A funeral provides the opportunity for friends and family to gather together, and remember the life of a loved one who has passed away.  It provides a sense of closure as well as the opportunity to honor your loved one and just what they meant to your life and to the lives of your family.  A funeral typically consists of the following elements:


Music holds a special place in most of our lives.  We remember the first song we danced to at our wedding, the song that was playing on the radio when we received good news or when we received bad news.  The music we enjoy is a reflection of ourselves and our personality. Therefore, the music played at a funeral, whether it be live and recorded, should reflect the personality of your loved one.  The music should invoke memories and special moments you shared with your loved one.


Readings are often included in a funeral service.  Like the music, the readings should be a reflection of your loved one’s personal choices and beliefs.  They range from Biblical verses to poems to lyrics of songs.  Whatever your loved one would have enjoyed is the appropriate reading for their funeral.


The eulogy is a speech given to honor the life of your loved one and the impact he or she had on those individuals around them.  It is a reflection of their essence and what they meant to family and friends. It usually talks about special memories that stand out when thinking about the times shared with your loved one. While it is often given by a family member, a close family friend, a clergy member, or the person officiating the funeral can also give the eulogy.

Symbols and Objects

Symbols and objects often include flowers and pictures.  However, do not feel that you are limited to this.  Again, keep in your mind your loved one and what they would like others to see and enjoy.  Bring in their unique style to remind those attending the funeral just who your loved one was and their unique take on life.


In addition to the eulogy, you may want to include memories within the funeral in other ways.  Perhaps allow individuals close to your loved one in different areas of life speak about the impact they felt knowing the deceased.  Areas could include religious affiliations, volunteer organizations, work associates, or teammates.  Many funerals incorporate a montage of pictures and music presenting images from throughout the deceased’s life.


Rituals often bring comfort to many mourners, a way to help them cope with their loss.  These rituals range from lighting a candle to placing a flower on the coffin, to hugs or handshakes to a funeral procession to the cemetery.  These rituals are not essential to the service and if you feel they put undue pressure on yourself or are something the deceased would not appreciate themselves, then feel free to leave this out of your funeral planning.


A reception or wake typically follows a funeral, whether at the same venue where the funeral took place or somewhere else.  This provides an opportunity for those attending the funeral to give their condolences to the close family.  The family have the chance to visit and discover what role their loved one played in the lives of others.  These times also allow mourners to gather together, talk, and catch up.  Families and friends are often spread out around the country, or even around the world and these times for visiting provide the opportunity to catch up on what is happening in each other’s lives and to reminisce about what the deceased meant to them.  Food and beverage items are often served at this time as well.

One Final Word

While these are the typical elements making up a funeral service, in today’s society funerals continue to become more individual, uniquely suited to the loved one being remembers.  Do not feel restrained with these guidelines, allow yourself to put together a funeral that truly represents your loved one.