decisions: step by step

It helps if you sit down with a list of questions that need to be answered, and work your way through them with your family. The first decision that needs to be made is whether there will be a burial or a cremation. Once you have decided that, think carefully about how to personalise the funeral service so it reflects the life of your loved one, and is meaningful to family and friends.

Personalising a funeral service

A funeral is so much more than a way to say goodbye; it’s an opportunity to celebrate the life of someone special, and to honour his or her achievements.

How can you make a funeral service unique?

The following questions will help you to personalize your loved one’s farewell.

What did the person like to do?

Often people have hobbies that ended up being far more than just a casual pastime. Their hobbies and interests are as much a part of who they are as their smile. By displaying memorabilia, sporting equipment, trophies, photos, collections related to a hobby or overwhelming interest, you add a really personal touch to the funeral. The service becomes a reflection of the person’s life and personality.

What was the person like as an individual?

One way to enhance a funeral is by bringing a piece of the person’s personality to life. What made this person special? What made them who they were? As you talk about them, you’ll think of ways to link their individuality to traditional aspects of the funeral service.

What was the person like as a professional?

Many people take great pride in their career. They may have dedicated a lifetime to a profession that meant far more to them than just a job. If you find yourself nodding as you read this, start to consider ways to include their professional life into their funeral service. For example, for a fire person/police officer, you could use fire trucks or police vehicles in the procession or display their uniform and equipment.

Was the person spiritual?

Through organised religion or personal beliefs, most people have some sense of spirituality in their lives. Often these values are from the very core of who the person was in life. Therefore, you may feel it is important to incorporate the individual’s sense of spirituality into their funeral service. You can do this by holding the service at the person’s parish or religious facility; having someone read excerpts from a key religious publication (e.g. bible); having the person’s cremated remains scattered at a place of spiritual significance to them, or including sacred music from their religion in the service.

Once you have jotted down some ideas about how to make the funeral service personal and meaningful, it will be easier to make the necessary decisions. Work your way through this list:

  • Will there be a burial or cremation?
  • Will the funeral ceremony take place at the funeral home chapel, a church, the graveside or at the crematorium chapel?
  • Who will lead the funeral? Clergy or a celebrant?
  • Which coffin is most appropriate?
  • What sort of music will there be? (Music plays an important role in a funeral service as we often use music to express intense feelings and emotion. One particular song may have been a favourite of the deceased.)
  • Do you want to provide a CD for the music, or would you like us to use an organist or musician of your choice? (Funerals have used guitarists, string quartets, or many other musicians/singers.)
  • Will family members need to be picked up in a mourning car?
  • Will there be a viewing?
  • How will the deceased be dressed?
  • What sort of floral arrangements should be prepared?
  • Should there be a newspaper notice?
  • Will there be a eulogy and/or readings at the funeral? If so, will they be read by clergy, the celebrant, family or a friend?
  • Will there be donations to charity in lieu of flowers?
  • Will pallbearers be the Wollongong City Funerals team, or family members and/or friends?
  • Will refreshments take place at Wollongong City Funerals or at another venue? (Wollongong City Funerals is happy to provide catering on our premises.)

A GUIDE FOR YOU: A useful document in arranging a funeral is the Personal Information Form. You will find it in our Information Sheet Section.

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