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Personalization

People standing next to a casket, holding white flowers

How to Personalize Healing Actions at a Funeral

By Educational, Meaningful Funerals, Personalization, Planning Tools

The funeral is a time to truly honor and remember a loved one’s life, but how can you personalize the service to reflect that special person’s personality, preferences, interests, and uniqueness? According to Dr. Alan Wolfelt, nationally respected grief counselor and author, there are 7 distinct elements to a funeral, and each one can be personalized. Today, let’s talk about how you can incorporate healing actions to personalize a loved one’s final tribute and create an event that is truly special and meaningful.

Person placing a memorial lantern with candle at a loved one's grave as a healing action

 First, Why Does Personalization Matter?

I encourage you to slow down, take a deep breath and focus on what is really important—what is essential—about the funeral you are planning. What is essential is the life that was lived and the impact that life had on family and friends. To honor that unique life, the funeral must also be unique.Over and over, families tell me that the best funerals are those that are personalized.”  – Dr. Alan Wolfelt

In a world focused on efficiency and getting things done as quickly as possible, the funeral is a moment to slow down and be thoughtful. When we do things too quickly, they can sometimes feel impersonal and hollow. That’s why personalization is key!

A personalized service beautifully and lovingly honors a life. It creates a sweet moment of remembrance, a time to say goodbye, a unique acknowledgement that a person’s life mattered in all the big and small ways. Now, let’s talk about healing actions and their vital role in personalizing a funeral or memorial service!

People standing next to a casket, holding white flowers

How to Personalize Healing Actions at a Funeral

During times of grief, healing actions allow us to put our inward feelings into outward action. For example, it’s therapeutic to take flowers to a loved one’s grave or write down what we’re feeling or sit down to chat with a friend about cherished memories. These types of actions help us heal. But how can you incorporate healing actions into a funeral service?

1. Add a group activity

One option is to create an activity that everyone can participate in. For example, provide notecards for mourners to write down memories to share with the grieving family. Create a group photo collage by requesting that people bring a photo of themselves with the person who has died. If your loved one was an RC plane hobbyist, ask their buddies to do a flyover at the graveside service. Set a theme – a favorite color, movie, sports team – and ask mourners to dress accordingly. There are many ways to invite people into healing actions while keeping it simple.

2. Include a release or lighting ceremony

With a release ceremony, the idea is to release something into the sky, as a symbolic way of releasing a loved one’s spirit to heaven. You could choose to release butterflies, doves, or whatever else makes sense for your family (as long as it doesn’t harm the environment). On the other hand, a lighting ceremony allows mourners to light candles of remembrance in honor of the person who has died. Talk with your funeral director about your options and find what works best for your needs.

White doves for a release ceremony

3. Ask people to participate in specific roles

Throughout the funeral or memorial service, there will be opportunities for people to step in and participate in healing actions. You could ask family or friends to act as eulogists, readers, singers, musicians, or pallbearers. If you plan to host a gathering after the service, consider potluck style and request that people bring dishes. Ask friends to act as greeters or ushers. Active participation will make people feel included and like they truly had a chance to honor that special person.

4. Incorporate traditional healing elements

Finally, there is great comfort in tradition. Feel free to include customary healing actions, like a funeral procession, viewing of the body, visitation, or graveside service. The ultimate goal is that mourners feel they have been part of a proper sendoff and said goodbye in a way that brings peace. Speak with your funeral director about including traditional healing elements in the service so you can decide which ones make the most sense for your loved one’s final tribute.

Woman with long brown hair standing next to a casket, placing her hand tenderly on the top of it

Questions to Help You Brainstorm

Perhaps ideas are already coming to mind about how you can incorporate healing actions into the final tribute – that’s great! However, for those who may be drawing a blank, here are a few questions to help you brainstorm what kinds of actions you could include at a service.

  • Did your loved one enjoy a particular sport/activity that could be included?
  • Is there something special you could release?
  • Would you like to set a theme?
  • Were they of a profession where a special tribute could be included (police officer, fireman, veteran, etc.)?

Hopefully, these questions will trigger some ideas for you and give you a good starting place for selecting actions that will not only personalize the funeral but add special meaning. And if you are stumped, your funeral director can help. They are your advocate and guide throughout the funeral planning process. They can provide much-needed assistance when you just aren’t sure what to do next.

For additional inspiration, here are more articles on healing actions that may help:

How to Personalize Symbols at a Funeral

By Explore Options, Meaningful Funerals, Personalization, Planning Tools

The funeral is a time to truly honor and remember a loved one’s life, but how can you personalize the service to reflect that special person’s personality, preferences, interests, and uniqueness? According to Dr. Alan Wolfelt, nationally respected grief counselor and author, there are 7 distinct elements to a funeral, and each one can be personalized. Today, let’s talk about how you can use symbols to personalize a loved one’s final tribute and create an event that is truly special and meaningful.

Urn resting in a circle of red roses, acting as a symbol for a gathering of mourners

 First, Why Does Personalization Matter?

I encourage you to slow down, take a deep breath and focus on what is really important—what is essential—about the funeral you are planning. What is essential is the life that was lived and the impact that life had on family and friends. To honor that unique life, the funeral must also be unique. Over and over, families tell me that the best funerals are those that are personalized.”  – Dr. Alan Wolfelt

In a world focused on efficiency and getting things done as quickly as possible, the funeral is a moment to slow down and be thoughtful. When we do things too quickly, they can sometimes feel impersonal and hollow. That’s why personalization is key!

A personalized service beautifully and lovingly honors life. It creates a sweet moment of remembrance, a time to say goodbye, a unique acknowledgement that a person’s life mattered in all the big and small ways. Now, let’s talk about symbols and their role in personalizing a funeral or memorial service!

Pallbearers carrying casket into church for funeral service

How to Personalize Symbols at a Funeral

Symbols are an important aspect of a funeral because they convey love and comfort, facilitate expression, and offer a focus point for the bereaved. Common symbols are an appropriate religious symbol, flowers, personal items, candles, or whatever feels best to honor your loved one.

1. Include appropriate religious symbols

For people of faith, consider including religious symbols at the service. At a Catholic or Protestant Christian funeral, this could mean placing the Bible or a cross in a prominent location. For Jewish funerals, perhaps you could include the Star of David or read meaningful passages from the Torah.  Depending on the religion the person followed, there are many possible symbols to incorporate that would honor their beliefs. If the person whose life you want to celebrate wasn’t religious, check out How to Plan a Healing Funeral if You Are Not Religious.

2. Include cultural or traditional elements

Another possible source for symbols is cultural or traditional elements. For example, it’s customary in the United States to place the casket or urn in a place of prominence so that it will be the focal point of a service. Or you could have a funeral procession, which acts as a symbol of respect and final rest. Drape a flag over a veteran’s casket or urn. Also, consider including cultural elements. For example, in many Asian countries, white is the color of mourning. You may choose to include white flowers or white accents to honor that tradition.

Woman wearing black holding white chrysanthemums

3. Turn special items into symbols

If you’d like an even more personal option, you can turn special items into symbols. For one grieving family, an appropriate symbol was the quilts their grandmother made. Before her death, she made a quilt for every child and grandchild, and at her final tribute, the quilts were displayed on the pews – a representation of her love and impact on her family. You could use a prized record collection, personal artwork, or even bring their Harley-Davidson into the venue.

4. Invite guests to participate

If you’d like to add a much broader symbolic element to a loved one’s final tribute, consider inviting guests to participate. You could ask everyone to wear the deceased’s favorite color. If they were a Harry Potter or Star Wars fan, ask people to wear something in that theme. You could ask guests to bring in a favorite photo to add to a group collage set up near the casket or urn. There are so many ways to include others in adding meaningful symbolism to a funeral service.

Military service member holding a folded American flag

Questions to Help You Brainstorm

If ideas aren’t coming to mind already, here are a few questions to help you brainstorm what kinds of symbols you could include at a service.

  • Are there any traditional funeral elements that bring you comfort?
  • Is there a part of your cultural or religious background that should be included?
  • Did your loved one collect anything?
  • Was your loved one part of any groups that have recognizable symbols?
  • Did their choice of career include any symbols, such as a stethoscope for a doctor?

Hopefully, these questions will trigger some ideas for you and give you a good starting place for choosing symbols that will not only personalize the funeral but add special meaning as well. And if you are stumped, your funeral director can help. They are your advocate and guide throughout the funeral planning process. They can provide much-needed assistance when you just aren’t sure what to do next.

Microphone ready for eulogy; white and red flowers and chairs in the background

How to Personalize the Eulogy at a Funeral

By Meaningful Funerals, Personalization, Planning Tools

The funeral is a time to truly honor and remember a loved one’s life, but how can you personalize the service to reflect that special person’s personality, preferences, interests, and uniqueness? According to Dr. Alan Wolfelt, nationally respected grief counselor and author, there are 7 distinct elements to a funeral, and each one can be personalized. Today, let’s talk about different ways you can personalize the eulogy and create an event that is truly special and meaningful.

Closed wooden casket with flowers and a podium nearby

 First, Why Does Personalization Matter?

I encourage you to slow down, take a deep breath and focus on what is really important—what is essential—about the funeral you are planning. What is essential is the life that was lived and the impact that life had on family and friends. To honor that unique life, the funeral must also be unique. Over and over, families tell me that the best funerals are those that are personalized.”  – Dr. Alan Wolfelt

In a world focused on efficiency and getting things done as quickly as possible, the funeral is a moment to slow down and be thoughtful. When we do things too quickly, they can sometimes feel impersonal and hollow. That’s why personalization is key!

A personalized service beautifully and lovingly honors life. It creates a sweet moment of remembrance, a time to say goodbye, a unique acknowledgement that a person’s life mattered in all the big and small ways.  Now, let’s talk about eulogies and their vital role in personalizing a funeral or memorial service!

Microphone ready for eulogy; white and red flowers and chairs in the background

How to Personalize the Eulogy at a Funeral

In many ways, the eulogy may be the single most important aspect of a loved one’s service. It’s a time to acknowledge and affirm the significance of their life. A time to share memories, to reflect on important life lessons, and to celebrate who they were as a unique individual. The eulogy can be delivered by a clergy person, a family member, or even by a series of people, and it’s important to be thoughtful and intentional about the tribute you give.

1. Share cherished memories

When crafting a eulogy, consider what comes to mind when you think about the person who has died. What are your most significant memories with them? If they were a prankster, share their best jokes or tricks. For animal lovers, talk about beloved pets. If there are family memories that bring joy, paint a picture of those moments. Were they a board game enthusiast? Give the audience a retelling of an epic game. You can go many different directions with the eulogy, based on your loved one’s life and the most meaningful moments you shared.

2. Highlight community involvement

Some people are known for their contribution to the community, and it would be remiss not to mention their volunteer work. You might consider also asking fellow volunteers or organization leaders to step up and give a short eulogy. Alternatively, if your loved had a career that positively impacted others, you could invite colleagues to say a few words. No matter where they volunteered or how they gave back to the community, there are people who can speak to that specific aspect of your loved one’s life and honor their commitment and dedication to a cause.

Funeral service at church with speaker in front

3. Bring visual aids

Another option for personalizing the eulogy is to bring visual aids. This might sound a little odd at first, but visual aids can increase the impact of the eulogy. For example, if you are sharing memories, bring a slideshow of related photos and use them to emphasize your storytelling. Or, if your loved one was an artist, bring a particularly meaningful project with you and share its significance. There are so many items you could bring as visual aids. You could bring anything from crafts like quilts to sports equipment like golf clubs or a fishing pole. The funeral home can even work with you to bring in larger visual aids, such as a motorcycle or something similar.

4. Use your personal talents to create a unique tribute

Sometimes, words aren’t enough, and we must express ourselves in other ways. If you are a songwriter, you could compose a song in honor of your loved one and include it in your eulogy. For those who are more artistic, consider painting, drawing, or building something that showcases your love for the person who has died and share its meaning in the eulogy. Are you a dancer? Choreograph a routine to the tune of your loved one’s favorite song. While the eulogy is about honoring the person who has died, it’s also about your grief journey and how you want to honor their life. Don’t be afraid to use your talents to say goodbye.

Man playing piano to honor a loved one

Questions to Help You Brainstorm

If ideas aren’t coming to mind already, here are a few questions to help you brainstorm what you could include in a meaningful eulogy at a service.

  • Are there any memories that are particularly meaningful to you?
  • Did you and your loved one share a hobby or interest?
  • Was your loved one involved in community work?
  • If people were to describe your loved one, what would they say?
  • Were they passionate about something in particular?
  • Were they family-famous for anything?

Hopefully, these questions will trigger some ideas for you and give you a good starting place for crafting a eulogy that will honor your loved one’s life beautifully. And if you are stumped, your funeral director can help. They are your advocate and guide throughout the funeral planning process. They can provide much-needed assistance when you just aren’t sure what to do next.

For additional inspiration, here are more articles on eulogies that may help:

Pallbearers carrying a wooden casket with purple flowers resting on top

How to Personalize the Visitation at a Funeral

By Educational, Explore Options, Meaningful Funerals, Personalization, Planning Tools

The funeral is a time to truly honor and remember a loved one’s life, but how can you use personalization to reflect that special person’s personality, preferences, interests, and uniqueness? According to Dr. Alan Wolfelt, nationally respected grief counselor and author, there are 7 distinct elements to a funeral, and each one can be personalized. Today, let’s talk about how you can personalize the visitation and create an event that is truly special and meaningful.

Pallbearers carrying a wooden casket with purple flowers resting on top

 First, Why Does Personalization Matter?

I encourage you to slow down, take a deep breath and focus on what is really important—what is essential—about the funeral you are planning. What is essential is the life that was lived and the impact that life had on family and friends. To honor that unique life, the funeral must also be unique. Over and over, families tell me that the best funerals are those that are personalized.”  – Dr. Alan Wolfelt

In a world focused on efficiency and getting things done as quickly as possible, the funeral is a moment to slow down and be thoughtful. When we do things too quickly, they can sometimes feel impersonal and hollow. That’s why personalization is key!

A personalized service beautifully and lovingly honors life. It creates a sweet moment of remembrance, a time to say goodbye, a unique acknowledgement that a person’s life mattered in all the big and small ways. Now, let’s talk about the visitation and its role in personalizing a funeral or memorial service!

African American man placing his hand on a loved one's casket at a funeral

How to Personalize a Visitation at a Funeral

The viewing or visitation is a time for family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to gather, to express support, to offer sympathy, and to remember someone loved. Plus, it’s the perfect time for personalization – an opportunity to tell the story of a lifetime. But how would you personalize the visitation?

1. Display Special Items

Every life is unique, so by including special items, you can create a one-of-a-kind remembrance event. You could display photos or mementoes from significant events or vacations. Additionally, you could include items associated with an interest or hobby, like books, artwork, ceramics, or model airplanes. What was your loved one interested in? Use those facets of their life to personalize the visitation.

2. Get Guests Involved

Another option for creating a personalized visitation is to provide opportunities for guests to get involved and share their own special memories and experiences with the deceased. For example, you could provide notecards where they can write down a memory. Or you could bring a portrait, photobook, or even a coffee table book and ask people to write notes of remembrance or record cherished moments. Alternatively, you could create a memorial work of art together, like a thumbprint tree. There are so many possibilities to consider.

Person holding a pen and writing a message on a notecard

3. Decorate on Theme

Another meaningful option to consider is using a theme for the visitation. If your loved one loved the color mint, when you put together the service announcement, ask people to wear that color to the visitation. Or include a refreshments table with mints, chocolate mint cookies, and mint-colored photo frames. For some, a color theme wouldn’t make sense, so consider alternative themes, like sports teams, favorite movies or books, country music, or anything else that reflects your loved one’s unique life.

4. Offer a Keepsake Token

A keepsake is something that family and friends can take home as a special reminder of a loved one. For example, if your loved one was a voracious reader, consider taking some of their books to the visitation with a note, saying, “Susan loved to read. Please take and read one of her books in honor of her memory.” You can do this with recipes, seed packets, postcards, collection items – almost anything! In this way, your loved one’s memory lives on in many homes and hearts.

Small pile of postcards

Questions to Help You Brainstorm

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, here are a few questions to help you brainstorm what you can do to personalize the visitation.

  • Did your loved one collect anything?
  • Were they passionate about a particular team, hobby, movie, book, or play?
  • Did they travel? Are there any photos or places they loved?
  • Were they artistic? If so, you could display completed projects.
  • Is there a particular color you associate with them?
  • Did they enjoy baking? Include their family-famous recipes as refreshments.

Hopefully, these questions will trigger some ideas for you and give you a good starting place for identifying ways that you can personalize the visitation to reflect your loved one’s individuality. And if you are feeling overwhelmed, speak with a funeral director. They have personalized many funerals during their career and can offer much-needed assistance when you just aren’t sure what to do next.

Man and woman standing at visitation, honoring a loved one's life

For additional inspiration, here are more articles about personalization that may help:

Man holding an open book

How to Personalize Readings at a Funeral

By Educational, Explore Options, Meaningful Funerals, Personalization, Planning Tools

The funeral is a time to truly honor and remember a loved one’s life, but how can you personalize the service to reflect that special person’s personality, preferences, interests, and uniqueness? According to Dr. Alan Wolfelt, nationally respected grief counselor and author, there are 7 distinct elements to a funeral, and each one can be personalized. Today, let’s talk about how you can use readings to personalize a loved one’s final tribute and create an event that is truly special and meaningful.  

Open hardback book with blue spine

 First, Why Does Personalization Matter?  

I encourage you to slow down, take a deep breath and focus on what is really important—what is essential—about the funeral you are planning. What is essential is the life that was lived and the impact that life had on family and friends. To honor that unique life, the funeral must also be unique. Over and over, families tell me that the best funerals are those that are personalized.”  – Dr. Alan Wolfelt 

In a world focused on efficiency and getting things done as quickly as possible, the funeral is a moment to slow down and be thoughtful. When we do things too quickly, they can sometimes feel impersonal and hollow. That’s why personalization is key!  

A personalized service beautifully and lovingly honors life. It creates a sweet moment of remembrance, a time to say goodbye, a unique acknowledgement that a person’s life mattered in all the big and small ways. Now, let’s talk about readings and their vital role in personalizing a funeral or memorial service 

Man holding an open book

How to Personalize Readings at a Funeral

Readings are a way to invite mourners to express their emotions while also honoring the unique spirit of the one who has died. They add a deeper dimension to the service and allow you to engage together through the power of words. Sometimes, the right words don’t come to mind, but a book, a poem, or a verse can express the heart much more eloquently.

1. Recite quotes from favorite books, plays, poems, movies, or TV shows

When using literary or entertainment sources to personalize a service, consider what your loved one enjoyed. Did they love Emily Dickinson poems? Read a few. Did they regularly quote Star Trek or The Princess Bride? Take those quotes and turn them into a tribute. Is there a poem that has always reminded you of your loved one? Read the poem and share how it reflects that special person’s life or personality.

2. Include select passages from an appropriate holy book

For loved ones who lived out a deep faith, consider including select passages from the holy book they cherished. When a loved one dies, those left behind to mourn sometimes have a crisis of faith. They search for meaning and ask questions like, “What is the meaning of life?” “Should I do things differently?” “What happens next?” Faith can bring comfort when things feel out of control. Plus, including religious quotations can honor and respect that aspect of your loved one’s life.

Person sitting outside, writing on a pad of paper

3. Share something you have written to honor a loved one

If you enjoy writing or feel inspired, consider putting your thoughts and feelings on paper. Whether you compose a letter, a poem, an essay, or a haiku, you can use your own words to honor a loved one’s memory. Of course, the topic of your composition is entirely up to you, but feel free to be creative. And don’t forget to have someone else review your work before you read it at the service. It’s always a good idea to have a second set of eyes on any written text – just in case.

4. Read excerpts of your loved one’s personal writing

On the flip side, was your lost loved one a writer? If it feels appropriate, consider sharing excerpts of their own words. This is a beautiful way to highlight their personality and the unique perspective they had about the world. Sometimes, when a person has a terminal illness, they may write their own obituary or a letter or a poem about their experience. These writings may also be meaningful to share at a personalized service.

Young woman sitting at a table at home, listening to music and writing

Questions to Help You Brainstorm

If poems, quotes, or other reading selections aren’t coming to mind already, here are a few questions to help you brainstorm what kinds of readings you could include at a service.  

  • Did your loved one love any certain book, movie, poem, or TV show?
  • Were they known to quote anything regularly?
  • Did they have any favorite author, poet, or writer?
  • Were they a writer themselves – either personal or published?
  • Is there a literary or entertainment piece that always reminds you of them?

Hopefully, these questions will trigger some ideas for you and give you a good starting place for selecting readings that will not only personalize the funeral but add special meaning as well. And if you are stumped, your funeral director can help. They are your advocate and guide throughout the funeral planning process. They can provide much-needed assistance when you just aren’t sure what to do next.  

For additional inspiration, here are more articles on readings that may help: 

How to Personalize Music at a Funeral

By Educational, Explore Options, Meaningful Funerals, Personalization, Planning Tools

The funeral is a time to honor and remember a loved one’s life, but how can you personalize the service to reflect that person’s personality, preferences, interests, and uniqueness? According to Dr. Alan Wolfelt, nationally respected grief counselor and author, there are 7 distinct elements to a funeral, and each one can be personalized. Today, let’s talk about how you can use music to personalize a loved one’s final tribute and create an event that is truly special and meaningful.

Older man playing a violin

 First, Why Does Personalization Matter?

I encourage you to slow down, take a deep breath and focus on what is really important—what is essential—about the funeral you are planning. What is essential is the life that was lived and the impact that life had on family and friends. To honor that unique life, the funeral must also be unique. Over and over, families tell me that the best funerals are those that are personalized.”  – Dr. Alan Wolfelt

In a world focused on efficiency and getting things done as quickly as possible, the funeral is a moment to slow down and be thoughtful. When we do things too quickly, they can sometimes feel impersonal and hollow. That’s why personalization is key!

A personalized service beautifully and lovingly honors life. It creates a sweet moment of remembrance, a time to say goodbye, a unique acknowledgement that a person’s life mattered in all the big and small ways. Now, let’s talk about music and its vital role in personalizing a funeral or memorial service!

Banjo laying on top of sheet music

How to Personalize Music at a Funeral

Music sets the tone of a funeral or memorial service and brings emotions to the forefront. In fact, one of the purposes of a funeral is to allow mourners to grieve together, and in many ways, music says what words cannot. We often shy away from our emotions, but don’t be afraid to invite people to express their grief. Consider using music as an avenue to bring out what people are thinking and feeling. Plus, you can add a deeply personal touch by selecting music that was dear to the person who has died.  

1. Choose songs that are meaningful, no matter their musical genre

Traditionally, hymns and other religious songs are often played at a funeral, but that doesn’t have to be the case. To add a personal touch, instead choose songs that are meaningful to you or to the loved one who has died. Did they love Fleetwood Mac? Play “Gypsy.” Did they always sing “You are My Sunshine” to the grandkids? Then, find your favorite version and play it. There’s no right or wrong genre of music for a funeral. There’s simply what is meaningful to you and your family.

2. Decide between live music or recorded music

For the grieving process, there’s no difference between going with live or recorded music, so it’s entirely up to your preference. Was your loved one part of a barbershop quartet? Ask their fellow quartet members to sing a number. Do you have a musically talented family member? Then you might consider asking them to perform live. Alternatively, you can create a digital playlist of songs that will play during the gathering or visitation. And if you want to do a mix of live and recorded music, go for it! The funeral director will help you coordinate all the fine details of the service.

Person holding a smartphone that displays a digital music playlist

3. Include songs that honor personal or religious beliefs

As you plan a funeral or memorial service, you should keep your loved one’s preferences at the front of your mind. If they were a religious person, consider including hymns or praise songs. If they were a veteran, perhaps play their military branch’s official song, such as “Anchors Aweigh” for the Navy or “The Army Goes Rolling Along” for the Army. Consider the organizations your loved one was involved with – are there any songs that would be a meaningful addition to the service?

4. Share clips of your loved one’s musical talents

If your loved one was musically talented themselves, consider finding a way to include their musical giftings at the service. Do you have recordings of them singing or playing an instrument? Incorporate that footage into a memorial tribute video. Alternatively, you can play any recordings during the service or visitation. Did they write lyrics or put together musical arrangements? Play those songs. If you aren’t sure how to include a loved one’s musical stylings at the service, speak with your funeral director. They can help you brainstorm ideas.

Woman in church choir singing a solo

Questions to Help You Brainstorm

If songs haven’t already started popping into your head, here are a few questions to help you brainstorm which songs to include at a service.

  • Did your loved one play any songs over and over again?
  • Did they have any favorite artists?
  • Were they known for singing any particular songs?
  • Did they have a favorite instrument?
  • Did they have a preferred music genre (classical, rock, Motown, etc.)?
  • Is there a song that always reminds you of them?

Hopefully, these questions will trigger some ideas for you and give you a good starting place for selecting music that will not only personalize the funeral but add special meaning as well. And again, if you are stumped, look to your funeral director. They are your advocate and guide throughout the funeral planning process. They can provide much-needed assistance when you just aren’t sure what to do next.

Music sheets folded into half circles

For additional inspiration, here are more articles on music that may help:

Casket surrounded by floral arrangements, including floral scarf of red and white flowers

6 Ways to Personalize a Casket

By Explore Options, Meaningful Funerals, Personalization, Planning Tools

When planning a funeral service, the best way to create a truly unique, one-of-a-kind experience is to add personalized touches throughout the events. That might mean selecting special music, choosing a theme (like a certain color or pop culture reference), allowing family and friends to share memories, including hobby items or collectibles – there are so many options. But did you know that you can also personalize the casket itself? Let’s talk about 6 ways you can do it!

silver gray casket with casket spray of red roses lying on top

1. Choose a Color or Theme

If you have a specific vision for the perfect casket, all you need to do is speak with your chosen funeral home about your ideas. Whether you’d like a specific color (like purple, pink, or even zebra) or you’d like a specific theme (like space, John Deere tractors, or unicorns), the funeral director can work with you to ensure that your preferences are accommodated. You can also request custom head panel or lining fabric to complete the personalization.

2. Commission a Specific Shape

While the four-sided casket is the most popular choice in the United States, you can commission a specific shape. For instance, if you’d like a casket shaped like an M&M candy, a Viking longship, or even a pineapple, you can request it. Of course, it will take extra time and money to create a custom casket. With that in mind, speak with your funeral director to discuss the best way to move forward with a custom shape and how that may affect the timing of funeral services.

Bright blue casket with silver accents to showcase a custom casket idea

3. Add Etchings or Photos

Another option for personalizing a casket is to add etchings or photos to it. While photos are somewhat self-explanatory (you choose the ones you want to include), etchings may require a little explanation. With etchings, you can include any type of symbol you want – religious symbols, pop culture references, crests, anything you wish. You will work closely with the funeral director as you create the perfect design for your custom casket.

4. Place Special Items Inside the Casket

If you are looking for a way to personalize the casket without putting in a custom order, you can! Because the casket often has space along the sides or at the foot, it’s possible to bury a loved one with meaningful possessions. For example, you can include photos, special mementos, jewelry, stuffed animals, and other small items. If the person was a firefighter, you could include their helmet or a flag from their station. If they were a veteran, you can include any medals or special honors they received.

Casket draped with American flag at funeral service

5. Drape a Casket Blanket or Flag

When the casket is closed, you can always drape a casket blanket or flag over it to add personalization. A casket blanket is a beautifully designed floral arrangement that looks like a blanket and drapes over the casket. They are available in a variety of colors and create a truly stunning addition to the service. However, you can also use other items to drape over the casket. For example, you can drape a flag of any kind – an American flag, a sports team flag, an organization, etc. Also, if you’d like, you can also drape an actual blanket, like a quilt or throw. Whatever means the most to you and your family.

6. Select a Floral Accent

It’s quite common to accent a casket with a floral arrangement, but there are actually quite a few options to choose from. The casket blanket is one option, but you can also choose a casket spray, a floral garland, or a floral scarf.

  • Casket spray – most common; lays on top of the casket
  • Floral garland – flowers that are displayed at the hinge of an open casket; often constructed by binding together the arrangement with wire or tape until it is somewhat rope-like in appearance
  • Casket scarf – an arrangement that drapes over the top of the casket; displayed with fabric resembling a scarf

Casket surrounded by floral arrangements, including floral scarf of red and white flowers

As you can see, there are quite a few options for personalizing a casket. All you have to do is determine which ones make the most sense for your loved one and fit into your budget. At a time of loss, many families end up “emotionally overspending,” so before you commit to anything, speak with your funeral director about pricing and options.

Also, a quick note, it is possible to plan ahead for funeral wishes, so if you do want something specific for your casket, you can write those specifications down and set aside funds to pay for it. Set up a consultation with a funeral professional to learn more about how planning ahead for funeral wishes not only gives your family peace of mind, but it also gives you the opportunity to make your personal wishes known!

Woman choosing a color from a color wheel

Using Color to Personalize a Service

By Meaningful Funerals, Personalization, Plan Ahead, Planning Tools

Creating a personalized funeral or memorial service is the first step toward finding the healing and reconciliation you need after a loss. Why? Because if the service details truly reflect the hobbies, interests, personality, and quirks of the person who has died, then it feels like a true tribute – something with meaning, purpose, and poignancy. Using color can be a simple way to uniquely personalize a service – let’s look at a few examples.

4 Simple Ways to Use Color to Personalize a Service

While the color black has traditionally been associated with mourning in the western world, it’s not a hard and fast rule. In fact, in other areas of the world, white, red, purple, gray, and even gold are considered colors of mourning. With the increase in personalized services, it’s become much more accepted to use different colors, especially if that color has special significance.

Beautiful pink tulips

1. Select Specific Flowers

If you are decorating with flowers or accepting flowers as sympathy gifts, you could request a specific color. To be the most meaningful, select a color that is special in some way – either to you or to the one who has died. Or, if the deceased person loved pumpkins, succulents, or even tiny cactus plants, you could encourage well-wishers to give those, instead. Imagine how sweet it would look and feel to see a loved one’s service filled with the color that brought them so much joy in life.

Decorating with seashells and the color ivory

2. Decorate with Intentionality

Another option for using color to personalize is by choosing your decorations intentionally. If you choose to focus on a specific color, you can use it in a multitude of places. For example, you could display photo frames in that color. At the gathering or visitation, use tablecloths or centerpieces in that color. Place themed decorations on memorial tables. Provide a keepsake to mourners that showcases the theme color. The options are endless. Think on what the person loved and use that information to create something one-of-a-kind.

Four men wearing matching polka dot socks

3. Request that Mourners Wear a Certain Color

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to incorporate color into a service is to ask mourners to wear it. This way, when people attend the service, there’s a sea of pink, green, orange in honor of your loved one. If you’d rather focus on a theme than a color, you can. For instance, you could ask that mourners wear a certain team’s jersey, Star Wars gear, something with unicorns, or whatever is most appropriate. You can include the color/theme when you announce service details, whether that’s through the funeral home or a personal announcement on social media.

Bright green casket

4. Customize the Urn or Casket

Urns today come in many shapes, sizes, and hues. If you plan to have a memorial service after cremation, you can select an urn of a specific color. Simply speak with your trusted funeral home or go online to review your urn options.

As for caskets, there are a few different personalization options. First, you could request a certain color for the casket lining and pillow top. Second, you could customize the casket itself. Rather than selecting one of the standard colors or wood types, you could commission a casket of any color. Third, you can ask that the interior or cap panel (the rectangle of space just above the deceased when the casket is open) be customized. You could select a specific hue, or alternatively, some funeral homes can place a photo in this space.

If any of these options appeal to you, contact your trusted funeral home. They will help you get the answers you need.

What If I Don’t Know What Color to Choose?

If a color doesn’t immediately come to mind, that’s okay. You can either personalize the service in other ways, or you could even choose a color based on its meaning.

Woman choosing a color from a color wheel

  • Red – Energy, passion, strength, love, sincerity
  • Pink – Love and romance, caring, tenderness, acceptance
  • Beige – Calm and simplicity
  • Ivory – Quietness and pleasantness
  • Yellow – Joy, happiness, imagination, hope, friendship
  • Blue – Peace, tranquility, trust, harmony, loyalty
  • Purple – Spirituality, transformation, wisdom, honor
  • Lavender – Femininity, grace, elegance
  • Orange – Enthusiasm, warmth, vibrancy
  • Green – Renewal, generosity, service
  • Brown – Stability, hearth & home, comfort, reliability
  • Gray – Security, intelligence, dignity, modesty
  • White – Purity, peace, innocence, goodness

Ultimately, color is just one option for creating a meaningful service. Whether you are planning ahead for your own funeral wishes or are planning a loved one’s services, you have options. If you have a specific idea of what you’d like to do or you need a little help, your local funeral home can help. They can brainstorm with you, offer ideas and solutions, and help you create a tribute that feels right and good.

If you’d like to learn about other ways you can customize a service to create something truly unique, go to Practical Ways to Personalize the 7 Elements of a Funeral for inspiration.

Illustrates what an inscription would look like

6 Ways to Personalize a Memorial Marker

By Cemeteries, Explore Options, Meaningful Funerals, Memorial, Personalization, Planning Tools

When visiting a cemetery, it can seem like your options are limited when choosing a memorial marker, but that’s not true. There are many options for creating a personalized monument that will identify a loved one’s final resting place for generations to come. Today, let’s talk about why memorial markers matter and 6 different ways you can personalize a monument to create something unique and special.

Shows an example of a memorial marker

What is a Memorial Marker?

A memorial marker goes by many names. Tombstone. Headstone. Grave marker. Monument. It can get confusing quickly, so we will use “memorial marker” and “monument” for our purposes today.

If you’ve ever visited a cemetery, then you’ve seen memorial markers. It could be a plaque, an upright headstone, a footstone, or even occasionally a ledger stone, to name a few options. Typically, a memorial marker lists the deceased person’s name and life dates. Anything beyond that is customized.

Why is a Memorial Marker Important?

As human beings, when we lose someone we love, our feeling of connection to them continues, even though they are no longer with us physically. It is this connection that contributes to our feelings of loss, that makes it so difficult to process death and move toward healing and reconciliation.

Not only do memorial markers highlight the value of remembering people by name – names are so important – they also give us a place to go to feel close to the person who has died.

To learn more about why memorial markers and a final resting place can be valuable to families, especially when feelings of grief arise or anniversaries come around, check out 5 Reasons to Establish a Permanent Memorial.

Illustrates why a memorial marker is important as two young people visit a loved one's final resting place

6 Ways to Personalize a Memorial Marker

Now, let’s dive into 6 ways you can personalize a memorial marker to reflect a person’s unique life, personality, and preferences.

To help you decide what’s right for your needs and situation, consider which of these categories you want to focus on (or if you’d like to create a mix):

  • Choose elements that reflect personality (kind, giving, friendly)
  • Focus on family attributes (father, grandmother, uncle, sister)
  • Highlight achievements, hobbies, interests, or long-term commitments

With these categories in mind, let’s talk about personalizing a memorial marker.

1. Create a Personalized Inscription

Also called an epitaph, you can include a short message on the monument that has meaning and significance to everyone – family, friends, and the person who has died.

For instance, you could include:

  • A focus on family (“Beloved mother, sister, and friend”)
  • A poignant sentiment (“Forever in our hearts”)
  • A spiritual quote or verse for a person of faith
  • Pop culture references to music, movies, etc. (“May the Force be with you” or similar)

For a real-life example, one beloved grandmother included her famous fudge recipe on her memorial marker so that everyone who came by could make and enjoy it as much as she did. The possibilities are quite literally endless with how you can personalize the inscription.

Illustrates what an inscription would look like

2. Choose a Color

Next, let’s talk about color. Depending on what material you select, you can choose a color to personalize a memorial marker. Granite is the most popular monument material because it retains its shine for many years. It is available in black, blue, gray, pink, red, and more. If your loved one had an affinity for a certain color, you can ask your monument representative what your color options are.

Bronze is another common material used for memorial markers. Keep in mind, bronze will develop patina over time, resulting in a color change ranging from antiqued green to light or dark brown. Some people love this color change, and one more famous example of patina is the greenish hue that we now see on the Statue of Liberty.

3. Select a Shape

While most people choose a rectangular, square, or pointed top monument, memorial markers aren’t one-size-fits-all. Custom monuments come in many forms—from benches to unique shapes like hearts, books, arches, or even guitars.

If you have a specific vision for what shape you’d like the memorial marker to be, talk to the monument designers about the possibilities. They will discuss the cost and what’s possible when working with stone.

Shows one shape option for memorial markers

4. Add an Image or Symbol

If you’d like, you can request that the memorial marker feature a specific image or symbol. From animals and military insignia to pop culture references or nature scenes, anything is possible. The key is to pick something that is meaningful.

If you aren’t sure what kind of image to request, ask yourself, “Does my loved one have a well-known hobby? A pet who is always nearby? A deep faith? A favorite instrument or talent or sports team?” These types of questions will help you narrow down the options.

Monument companies will work with you on the design and help you create something that will bring your creative vision to life as you honor your loved one’s legacy.

5. Include a Photo

Similar to an image or symbol, you could add a photo (or photos) to personalize a memorial marker. Depending on your wishes, the photo could be etched (by hand or with a laser), or if you prefer to use a color photo, the image can be created in ceramic or porcelain and then permanently affixed to the marker in whatever size you want.

If you decide to include a photo, select one of your favorites and go over your wishes with the monument designer so they can create exactly what you want.

Shows a man leaving flowers at a loved one's memorial marker

6. Incorporate a QR Code

A new trend in memorial marker personalization is the QR code. The code is affixed to the marker, and when mourners or visitors scan the code, they view a website dedicated to that person’s life and legacy.

Imagine if you could scan a QR code for someone who died 100 years ago. It would be both amazing and interesting to read more about who they were and what their life was like.

Of course, this personalization option takes a little additional work on your part (you have to create a website), but it may be a good option for remembering and honoring your loved one’s life.

Do What’s Best for Your Family

The best thing about this whole discussion? There’s no right or wrong. If something traditional is right and good for your needs, do that. If a photo with inscription is best, do that. Would a book top with a literary quote be meaningful? Do that. It’s entirely up to you.

One final note as you consider the possibilities, remember to ask the cemetery representative if they have any specific regulations. Some cemeteries place firm restrictions on monument color and material.

Shows woman visiting a cemetery where there are monument regulations

Now, take some time to brainstorm. Talk to a funeral home or monument company to learn what the options are. Then, start creating a vision for a personalized memorial marker that makes the most sense for your family, your needs, and your loved one.

For more helpful information, make sure to read Selecting and Installing a Grave Marker.

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