Tell your story – Funerals evolving into celebrations of life

“The key to turning a service into a celebration of the life lived is through personalization,” said Bryan Michael

In recent years, funeral and graveside services have evolved from a formal or structured service with religious music, scripture, prayers and little or no information regarding the life of the deceased to a true celebration of a life remembered.

“The key to turning a service into a celebration of the life lived is through personalization,” said Bryan Michael, funeral home manager at Howell, Edwards, Doerksen and Belcrest Memorial Park in Salem. “This encourages family, friends and visitors to share memories of the decedent and how he or she relates to the personalized elements of the service or the items on display.”

Here’s just a small sampling of some recent services that were personalized to suit the life they celebrated:

  • At the suggestion of the funeral director a family brought in items related to the decedent’s work as a professional horseman for his visitation. Saddles, boots, numerous square bales of hay, partial fence structures and even a live horse in a make-shift temporary corral transformed much of the décor of the funeral home.
  • For the funeral of an avid hunter, the florist turned the funeral home chapel altar into a hunting blind, and the deceased’s hunting dogs were nearby in hunting position.
  • The funeral service for a cycling enthusiast displayed the decedent’s road bike and cycling medals next to the casket. At the cemetery, members from his cycling club escorted the hearse carrying his casket from the cemetery gates to the gravesite.
  • Photographs can easily personalize a service. Today, it is commonplace to feature not only photographs but also video tributes during the visitation.

Also, receptions at the funeral home, cemetery, or the family’s home after the service, are more the case today than the exception. Often, these receptions are personalized with food favorites of the decedent. “Shared meals have brought families together around funeral services since the beginning of time,” added Bryan Michael. “Traditional or contemporary, the funeral reception allows family and friends to continue spending time together sharing memories and comfort.”

For a further personalized approach, a certified funeral celebrant may be the more appropriate choice. Funeral celebrants specialize in creating a funeral ceremony experience that uniquely expresses the personality, lifestyle and interests of the person it honors. By working closely with you, the celebrant discovers your loved one through the stories you share. He or she can then design a fitting funeral service that incorporates your loved one’s interests or legacy through special and creative details. A personal eulogy, the perfect venue, thematic decorations, a special song or thoughtful keepsakes all may be part of a memorable funeral service planned and provided by a funeral celebrant.

Article provided by:
Bryan Michael, Funeral Director
Howell Edwards Doerksen with Rigdon Ransom Funeral Directors

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