If your loved one has just passed away, you have many decisions to make and tasks to attend to as you plan their funeral. In the confusing and dark days after the death, it can be hard to know what to do when a loved one passes. Some people find that keeping busy and planning the funeral helps them immensely in the initial period of mourning. Creating the order of service for their funeral can be an immensely healing and comforting process.
An order of service is a booklet that is offered to guests as they arrive at the funeral, or mailed to those who cannot attend. It provides mourners with the information they need about the service ahead.
That said, the order of service is so much more than simply a schedule of the day (although that is an important component for many people). It can also include special memories, photos, quotes from the deceased, a brief biography, and song lyrics, scripture, or poetry that they loved. Many people choose to keep the order of service as a memento; a token of the relationship they had with the deceased.
While traditional orders of service can be quite spartan, you are free to be as creative as you wish. You can customise your loved one’s order of service to reflect their unique personality and passion in life. Conversely, you can leave things rather minimal and let their memory speak for themselves.
Here is our guide of what to include in a funeral order of service. We hope that it can be of some comfort during this difficult time.
The Front Cover
Most people choose to keep their funeral order of service front cover quite understated and simple. However, it is completely customisable, and some people do decide to go even more elaborate, or ‘over the top,’ depending on the personality of the deceased.
The most common inclusions for an order of service front cover are:
- The full name of the deceased
- Their date of birth and their date of death
- A short quote, message, or piece of scripture that commemorates them
- The location, time, and date of the funeral
- Any nicknames that they used
As you begin looking through all of the photos of your loved one, choose one that speaks to your heart. Which photo best represents their personality? Some people prefer to select a more contemplative or serious photo, while others think that a humourous or whimsical photo is even more suitable.
While you might be tempted to choose a photo of the deceased surrounded by their friends or family, it’s always a better idea to go with a solo photo.
The Schedule Of Service
Every funeral is different, as each person and their family members have different requirements, wishes, and customs. The schedule of service prepares guests for what to expect.
As with any event, people like to be kept abreast of what will happen, and when. Whether you are planning a short non-denominational funeral or a longer religious ceremony, the schedule of service will keep everyone on the same page about every aspect of the rites.
A typical schedule of service includes a welcome from the celebrant or religious leader, a series of readings from friends and family, and a listing of the songs or hymns that will be played or sung.
The schedule will also include any additional events that are planned, including any graveside ceremonies, wakes, or gatherings that will be held afterwards.
A schedule of service typically looks something like this:
- The title and artist of the song used for the musical procession as guests enter the facility and take their seats
- The name of the person or celebrant who will do the introduction
- The lyrics to the songs or funeral hymns that will be played at the service
- Information about the readings, verses, speeches read by the speakers
- The prayers that will be read
- The title and artist of the closing song
- Information about the location of any graveside ceremony
- Information about a wake or gathering that will occur after the funeral
Special Memories and Moments
After you have written the schedule of the service, you can start choosing any additional photos, memories, poetry, and quotes to the booklet. While some people choose to go with a simple 4-page option (one piece of paper folded in half), others add multiple sheets of paper. Do keep in mind that if you elect to add more pages to your booklet, the price of printing will increase.
A lovely idea is to include a timeline of your loved one’s life. This can include any and all landmark moments in their life, such as their graduation, wedding, major promotions, the birth of their children and grandchildren, and other important dates.
If they loved a specific sports team, had a lifelong hobby or loved to travel, you can also include information, logos, or illustrations to represent these passions. Similarly, if they themselves were an artist, writer, or photographer, consider adding some of their work for an additional personal touch. This can make the order of service an even more meaningful keepsake for friends and family.
Once you reach the back cover of the order of service, you will have already included all of the most important information. This is an ideal place to display another photograph of your loved one.
Some people choose to use a contemporary photo of the deceased on the cover of the order of service, and a photo of them in their younger years on the back. Of course, you can reverse this. You could also include a family photo on the back of the booklet or a photo of the person and his or her spouse.
This is also a good place to list any charities that were important to the deceased or to ask for donations to a charity or cause. It can also be the best place for a heartfelt thanks to anyone who attended, and a message to those who could not make it.
Commemorating your loved one in different ways
Creating the order of service for your loved one’s funeral is a labour of love, and is a process that many people find comforting during their darkest hours. There are a variety of other commemorative acts that may bring comfort to you as you prepare for the funeral or service.
- Write a meaningful eulogy that details the important events in your loved one’s life. If you do not feel comfortable reading this aloud, a close friend or the celebrant can do this for you.
- Write a poem or song that reflects your relationship with the deceased, and expresses how you feel.
- After their cremation, have a piece of ashes memorial jewellery made with some of their cremains.
- Create a slide show filled with photos and short video clips from their life, including all of the important moments. Accompany this with a song that they loved, and that will remind others of them.
- Design a poster or collage featuring photos of the deceased, for display during the wake or gathering.
- Customise the funeral visitor’s book with photos, quotes, and other meaningful details.
The days and months after a loved one passes are never easy. Creating the order of service for their funeral can be a great comfort.