How do I customize a funeral?

Published: February 19, 2022

Planning a special celebration for a loved one—or for yourself before the time of need—is a crucial part of the grieving process. When planning, start with your unique memories, stories and ideas to begin creating a special celebration of life. Personalizing a service or memorial can mean adding small details to a traditional event or planning a more elaborate affair. Whatever your preference, Boyd Funeral Home, here in Marion, is here to help you design a personalized service that will leave an indelible mark on the hearts of family and friends. From flowers and music to food and mementos, there are many funeral ideas to contribute to a memorable tribute.

A traditional funeral service is the perfect choice for some families, but even traditional services can be customized to reflect personality, passions and even a signature style. The uniqueness of a life can be expressed without compromising the traditional aspects of a service.

Speech. A personalized eulogy is one way to express how special someone was. The moments that stand out for you or the things you remember about someone can often be incorporated into the service to become poignant pieces of a eulogy.

Music. Music can evoke memories of special times. If you are planning a funeral ahead of time, think about songs that are meaningful to you. Write them down in your planning guide and share them with your family and a funeral planning professional to ensure your wishes are known.

If you are planning a funeral for a friend or family member, think about a song he or she always hummed when happy or sang in the shower. Did he have a favorite band? Did she identify with a certain singer? Create a custom playlist or organize live musicians to play at the service.

Decor and mementos. These unique items of remembrance can bring comfort and a smile to family and friends attending a funeral service. Any interest, hobby or favorite person, place or thing can be an idea or inspiration for personalizing a funeral service. Decorating the funeral home chapel and lobby or service location is another way to reflect a passion and personality. From cooking to traveling, running to reading, acting to origami, there are endless ways to tell special stories. For a golfing enthusiast, bring in his or her golf bag—clubs and all—and hand out personalized golf balls to guests. Place a world-class quilter’s cherished work on display. Or, if gardening was a passion, decorate the service with flowers and plants, and hand out personalized seed packets for guests to take home in remembrance. Check out these Pintrest Boards with many more ideas.

Attire. Think about the favorite color of your loved one—or your favorite color if planning ahead. Consider asking funeral guests to wear that color as a tribute in lieu of traditional black. The type of clothing worn is another idea. Friends of a horse-racing enthusiast could wear Derby-style hats. Jerseys, t-shirts and colors of a beloved sports team are also a way to personalize a service. Requests for certain attire can be made in the online obituary, along with details of the service time and location.

Flowers. Flowers have special meanings to us all. Bouquets of a favorite flower can be placed throughout the service area and a bloom can be given to each guest as a special memento. Pallbearers can wear boutonnieres or place flowers in their hair. Flowers can be displayed in a way that carries out a theme as well—think floral arrangements in teapots, watering cans, cowboy boots, coffee cups and more. As an alternative to flowers, arrangements of other greenery or fresh fruits or vegetables could be displayed.

Charity. Some families prefer that friends and family donate time or money to a favorite charity in lieu of sending flowers. It could be a church, a homeless mission or a humanitarian outreach program, just to name a few.

Ideas for a cemetery or graveside service

Though many people plan the decor and speeches at a funeral, the service at the grave site may be overlooked. Unique and personal touches can be incorporated here as well, starting with the procession from the chapel to the cemetery. An avid cyclist, for example, might like riding club friends to escort the procession, while a musician might choose a band to lead the way.

Once at the cemetery or memorial park, music reflecting a loved one's culture, heritage or passion could be performed or played. A mariachi band brings festive energy. A lone bagpiper can be deeply moving.

Some families choose a symbolic gesture associated with their beliefs. A butterfly release symbolizes new life. Releasing balloons in a single favorite color makes a statement. Guests might want to tie notes of hope to the ends of the balloons strings. A dove release is yet another special tribute and remembrance option.

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