Everything you need to know about a Memorial Service

4 February 2022

memorial service

Planning and attending a memorial service can be an emotional experience, however knowing what to expect on the day may reduce some of the stress and pressures.

Our guide will help talk you through some of the challenges and answer a few commonly asked questions around planning a memorial service.

What is a memorial service?

When someone you care about and love has passed away, a memorial service will help you say goodbye in a meaningful and respectful way. A memorial service enables those in attendance to think about what they shared with that loved one and feel a sense of connection with others experiencing the loss.

What is the difference between a memorial service and a funeral?

The memorial service and funeral are both rituals that enable us to farewell a person who has passed away. One key difference is that the body of the deceased is present during a funeral. After a funeral, the body is typically buried or cremated. A memorial service is usually held after the burial or cremation has already occurred. For this reason, there is greater flexibility about where a memorial service can take place.

What happens at a memorial service?

A memorial service enables the family and friends of the deceased to gather together and celebrate their life. The way the service is prepared can vary greatly. In most cases, someone who knew the deceased person well will share their favorite stories and memories. Many memorial services feature music or songs that held a special meaning to the person. There may be readings, poems, short stories or even letters that the person has written during their lifetime.

A memorial service might also include the:

  • scattering of the ashes.

  • opportunity for those present to share a memory or story if they wish.

  • viewing of a presentation or slideshow of photographs, or video messages sent by those not in attendance.

  • sharing of food or drinks.

What is appropriate to wear at a memorial service?

Some cultures have specific dress code requirements for funerals, but the clothing rules at memorial services are often less rigid. Most people choose to wear neat, semi-formal clothing in dark colors. The dress code may also be dependent on the venue of the service. For example, if the service is to be held in a park or garden, it may be suitable to wear casual or outdoor appropriate clothing. If you are unsure about what to wear, check in with the organizers or other people you know who will be in attendance.

Planning a memorial service

When you are responsible for planning a memorial service, consider first the practicalities. The initial decisions to be made are when and where the service will be held and who you will invite to attend. Once you have confirmed a location and checked that you have permission to use the site (some parks, clubs and gardens may require you to make a booking or apply for a permit), you need to let people know about the service. In the lead up to the event, make a plan and organize the program. You might start by contacting the people you would like to give a eulogy or share a warmhearted story. From there, you will need to organize all the other elements you may wish to include into the program on the day.

Memorial service ideas

Because there are no set rules for a memorial service, there is no reason you can’t plan something a little unusual or unique. Some of our favorite ideas for memorial services include:

  • a backyard barbeque.

  • the releasing of butterflies or balloons.

  • a movie screening of a person’s favorite film.

  • a fundraising event to raise money for a chosen charity.

  • a themed service such as Game of Thrones, Star Wars or Broadway.

Memorial service invitation

The most important thing to let people know is when and where the service will be held. These days, it is not common practice for invitations to be printed and posted. You can notify people about arrangements with a telephone call. It is also appropriate to send emails or text messages with the specified service details as long as recipients have been notified of the person who has passed away beforehand.

There are some amazing platforms with a variety of customizable templates that allow you to personalize and send a digital memorial invitation such as Paperless Post and Canva.

Memorial service program

Often, a memorial service guide or program is handed out to those in attendance at the service. These programs will usually feature a picture of the person who has passed away and the names of the most immediate family members (commonly what has been printed as an obituary.) It may also list any readings or songs to be featured and the names of any speakers. These programs are often kept as keepsakes by the people who attend the service. You can also share a service program in an online memorial.

What is an online memorial?

If you are responsible for planning a memorial service, it’s worthwhile considering setting up and sharing an online memorial of your loved one. A platform like Memories offers a safe and secure space where people can add photos, videos and messages of tribute to the dearly departed in a beautiful timeline of their life. An online memorial is especially useful if you have family or friends who cannot attend the memorial service in person. No matter where they are located, they can view treasured photos and videos, while also being able to leave their own tributes.

An online memorial can be shared prior to the funeral service and announced during the memorial service in case anyone wants to visit it online and add to the loved one’s timeline.

The benefits of an online memorial

Online Memorials have become increasingly popular over the last decade. The benefits of creating an online memorial include:

  • One central place to store and save photos, videos and memories.

  • The ability to share your tribute with friends and family so they have an opportunity to contribute their own photos and stories to honor the loved one’s memories.

  • A living memory of your loved one which can be revisited for many years to come and passed onto future generations.

  • With Memories, you can easily convert the photos and videos on their timeline into a slideshow with a click of a button.

With Memories, you will be able to create a sophisticated and dedicated online tribute to your loved one. The system is easy to use and enables quick and easy uploading of images and videos. The tools and templates are all there. Simply add your precious memories and you will have a beautiful repository and lasting tribute for future generations.