A Service of Remembrance pays tribute to family members and friends who died during the past year. These occasions are designed to honor their contributions and the impact they had on others’ lives. While state and national funeral professional associations may hold Service of Remembrances for their members, it’s less common in local communities to honor family members and friends - but it should not have any less value and significance.
A popular time for those funeral homes who do hold a local Service of Remembrance is during the holidays. We all know the holidays have always been considered a time to spend with loved ones. This occasion marks the passage of time in our lives, of milestones we share with each other and special memories that live forever. That’s why the holidays can be especially difficult for those who have lost a loved one. When a family tradition is changed or a void is created, it can be difficult - Grandmother always baked the Thanksgiving pies or a Dad always played the piano on Christmas Eve. That’s where funeral homes can help.
As we all know, funeral service does not end after the burial or cremation. Aftercare and support can continue for as long as families and friends need it. It’s an opportunity to offer resources to help families continue their journey of healing and provide comfort when none is available. An event such as a Service of Remembrance provides families and friends an occasion to reflect, pay tribute and embrace the memories of a passed loved one. We should not and cannot forget someone who was such a valuable influence on those around him/her.
When considering taking on the responsibility of hosting an inaugural Service of Remembrance, it can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be elaborate or extravagant, and it doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. It just has to be meaningful.
To start, keep it simple. Identify what you can and can’t do. For example, a two-hour Open House with refreshments, music and a Tribute Video containing passed loved one’s photos and names that provide recognition and honor may be a good start. An open door, welcoming family and friends to come and go as they please, gives them the space and time they desire.
Another option is to consider a short ceremony with a speaker whose knowledge and expertise can help others appreciate the value of honoring and remembering a loved one’s impact around them. Additionally, a guest family member can share their own journey and experience in memorializing a loved one during the Holidays.
Family members can participate with simple acts such as the lighting of a candle in remembrance of a loved one, writing a personal message on a balloon then releasing it, bringing in a special photo, or an open mic to share one cherished moment – these are all things that assist in the healing process. Supportive music, songs and readings can help as well.
If you need staff help, consider partnering with a civic group, church or non-profit – like Hospice, a Senior Center or local service group who may offer volunteer assistance in exchange for an opportunity to simply participate and connect.
The memorializing of lost loved ones is prominent throughout this great country, from Memorial Day and war
memorials to statues and recognition of innocent victims like those on 9/11. But at the core of each individual – it is the parent, sibling, mentor and friend who has made just as much of an impact on those nearest them. They, too, need to be remembered for their contributions.
As the Holidays approach and family and friends gather – you can play a part in helping them pay tribute to those family and friends no longer with them. Through your experience, knowledge and compassion, consider a Service of Remembrance for your community this Holiday Season.