You can still have a funeral service if you do not have a church that you attend. If you are not affiliated with a religion, you can still have a spiritual service. You might still have a minister or a person of faith speak or preside. What does the service include? Here is a framework.
If you plan ahead, you or your loved one can write some ideas down ahead of time about what you want. If this did not happen, meet some close family members or children and brainstorm ideas about what the service will look like. This will be the time to talk about the setting, food, religious concerns, wishes of the deceased and people involved.
The next step is to plan the music. This will depend on the setting the service is held in. It should include the music played while people are gathering and waiting for the service to begin, a processional, hymns or songs sung during the service or between readings and finally the recessional. It should also consider whether there is any music at the cemetery or at the time of burial, if there is one. The music needs to be respectful, considerate of the family’s wishes, but blend in and not be the focus.
The family will often have readings, clippings, or poems that are meaningful to them. They have saved them for this occasion. Ask for them and try to work them into the ceremony. Ask different people to participate in the readings. These are some of the most treasured words and the participation brings the family and friends together in a special way.
Some other events will include eulogies, telling of stories, readings of letters or cards, and sharing among the people who are attending. Viewing of the body is another option that needs to be considered and planned for, depending on if cremation or burial are part of the plan.
To put some order in the plan, here is what some would consider a standard; musical prelude, processional, opening prayer, hymn, reading, eulogy, sermon, final viewing, recessional, internment.
And finally, the design of the program needs to be considered. Are you going to include a picture? If so, is the picture on the front or do you want to ease the grief of those attending and put it on the inside? Include names of the officiant, participants, obituary information, quotes and excerpts of readings, dates, and order of service.