Death is an unwieldy subject, and most individuals would rather not talk about it openly. It has become taboo in our society, even though dying is just as natural as giving birth. It is the end of life and a destination that all humans are bound to get to, in time.
This is why, when death strikes, families scramble to make sense of their loved one’s passing. As a result, many factors are taken for granted. Chief of these is the program for the visitation and memorial service.
Because of the heaviness of their grief, families would often relegate the bulk of the task to the funeral homes. Though qualified to deal with the funerary rites, arrangements made by individuals outside the immediate family lack resonance with the deceased’s identity and personality.
It is much better to be hands-on and participate. Strive to be involved so that you can give your loved one the send-off that he/she deserves.
To guide you through this process, here are a few tips for arranging a visitation program and memorial service.
I. Choose a location that is convenient for friends and relatives.
Even small towns will have a list of funeral homes, churches, parks, community centers, and houses to hold services in. Make the location accessible for friends and relatives of the deceased who may be traveling from out of state. You will want to accommodate his/her friends who can share their experiences and stories interacting with him/her.
In the case of a memorial service, you may choose a location that was meaningful to the deceased, such as a restaurant, museum, beach, or concert hall to celebrate his/her life.
II. Provide ample time for relatives and friends to attend the wake.
Unless the deceased specifically included it in his/her final wishes, it always best to let friends and relatives know of the death and invite them to the wake to view the body for one last time, especially if budget is not an issue. They will also want to memorialize your loved one, and visiting will also help them process their grief.
Having individuals who have been in touch with your loved one’s and share your anxieties and grief will also be beneficial for you. They can provide you with the support and comfort that you need in this time of need.
Funeral homes often include this service in their offerings, and they can assist you with contacting friends and relatives.
III. Assign people to deliver eulogies or tributes.
If you are holding a visitation that will last for several days, you can opt to hold services every night. These can be officiated by a minister, priest, or your choice of religious (or non-religious) authority.
To further remember the deceased’s life and contributions, you can designate certain individuals to deliver eulogies or tributes every night, or you may only reserve this activity on the last day of the wake. Only make sure that the speakers have ample time to compose their speeches.
IV. Conduct activities that were significant to the deceased.
For the wake of a singer or theater actor, you may include a singing/jamming session in the program. Performers may be given a list of the deceased’s favorite songs and play them live, or you can choose to set up an audio and video player to replay the deceased’s past performances.
For an avid runner, you may also hold a run after the funeral that bears his/her name. You can make this an annual event to remember and memorialize the deceased’s life vividly.
Whatever arrangement you choose, always remember that there are people who are willing to help you go through this difficult time. Funeral Homes will often have a list of grief counselors on hand should you need them. They can also offer assistance to you and your family regarding insurance claim benefits and the division of wills and trusts.
If you think you cannot take anymore, it is alright to delegate duties to someone else. Help is available, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed for asking for it.