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  • Writer's pictureAura Flights

The Significance of Personalising a Memorial

When someone we love passes away, it can be important to us that we have a funeral or memorial service to celebrate their life. While some funerals, such as those held at places of worship, may have been the most common in the past, there is no one way to hold a funeral or memorial service - throughout history, after-death traditions have varied hugely between cultures, and today, fewer people hold religious beliefs than ever before.

It is common for people to have their own thoughts on how they would like to be celebrated after their death, whether in a place of worship, outdoors, or at the home of a loved one, for example.

Burial mound with flowers in graveyard

It is important to remember that there are no wrong decisions and there is no wrong way to hold a funeral or memorial service. They are incredibly personal occasions, intended to celebrate the deceased and bring comfort to their close friends and family - the most important thing is that it is right for you. It is also important to talk to your loved ones if you have any particular wishes for after your death, and you may even want to include these in your will. Having end-of-life plans can make things a lot easier for your loved ones when they are planning your funeral or memorial service.


Why You Might Personalise a Funeral or Memorial Service


Everyone is Different

Just like in life, everyone has different opinions and feelings on death and what comes after it. A lot of people have specific wishes regarding their funeral or memorial arrangements, in which case their loved ones can personalise their service accordingly.

Religion

More people than ever hold secular beliefs, and even amongst religious people, there are variations between different religions when it comes to after-death traditions. Religion is among the most common reasons for personalising a funeral - for example, a Christian is likely to have a church funeral whereas a non-religious person might have their service at a crematorium instead.


How to Personalise a Service

Choosing a Funeral or Memorial

The first thing to decide is whether the service will be a funeral, with the deceased's body present, or a memorial, where the deceased's body is not there. This could mean that they are there in the form of ashes, or they may not be there physically at all. This is down to personal preference, as for some people it is very important to have their loved one physically present while they say goodbye to them and celebrate their life, whereas some would rather do this after they have been buried or cremated. Similarly, the deceased may have had a plan or written instructions of the arrangements that they would like to be made after their death.

lit tealights

Many people opt to have both a funeral service and memorial, in the form of a wake following the funeral. Alternatively, some people choose to have a funeral and a memorial service at a later date, which may be more informal and held at a close friend or family member's house. This might be so that anyone unable to attend the funeral still gets a chance to celebrate the deceased's life, or just because it is what the deceased wanted.


Readings and the Eulogy

The eulogy is a central part of many funeral and memorial services. It provides loved ones with an opportunity to share their feelings, as well as their fondest memories and details about their relationship with the deceased, among other things. This is often the most personalised part of the service as it is usually written by the children, parents, partner, or a close friend of the deceased.

However, it is up to the deceased's loved ones to decide who reads it at the service: while many people may opt to read a eulogy they have written, it is not uncommon for the officiant of the ceremony or for another friend or family member to read it instead, as it can be very hard for those close to the deceased to speak at such a difficult time.

Person in a suit delivering a speech at a funeral

There is often a lot of personalisation when it comes to readings. Some people opt for religious passages, even if their service is not held at a place of worship; others may want excerpts from books they liked or their favourite poems; and many people choose a combination of all of these.

Similarly, the person who reads the chosen passages and the order they're spoken in provides more room for personalisation. An order of service is usually created which details all of this information.

Flowers, Music, and Photos

We often associate flowers with someone passing away. It is common for them to be sent to those who are grieving, placed on the coffin at a funeral, and laid on graves or at the site of a person's passing. Throwing dirt on someone's coffin before it is buried is common - but some people opt to throw flowers instead. This is just one example of how you can use flowers to personalise a memorial.

Both the type of flowers and how they are used are great ways to personalise the event, especially in cases where the deceased had a favourite flower or one that was particularly special to them.

Flowers atop a coffin with hearse in background

Hymns are a part of many traditional religious funeral services. It is common for people to still choose to include these even if the service is not held in a place of worship. It is also common to have a person's favourite song or songs that were special to them played - music can be a really meaningful way to personalise a service as we often form associations between certain music and memories of certain people.

Music is also a very important part of some people's lives, and when these people pass away it can be important to them to have music play at their funeral or memorial.

Photos can also be a significant addition. At a wake, for example, many people choose to put out a photo album of the deceased for guests to look through during the event. This is a simple way to personalise a memorial that can also be very meaningful, as it can help friends and family to share stories about the deceased and to celebrate their life.


Funeral Attire and the Officiant

It is traditional to wear black during a period of mourning. As such, many people choose this for themselves or their loved ones, and ask funeral or memorial attendees to wear black or other dark colours. Some people, however, want their funeral to be a celebration of their life rather than a day of mourning, and so ask for attendees to wear bright colours to reflect this.

There is no wrong way to organise a funeral or memorial service and wearing dark colours does not necessarily make the event less celebratory, but this is certainly something to think about when making end-of-life plans.

horse drawn hearse with rainbow livery and funeral director in rainbow suit with colourfully dressed funeral atendees

Funerals held at places of worship are generally officiated by a religious leader such as a vicar, rabbi, or imam, depending on the religion. However, if you hold a service at a different location, such as at a crematorium, a friend or family member of the deceased can officiate the service. You may also have family or friends who are religious leaders themselves, in which case you may wish for them to be the officiant for the service.

Again, this is really up to personal preference, and some people feel that having someone who knew the deceased as the officiant is a meaningful personal touch. However, you cannot always choose who officiates a service if it is held in a place of worship, so it is important to consider this before proceeding.


Location

One of the biggest ways of personalising a funeral or memorial service is the location. A common proceeding is to have a funeral service at a place of worship and, following this, a wake at a venue nearby. However, you can also have a funeral service at a crematorium, or outdoors, to name a few - there are no legal requirements for where you can or cannot host a funeral, provided that the venue agrees to the service taking place.

Coffin in front of a large tree with chairs for a funeral service in the foreground

On the other hand, the location of a memorial is perhaps easier to personalise, as it is practically easier to host at a range of locations when there is not a casket or coffin to be transported.

You can host a memorial at a town or church hall, a hotel, cemetery, a local park or garden, restaurant, or a family home - really, at any place of significance to the deceased or those close to them.

Personalising the location of the service is a great way to feel connected to the deceased and to honour them. If you think you would like a specific location for your own funeral or memorial service, it is definitely something to consider talking to your loved ones about or getting in writing so that they are aware of your wishes when you have passed away.


What Happens After the Funeral

A common decision to make when considering end-of-life plans is whether to be buried or cremated. If you have a funeral, this will often immediately follow the service, and if you opt to just have a memorial, then this will usually happen before the service takes place.

There is slightly less room for personalisation when it comes to burial, but you can still choose whether to be buried at a religious site, in a cemetery, or at a natural burial site, among others. While these are not the only options for burial, they are by far the most common. When it comes to cremation, however, there is almost endless room for personalisation.

It is common for people to have their ashes buried, in an interment of ashes, or to have them scattered in a place that was significant to them during their life. However, there is a range of ways that you can personalise the scattering of ashes.

For some people, it is important to have their ashes scattered in a way that is considerate of the environment. Others would like their ashes to not be scattered at all, but rather kept in an urn at a family home. Ashes can also be made into keepsakes, such as jewellery or a vinyl record, and you can even get memorial tattoos made out of ink mixed with a loved one's ashes.

At Aura Flights, we send ashes into space and scatter them over 100,000 feet above the Earth. From here, they travel around the globe for up to six months, and return in the form of rain or snowflakes. They fall all over, meaning that loved ones of the deceased can be with them no matter where in the world they may go.

Earth from space with the sun illuminating the Earths surface

Scattering ashes in space is a great way to personalise a memorial, either for those who were lovers of space, loved to travel, or just for those who would like their loved ones to feel their presence and comfort every time they look up at the sky. If you are interested in a memorial flight for yourself or for a loved one, please get in touch with our helpful and compassionate team who will be there to guide you through the process.


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