Table of Contents

Our book, Heartfelt Memorial Services, covers a wide range of subjects and issues for creating heartfelt ceremonies and meaningful experiences when families gather. We provide more detailed suggestions in each category than most any other resource. The ideas are designed to be adapted to your needs, desires, traditions and approach to life.

Dedication iii
Acknowledgements v
Introduction xiii
How to Use Heartfelt Memorial Services xvii
Find the Right Words to Say xviii


Planning and Organizing the Service or Ceremony 1

Letting People Know
Family and Friends
Website to Help Share Care-Giving Status and Information
Groups and Organizations
Public Notices

Writing the Obituary
Sample Obituaries
Preparing Early
What to Include
Parts of the Obituary 15
Privacy and Security Issues 17

Deciding on the Style and Scope of the Service 19
When to Hold the Service 19
Who Plans the Service 20
Open Casket or Closed Casket? Rental Casket? 21
Finding Compromise when Opinions Differ 22
Deciding on a Budget 23
Selecting a Location 26
Additional Location Options 28
Considerations for Outdoor Services 30

Planning Key Parts of the Service 31
Sample Order of a Service 31
The Receiving Line 33
The Importance of Processionals and Recessionals 34
Service Program 36

Leading or Facilitating the Service 39
Finding an Officiant 39
Attributes of a Successful Officiant 40
Responsibilities of the Officiant 41
Planning Meeting with the Family 43
Time Delays – For Whom Do We Wait? 45

Eulogies and Testimonials 47
Writing and Delivering the Eulogy 48
Tips for the Eulogist 48
Remembrances (Testimonials) 52
Sharing from the Audience 54
Ways to Involve the Audience 55

Readings for the Officiant and Presenters 59
Opening and Closing Remarks for Officiants 61
Readings for Various Uses 63
Readings from the Perspective of the Deceased 78
Quotes 84
Readings for a Suicide 86
Poems 88
Quotations 88

Music 91
Performers 91
Music Considerations 92
Technical Aspects of Arranging the Music 95
Song Suggestions 96

Personalizing Your Service or Ceremony 101
Seating 101
Memorabilia 102
Balloons 103
Candle Lighting 104
Unique Processionals 105
Decorations around a Particular Interest 106
Timelines Tell a Story and Get People Involved 106
Family Tree 108
Flowers and Plants 109
Contributions in Lieu of Flowers 110
Butterfly Release 111
Dove Release 111
Fun and Unifying Clothing or Hats 112
Mementos for Guests to Take Home 112
Memory Notes 113
Nametags 113

CHAPTER 10 115
Receptions 115
Considerations when Planning the Reception 115

CHAPTER 11 119
Recording the Service and/or Reception 119
Recording Guidelines to Consider 119
Broadcasting the Service via the Internet 121

CHAPTER 12 123
Logistics 123
Before the Service 123
During the Service 124
After the Service 126

CHAPTER 13 127
“What Can I Do to Help?” Using Volunteers 127
Delegating Before, During and After the Service 127
Assign a Volunteer Coordinator 128
List of Volunteer Opportunities 128

CHAPTER 14 131
Dealing with Family Tensions 131
When Family and Friends Can’t or Won’t Come Together 134
The “No-Travel” Ceremony 136

CHAPTER 15 139
Involving Children 139
What to Say and Do Around the Death Experience 139
How Children Can Participate 141

CHAPTER 16 145
Special Circumstances: Tragic or Unexpected Deaths 145
Suicide 146

CHAPTER 17 149
Small or Special Ceremonies 149
Ceremony Sequence of Events 150
Things to Do with Cremation Remains 150
Graveside Services 153
Earth-Friendly Burials and Home Funerals 157
US Military and Veteran Ceremonies 161


Additional Ways to Bring Together Family and Friends 164

CHAPTER 18 165
Conversations and Activities During the Last Days 165
Questions to Stimulate Important Conversations 166
Activities that Can Make a Difference During the Last Stages of
Life 167
Good Things to Say in the Last Hours 169
A Time for the Family to Connect 169
Creating a Nurturing Environment as the End Draws Near 170
Resources for End-of-Life Experiences 173

CHAPTER 19 177
Recording Family Personalities and Stories as a Legacy 177
Ways to Share Your Stories, Heritage, Legacy and Talents 179
Prepare the Participants 181
Maintain the Flow of Conversation 182
Prompt Lively and Informative Conversations 182
Sample Questions for Kids to Ask Elders 183
How to Record Your Memories 186

CHAPTER 20 189
Plan a Meaningful Celebration of Life Party 189
While Your Friend is Still Here to Enjoy It 189
For a Friend after She Has Gone 191

CHAPTER 21 193
Remembering You Many Times and in Many Ways 193
Create a Remembrance Ceremony 194

Resources 197
What Not to Say and What to Say 199
What Not to Say to Someone Who is Dying 200
What to Say to Someone Who is Dying 200
What Not to Say to Those Who Are Grieving 202
What to Say to Those Who are Grieving 207
Appendix II 209
Phrases and Words to Inspire Your Writing and Speaking 209
Appendix III 222
Websites with Related Resources 222
Related Books 226
Videos 230
From the Authors 232
Beverly Molander 232
Dave Savage 233
Final Thoughts 235
Notes 236