Unlike a funeral service in which the body of the deceased is present, a memorial service is more like a remembrance of the individual and does not necessitate a viewing.
This option allows for great flexibility in time and event planning.
An elegant remembrance can be likened to other milestone events in a lifetime such as a baby shower, a milestone birthday, or a wedding. The mood, although somber, is one of tribute and a celebration of life.
Many beautiful facilities such as gardens and greenhouses, arboretums, museums, theaters, parks, lodges, aquariums, wineries, among others, offer private event rentals that are perfectly suitable for a remembrance of life.
Planning an elegant remembrance is much like planning any other type of social gathering.
First, the appropriate time and date of the event must be determined. The memorial service may take place several days after death or several months. This flexibility allows the family and friends to take any amount of time to adjust to the new reality of death.
Once a date for the memorial remembrance service is determined other decisions need to be made rather quickly. These include finding an appropriate venue, sending invitations, determining menu selections, program, music, speeches, and other tributes.
When selecting a venue, some practical considerations should include;the number of people anticipated to attend, if the venue allows food or alcohol, if specific caterers must be used, if the venue is appropriate for the anticipated weather, and if the venue is something that the deceased would have liked and appreciated.
After arrangements have been made to secure the venue the specifics and details of the remembrance memorial service should be decided. These include determining who to invite, how invitations should be sent, if food and drink will be served, musical selections, flowers and other decorations, who will speak or offer remembrance stories and readings, and if the attendees can offer tangible remembrance items to the family or if the family will offer items to guests.
Invitations and notifications to friends and family can be done informally through email and phone calls, through an obituary in the local newspaper, or with formal paper invitations.
A menu should be based on the likes of the deceased. If the deceased was particularly fond of desert a selection of deserts could be offered. If bacon was a particular favorite then a selection of bacon wrapped hors d’oeuvres could be offered.
Music, just as food, should also be a tribute to the deceased. If the deceased was often seen with an mp3 player then assembling an mp3 playlist of the favorite songs would be appropriate. Perhaps live jazz or bluegrass was a favorite in which a local band could be obtained.
Flowers and decorations are often a very personal choice. Flower arrangements can be made from the favorite flowers or colors of the deceased. Or flowers from regions, such as the tropics, could be used to represent the deceased love of travel.
Having photographs of the deceased, either as prints, photo books, or projected onto a screen, is a way to honor the deceased and to open conversation with the attendees. Guests may also wish to bring favorite photographs to share or give to the family.
Determining how structured the memorial service will be is a key decision. If specific people will speak and musical selections will be played then a scripted program will be appropriate.
However, if the gathering is more like an open house with mingling and conversation, the family can gather the attention of the attendees quite simply and ask for tributes and respects be paid by those who wish to speak.
These tributes can be made personal by reading some writings of the deceased including blog or facebook entries or by showing photographs the deceased may have taken of those who are attending the memorial service.
Finally, a way for the family to remember multiple perspectives of the deceased is to have the attendees give a tangle remembrance item to the family. This can be done in the form of a journal that attendees could write their favorite memory of the deceased, a photo collage assembled by gifted photographs, or an art canvas that individuals can draw or illustrate their tribute. Checklist: