How to Plan a Memorial Service to Honor the Departed

Often when a loved one dies, the immediate family members and friends are overwhelmed with grief. It takes time to come to terms with the departure of a loved one.

Funerals may leave you cold and extremely sad. Most funeral services are spiritual, hence conducted by religious leaders. 

After the burial, people find a way of accepting the events. When the head is clearer and the eyes a bit drier, loved ones of the departed can plan to celebrate the life of their loved ones through a memorial service.

What is a memorial service? A memorial service is a celebration event held in honor of the departed without the presence of the body. While in a few cases, a memorial celebration is held in a place of a typical funeral service; ideally, it is held after the burial or cremation. 

The ceremony can take place weeks or months after the death, allowing family and friends’ ample time to plan. Unlike funeral services, memorial services program are typically simpler and geared toward celebrating the departed life.

Families have the upper hand in decision-making. You can choose larger bouquets, wreaths, or sprays if your budget allows. Other people opt for less deco and low-budget occasions.

The goal is to celebrate the life of the departed loved one and take the attendees on a journey of the deceased life. 

Holding a well-organized memorial service is a unique personal tribute to the departed. See below how to organize a befitting memorial service in honor of the departed.

Settle on Your Style:

Memorial services are as simple or as formal as one can choose, depending on personal preference.

It can be as informal as a picnic in the park or elaborate as a wedding, complete with caterers, ushers, flowers, and a reception. You can decide on a themed occasion with a color scheme.

The style will also depend on the size of the gathering. Some people prefer small and intimate gatherings, and others love to open it to the larger community, hence a big crowd.

Since the memorial is about the deceased, consider their wishes and preferences. Family members’ finances and the budget are also major determinants of the kind and style of the event. It is also a good time to consider the deceased’s wishes and preferences. 

Decide if the memorial will allow children to attend. If they will ensure the program accommodates the little ones too. 

Pick a Venue

When considering a place to hold a memorial service, choose a place that is both convenient and meaningful. Memorial service venue possibilities are endless.

Pick a Venue

The event can happen anywhere from a private home, hotel, beach, public meeting space, park, church, or funeral home etiquette.

Like any other event, a memorial service venue will depend on practical factors like availability, budget, accessibility, and the number of attendees.

If the deceased was affiliated with a religion, a place of worship like a temple, mosque, or church is an ideal venue to celebrate their life.

The program of the place and activities like music, prayers, setting, and support from the community will go a long way in celebrating the deceased’s life.

Since places of worship serve the larger communities, you may need to reserve the officiating clergy and space months in advance.

However, as mentioned earlier, the memorial service can take place anywhere. Funeral homes can offer the venue at a cost. 

Holding a memorial service at home allows flexibility in visiting time, grieving, and the program. You can tailor the program to your liking as there are no regulations in your space.

Select Participants and Attendees
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If the house is your venue of choice, you can have family and friends over for a day-long celebration. As you plan, consider the size of your house against the expected attendees and accessibility, among other practical matters.

Also, get involved with other people who were close to the departed and discuss how best they wish to honor a loved one

Select Participants and Attendees

A memorial program hosted in the temple, church, or mosque will involve the respective clergy, who determine their protocols and practices. Some religious leaders will agree to officiate the event in other venues too.

When working with clergy, select participants familiar with the deceased and choose readings that align with the event. Those speaking should do it from the heart and point of familiarity with the departed one. 

Alternatively, you can use a secular celebrant you can get online. You can also designate a friend or family to an event or service.

ow close people willing and able to participate in various duties like scripture reading, sharing testimonials, or acting as ushers/greeters. If children attend, you can designate them duties like handing out programs or flowers. 

To avoid confusion, get a general program coordinator to run the entire program and coordinate details like officials, staff, venue, and musicians, among others, to ensure a seamless flow. This avoids confusion and duplicate effort.

Define the Program:

After settling on the venue, participants, and style, you will need to settle on a date, then define the program. Consider the availability of the main participants, family, and close friends for the date. A weekend or public holiday works best as most people are not on duty.

Define the Program:
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A printed program listing the service/event order, readings, music, and participants will guide the attendees and is also a great souvenir. 

Identify and brief the people who will speak and give a eulogy in advance. The speech can summarize the deceased’s life, crucial relationships, pivotal events, interests, and achievements.

Adding a few favorite memories is brilliant. The eulogy should take about five minutes, but at most, 15 minutes. 

Think through, plan and pick things like music, memorial decor, guest books, photographs, refreshments, and meals, to the latter. Ensure that the program is in sync. 


Celebrating the life of a loved one will help bring closure and healing to the family and friends of the loved one.

A well-planned public memorial ideas in honor of the departed is a great way to help your family and friends cope with the departure. Pay attention to every detail and plan to ensure the program is seamless.

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