Celebration Of Life Service
Franklin & Hawkins Family Funeral Directors are here to offer help and support in arranging funerals when you have lost a loved one, at the time you need it most. We tailor our personal service around you and take care of all the details so you can focus on grieving. We will take care of every detail to ensure the day runs smoothly and the focus is on the celebration of the life of your loved one.
We offer a variety of funeral services such as themes, woodland, humanist, crematorium, military funerals etc. We also offer elements that will make the day truly special such as horse drawn carriages; dove releases, balloon releases, memorials and services designed exactly how you envision them. We plan every detail and the order of the ceremony alongside you so you can inject the essence of your loved one into the ceremony and remember them in the way they would want to be remembered.
Within the service you may decide you want to read, or have read a poem, which may have been written especially for this person or an existing poem that has a special meaning. This can be an emotional way of saying goodbye but one that conveys meaning in a subtle but powerful manner. The poem could be read by yourself, a family member, a friend or whoever you choose to hold your service. There are many poems that already exist that were written especially for funerals tat you could use or use for inspiration. Some examples include ‘let me go’, ‘remember’, ‘do not stand at my grave and weep’ and ‘not how did he die, but how did he live?’ You can find a broad selection of such poems online if you search for ‘funeral poems.’ As your funeral director we will give you some guidance if you are struggling to find a poem you can relate to.
Some inspirational lines from poems could be similar to these examples, whether you choose to use these for inspiration or include them in your service:
‘Life can be the same after a trinket has been lost but never after the loss of a treasure’
‘You can shed tears that she is gone or you can smile because she has lived’
‘Why cry for a soul set free?’
‘How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again.’
‘Weep if you must, parting is hell but life goes on so sing as well.’
Whatever poem you feel is fitting is a honourable way to remember those who have passed. You can tailor the poem to a relation or from the deceased’s perspective as a symbol of their last words and this provides an element of closure. In you are not comfortable with this you can find a poem about whom you have lost and the impact they had on people’s lives.
If an entire poem is too upsetting or too emotional for your ceremony and you think your loved one would have appreciated a few meaningful words then having a funeral quote can be as powerful and moving and sometimes considered more memorable. These can be read as a closing or opening quote to the ceremony, wherever you feel is appropriate. This quote can be read by a family member, friend or whoever takes your service. These quotes are often used on the service booklet or engraved on the gravestone if you choose to have one. Such quotes should be relatable to the person and bring back happy memories of them, leaving you to remember them at their best.
Some funeral quotes that you could use include:
‘There are only two way to live your life, one is as though nothing as a miracle and the other is as though everything is a miracle’
‘Death is the final awakening’
‘The song is over but the melody still lingers’
‘If I could sum up life in three words it would be ‘it goes on’’
‘Grief is the price we may for love’
You could use an existing quote or if there is one you can think of yourself you could use this. Maybe it is a quote that your loved one used to use all the time and something they would have wanted as their last words for people to remember them saying. Whatever you choose it is a reflection upon how much they will be missed but a positive quote on the impact they have had gives an uplifting tone to the funeral.
Sometimes people make speeches at funerals in remembrance of those who have passed away. These speeches can include stories of their life, things that used to say, happy memories, anecdotes, positive impacts they have had on peoples lives and what will be missed the most.
Who does the speeches and eulogies varies between different families, sometimes it can be the child, partner or closest friend or sometimes if this is too difficult, a more distant family member or a childhood friend may decide to take on this responsibility. The speeches can be highly emotional and difficult to handle for the people suffering the most grief and passing this responsibility on is a brave thing to do. The speech or eulogy can be written by you but then read by a priest, minister or celebrant if you would find this easier and they can read it as though it came from you or a less personal perspective.
A eulogy is similar to a speech given at a memorial service in memory of someone who has passed. This eulogy should capture the essence of the one you have lost and reflect their personality and everything they brought to your life and their other loved ones. The best eulogies are short but capture some of the best memories and often use the occasional touch of humour, which lightens the speech and makes it less difficult to conduct. They can be a combination of the person’s history, career and life achievements and more personal thoughts, stories, memories and anecdotes.
Writing a eulogy during the period of grief is also a very difficult task, being amongst your friends and family when this happens can be very helpful. Having this support system and sharing your memories and ideas can be a great way to let go and give you some ideas for a eulogy if you are finding it difficult. Another way to find inspiration is to look for old photos, letters, memorabilia, look around their house, which may trigger some wonderful memories. Start by making some notes and getting down onto paper the things that are really important to you, you can then polish it and practice reciting it. If you need a less emotionally involved view on your speech, we, as your funeral directors, are more than happy to help and support you and give an outside perspective to perfect your speech and you can practice it to see if you will be able to deliver the eulogy.
The majority of funerals will have music played at the start and at the end of the ceremonies; the exiting song is probably the most emotional of all as everyone says goodbye to the deceased as they leave and the coffin is removed, this stage is the final goodbye and is always really difficult for the family. You may choose to have a song that was personal to your loved one, sometimes they even make a request before they pass or an emotional song that means a lot to you and your family. Some of the best funeral songs include:
Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton
Feels Like Home – Chantal Kreviazuk
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
Over the Rainbow – Eva Cassidy
Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
You’ll never Walk Alone – Gerry and the Pacemakers
We’ll Meet Again – Vera Lynn
If the deceased was religious, some people often choose to have hymns throughout the service but this again is optional.
You may also choose to have one or more readings at the funeral. The majority of religious funerals will have bible readings but you can also have non-religious funeral readings. These readings may be specific to the family member that has been lost, to say farewell, about the beauty of life or the stages of grief, depending on what you feel is appropriate. One of the most popular readings from Christian ceremonies is John 14. 1-6
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God; trust also in me.
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.
I am going there to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
You Know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”’
What to bring
During the planning process with your funeral director it may make it easier to bring a few things along with you so we can get an idea of the person who has passed and the sort of funeral they would have loved. This enables us to get in touch with the person who has passed away and really help you to put your emotions into this funeral.
When we have our initial meeting we suggest that you bring any ideas that the deceased had for their funeral if you have any or just your thoughts on things such as type of ceremony, burial, coffin. You are welcome to bring pictures, items and other props that make you think of your beloved and will provide inspiration for personalising the funeral.
You can decide upon the clothing the deceased will wear and any jewellery or memorabilia you would like to place in the coffin if you decide against cremation.
You need to think about guests and seating arrangements, ensuring there are enough seats for all the guests and that those closest to the deceased are made known to the funeral director.
There are many things that need organising and we are here to help you with all of these. You may have ideas for flower arrangements for caskets, lids, graveside pieces etc. and you are welcome to bring these with you and we can organise such arrangements accordingly. There is also transport, which we can help you to arrange whether you want a horse and cart or a Hearse, we have many contacts to get the perfect transport.
The deceased may have had some ideas before they passed as to how they wanted their funeral. They may have left some things behind about what they wanted and you are more than welcome to bring these ideas to us and we will keep these as our focus of the funeral.
The usual service follows a typical format as the dead moves towards heaven, another life or being passed on, depending on whether you have a religious service or a humanist one.
First is the arrival of the coffin, which is then carried into the venue by the pallbearers. There is then a welcoming and introduction, which may include prayers or readings. There is then the commendation, farewell and committal of the body for burial or cremation. You then may have a burial of the coffin or ashes that day or a few days following the service.
After the service people often have a wake where everyone gathers to reflect on the funeral and remember all the good things. Funerals provide an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family and bring people together.
You may choose to have a religious service based on the religion of the deceased or if religion was not a part of their life you can have a humanist service. Humanist services can take place in the same places as religious services in crematoriums etc. Religious services can include bible readings, hymns and the service is themed around delivering the person onto God for the next stage of life.
Whole day celebrations
If you decide to have a wake after the funeral, we have years of experience in organising these so you can concentrate on celebrating the life of your loved one. The things that need to be organised include venue, catering, music and anything else you want at the wake.
However sometimes a whole day celebration can be emotional draining so do consider whether you are ready to spend a full day reflecting on the death of someone who is greatly missed and whether you are far enough along in the grieving process.
If you want a funeral service you should consider when you are having it, where and how long for, some people have it before or after the burial or cremation. You could have it at the funeral home, a religious centre, at the graveside or a crematorium. This depends on the family and the deceased and the number of guests. We have many connections with such venues and can organise somewhere that is perfect for you.
You may choose to have a wake service as a celebration of their life after the funeral service. This is a chance for all the family and friends who attended the service to sit down and have a conversation about the loved one they have all lost. It is an opportunity to share memories, stories and have a laugh reflecting on the wonderful life of those who have passed away. This puts an uplifting turn on the sad day that you have all gathered together for. Many people see this as a celebration of the person who you have lost as this is how they would want to be remembered.
The normal gift etiquette at funerals can be to give money or gits to the close family of the deceased in their time of need and grief. This shows that you share in their sadness and offer sympathy and are there for support.
Flowers are the most common choice of gift to leave at the graveside or to put on the coffin or in the hearse when it is being transported to the site of burial. If the family are having a wake, some people may choose to bring food as an offering to be shared at the wake. Some families have charities in wish they request you to donate money in the remembrance of their loved one instead of giving the money directly to them. The gift depends on the family and the funeral service so consider this and ask the family if you are unsure.
If you are struggling for ideas or inspiration you can use social media to give you some original ideas that you can give your own personal touch to. You can get ideas for ceremonies, venues, elements of the service, flowers, readings and poems and many more. Pintrest is especially good for mapping ideas and unique, quirky things to include; you can also find inspiration on tumblr, instagram, Google etc.