What is a Memorial Service?

Unlike a traditional funeral, a memorial service is a gathering where a casket is not present (although the urn with the cremated remains may be on display). A memorial service can be held weeks or even months after the death.

A memorial service can be held in a church, the funeral home or a community hall, or somewhere of importance to the deceased and family. There is usually music, selected readings, and a eulogy. Memorial services can be further personalized as a celebration-of-life.

Memorial Service Ideas

Our experience has shown us that many of today’s families want more than a traditional funeral. This can be done by bringing more of the personality and lifestyle of the deceased into the arrangements. By displaying photographs or staging the event around a favorite pastime, a memorial service can become more personal and meaningful.

If a personalized memorial service suits the needs of your family, we suggest you consider the following questions:

  • What did your loved one like to do?
  • What was he or she like as an individual?
  • What was their profession and how did that shape their life?
  • Was your loved one spiritual?
  • Was he or she proud of their cultural or ethnic heritage?

We’re Here to Advise, Assist, and Guide You

Using the above five questions as our guide, we will spend the time to help create a fitting memorial service for your loved one. Please call us to learn the details of our memorial service planning process.

Why a Memorial Service?

Rather than opting to do things “the same old way”, many families today want to celebrate the life of a loved one. Many funeral service professionals see this change as one of the many contributions to social change made by  “Baby Boomers“. The National Funeral Directors Association notes, “As baby boomers age and find themselves having to plan funerals for loved ones and themselves, they are making funeral choices based on values that are different than previous generations. Baby boomers see funerals as a valuable part of the grieving process and are seeking ways to make them meaningful.” If you too desire to make the funeral for a loved one more engaging and personally meaningful, a celebration-of-life may be the perfect concept to build on.

How Does a Celebration of Life Differ from a Traditional Funeral?

As mentioned in the page Traditional Funeral Services, there are four basic components which make up the conventional approach to funerals:

  1. A Visitation
  2. The Funeral Service
  3. A Committal Service
  4. The Funeral Reception

A traditional funeral then is a series of events; it’s a ritualized process where the deceased, and the attendees, pass from one social status to another; a process where the torn fabric of a family and community is repaired. According to the online article “Six Characteristics of Helpful Ceremonies”, by William Hoy, Director of Grief Connect, this is done by including:

  • Symbols of shared significance intended to communicate beyond words
  • Ritual actions shared by a group of individuals
  • Gathered people providing comfort to one another
  • Connection to heritage through recognized readings
  • Increased physical contact between attendees provide comfort
  • Witnessing the transition of the body through burial or cremation

In knowing these characteristics, you can design a Celebration of Life as unique as the life of your loved. Learn how to create a Celebration of Life.

Ash Scattering Services

For families who have chosen cremation for a loved one, the next decision involves what to do with the remains. Some choose to keep the cremated remains in their home, have them placed in a columbarium niche at a local cemetery, or scatter the ashes in a meaningful place.

Ash Scattering

Cremation provides families with more time to arrange where and how to scatter the ashes. While there is no policing agency overseeing scattering, there are some basics you should know:

  • If you plan on scattering ashes on private property, it’s smart to receive written permission from the owner.
  • Public parks require that you obtain a scattering permit.
  • There are no regulations regarding ash scattering on uncontrolled public lands; you need to use your own judgment.
  • You should not scatter ashes within 100 yards of public roads or trails.
  • The cremation container must be disposed of separately and in an environmentally-safe manner.
  • Scattering ashes in inland waters is governed by the Clean Water Act so it’s important to obtain a permit from the agency that oversees waterways.
  • Ash scattering at sea must be done at a minimum of three nautical miles from the coastline.
  • Any flowers or wreaths used in the ash scattering ceremony held at sea must decompose. No plastic flowers or other non-decomposable items should be left behind.
  • For ash scattering done at sea, the Environmental Protection Agency requires that you notify the regional office in writing within 30 days after the event.

How to Scatter Ashes

Cremated remains bear little resemblance to ashes; they look and behave a lot like small-grained gravel. However, there are some fine-grains mixed in so be sure to check the wind direction before scattering into the air or a body of water.

The technique of trenching is another option. Dig a small trench in the location of your choice, place the remains (or a biodegradable urn containing the ashes) within, and cover with soil.

Raking is another technique used. Pour the remains on the surface of the soil and use a rake to mix the ashes.

You may also wish to check out our selection of scattering urns prior to making plans for your ceremony. Should you need advice on how to design a meaningful ceremony, feel free to call us .

Telling the story of a life.

It is a surprising fact that most people who attend a funeral do not know the deceased very well, or at all. They come to the service in support of a friend who has lost a parent or other relative, or in sympathy for a co-worker or neighbor. A funeral is a time to remember a loved one as a person who had interests, hobbies, and accomplishments. That is why we believe each funeral should tell the story of the life that has been lived.

Excellence in funeral service.

Since we specialize in making every funeral as personal and expressive as possible, we listen carefully to family members during the planning conference, and then recommend many touching and dignified ways to tell the important story of the life that has been lived. In addition to personalized caskets, urns, and other merchandise, we often ask families to consider:

  • Memory tables with a display of personal items.
  • Photo boards that include images of the person’s life, pursuits, and loved ones.
  • Tribute videos — a touching commemoration produced with photos from the person’s life, edited together with music.
  • Special music with your loved one’s “favorite song,” or other selection that carries special memories and meaning.
  • Personal clothing…Often, we dress a loved one in the jersey of his favorite team, a military uniform, or the apron she loved to wear while cooking for the family.
  • Keepsakes, Thumbies® and jewelry -such as lockets, charms, pendants, and other jewelry, and many other types of mementos, as well. These items are perfect to store a portion of the cremated remains, a lock of hair, or earth from the gravesite.
  • Special requests…We have helped families carry out some unique wishes. Please do not hesitate to discuss these needs with us, because we will do everything possible to accommodate you.
  • In our selection room, we have set aside an area for personalization items and ideas. Please ask to see these interesting, satisfying, and dignified ways to communicate the unique personality of your loved one. We will be happy to show you the complete selection.

Memory tables with a display of personal items

Personal clothing…Often, we dress a loved one in the jersey of his favorite team, a military uniform, or the apron she loved to wear while cooking for the family

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