Chapter 11

Your Choice for Your Loved One… or you 

For most of our life we have everything scripted; weddings, dance routines - everything except funerals or memorial services. My words of wisdom in planning a memorial service is to ask yourself, 'how does everything fit together to tell the story of your loved one?'

End-of-life services are a very important element in life’s journey. The gift families and friends give each other by coming together, unified in love, trust, and compassion is priceless.

In my many years of officiating, I have facilitated dozens of services for families who are grieving the loss of an parent, grandparent, or child. Some have experienced a sudden unexpected death while others are feeling relieved after watching a sick person suffer from illness.

While the death of a loved one is difficult, it can be even more overwhelming when the circumstances of the death trigger feelings of despair, confusion, anger, or shame. Survivor of an especially painful loss, need to be met in an atmosphere of acceptance, patience and compassion.  Talk honestly together about how you would like to see the ceremony bring meaning and dignity to a life that has been lost in an especially tragic way.

Whether you are an introspective person, spiritual person, religious person or none of the above, the loss of a loved one creates a deep need for a way to bring a sense of fulfillment in the empty spaces.  A service or ceremony helps people to come together. The support that people can give you is enormous. It creates deepening bonds among family and friends. Old friends “come out of the woodwork” and everyone learns something new about the deceased. It can be a profoundly enriching experience for everyone, often to great surprise.

Some were facilitated in our local “green cemetery”.  Still others in this collection were officiated at community graveyards, church sanctuaries, funeral homes and parlors, and living rooms. Some of the dead were coffin-buried, one was shrouded, and there were a number of cremains buried or scattered. A service for a teenager was a tree-mation. 

Except for those of my own family have changed the names, or whited them out, in each of the services, remembrances and ceremonies printed here.

Before each printed program I’ve written a description of the service setting, the circumstances of the death, as well as the rituals and rubrics that are woven throughout.