passed away. Viewings can provide closure to those who may not have had the chance to say goodbye, but can be uncomfortable for some, so if you do decide to do this, make sure everyone knows the option is available, but not compulsory!
Music at a funeral is common but what about a live band or singer? This could be a local band, choir, or even a family member or friend willing to perform at the ceremony. A live band gives a little extra depth to the songs being played and may make the occasion feel a little less sad.
You will be given a choice of coffin, but it’s worth investigating all the options. From the very ornate to the very plain, there are many types out there, one of which being the humble cardboard coffin. These are eco-friendly and may tick that box for you, if it’s something you feel passionate about. They are also cheaper than a traditional wooden coffin, which may be an influencing factor.
Speaking of coffins, what about the handles? You can get these in any colour and design you can think of, so if you are going for more of an ornate coffin then the handles are also a consideration. They need to be strong enough for the pallbearers to hold and bear the weight, but this shouldn’t stop you from choosing ones that will complement the overall coffin and the tastes of the deceased!
Making the Service Fun
Funerals are by their very nature sombre occasions but you may want to try and lift the spirit of the day by adding a tasteful “fun” element that fits in with the wishes and tastes of your child – especially if other children will be present. Whilst it sounds almost macabre, this can help those present remember the day remember your child the way you want them to, with love and sharing in memory making moments – Ideas include encouraging mourners to tell funny stories and memories they’ve shared, playing music that moves away from the traditional solemn songs and hymns, and including interactive moments such a butterfly release, planting a tree or bush, or watching home videos.
Order of Service
Often overlooked is the Order of Service, and a lot of Funeral Directors will arrange for this to be printed as part of their service, but if you want something a little more personalised then add this to your list. A proportion of people will leave the Order of Service behind after the funeral, but others do take them home to add to their memories of your child, so it’s always nice to make these look well-presented and include specific memories and sayings. Other ideas include adding things like a favourite recipe onto the back or a song they always used to sing, to give a little extra personalised element.
Traditionally, the celebrant or vicar presents the eulogy but there’s no reason why others can’t go up and talk about your child. Obviously there is a time limit on a funeral so you can’t ask everyone to go up, but if you want everyone to be involved then asking for those attending the funeral to write down a short piece or memory to then be read out by one nominated person is a good way of making people feel included. This could even just be one word they’d use to describe your child.
Flowers are typically used to top the coffin, but there’s no reason why you can’t use something else as well as or instead. If you want to stick with flowers then a tribute that says the name of your child or in the shape of something dear to them (such as a car or animal) is a nice idea. Moving away from flowers, you could also look to have a photo of your child on top of the coffin during the funeral or items dear to them in life, such as favourite jewellery, plants or clothing.
Adapted from funeral map.co.uk