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A Guide to Writing a Memorial Ceremony

Memorial ceremony for a loved one

A Guide to Writing a Memorial Ceremony

How to Create A Meaningful Memorial Ceremony For Your Loved One

At the Irish Ethical Celebrants Society, we are deeply saddened that people cannot have the funerals they want for their loved ones during this difficult time. We want to let you know that our members are here to support you, and to help you give your loved ones the tribute they deserve. 

We have put together a little guide that will help you create a memorial ceremony for your loved one when you are ready. This guide will show you how to make your ceremony personal and meaningful. 

Make Everyone Welcome. It sounds obvious, but a few warm words of welcome will set the right tone for your ceremony. Mention important family members and acknowledge people who have travelled. Let people know what’s going to happen during the ceremony, as they might not have been to a memorial ceremony before. 

Choose the Right Words. Did your loved one have a favourite poem or enjoy scribbling their own poetry? You can include those poems as readings during the ceremony. Or you can choose readings that match your loved one’s personality and beliefs, like a poem about a place they love or a prayer that comforted them. 

Gather Your Memories. The memories you share will be the centrepiece of your ceremony. You can nominate a family member to give a eulogy, telling the story of your loved one’s life. Or you can invite a few people – family, friends, work colleagues – to tell stories that capture the essence of the person.   

Add Musical Moments. Music speaks to the soul, and it taps into powerful memories and emotions. That’s why adding your loved one’s favourite music will add such richness to your ceremony. Did your loved one have a song they loved to sing? Asking everyone to sing along to that song at the end will lift everyone’s spirits and help you smile through your tears.

The Importance of Ritual. We all need ritual, and rituals are powerful symbols of love, faith and family. You can offer gifts that represent your loved one, like an item of clothing or a piece of jewellery. Or you can light candles, as a sign that your loved one’s light will never go out. 

Make Them Laugh. Your memorial service is a celebration of your loved one’s life, so do not be afraid to have a laugh. Tell the jokes your loved one would have told and share those funny anecdotes that you used to share around the dinner table. That way, you are defining the person by how they lived, not by how their lives ended. 

Give Thanks. Round off your ceremony by thanking everyone who came, especially those who travelled. This is also a good time to express your gratitude to anyone who helped you put your ceremony together. And above all, give thanks for your loved one’s life, and for all they gave to you. Giving thanks will give you comfort. 

We hope this guide will help you create the ceremony you want, will help you celebrate the life of your loved one, and that your memorial ceremony will give you comfort and closure.   Our members are available to conduct memorial ceremonies, or to offer guidance, support and advice to families who wish to hold their own private memorial ceremony.  

To download a copy of the guide please click here.

About the author

This guide was created by IECS member Derbhile Graham, a funeral and family celebrant based in Waterford. You will find her on http://www.celebrantderv.ie/

3 Comments
  • Clara
    Posted at 08:48h, 01 May Reply

    This is such a useful document with some great ideas which will really help families as they navigate through these sad times.

  • Marie Griffin
    Posted at 16:48h, 01 May Reply

    Hello Derv & thank you for sharing these outlines publicly here. We hope it will be helpful for anyone who wants to organise a celebration of life themselves. & of course you or any IECS celebrants can currently lead a ceremony online if anyone needs our services.

  • Maura
    Posted at 08:04h, 27 May Reply

    Hi Derbhile, thank you for sharing, omg this is an amazing document for anyone who needs help in a time of grief, step by step guidelines – keep up the great work as we need people like you in our lives to give us a hand when we feel most vunerable.
    I will for sure make anyone aware of this article if the need arises.

    Thax agina
    Maura Mackey

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