Wading Through Grief to Plan Funerals: Tips and Coping Strategies

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Simple But Respectful Ideas for Modern Day Funerals

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If you're preplanning a funeral for yourself or helping a friend preplan his or her own funeral, you may not want to have a traditional religious ceremony followed by a gravesite service. Today's modern funerals are not about tradition but are about mourning the dead and giving the living a chance to grieve in their own personal way, while still being respectful of the occasion. Note a few simple ideas you might consider for your funeral plans.

1. Color themes

A funeral might have a color theme that can make it seem very personal for the deceased. If they had a favorite color, use it in flowers and on the funeral announcements, and encourage everyone to dress in that color or wear something of that color. Having a funeral with a white, purple or yellow color theme can make it seem less formal and more personal, and it gives everyone a chance to express themselves and feel as if they're part of the funeral and not just observers.

2. Movie themes

Honoring a movie buff with a movie theme for a funeral is a good way to make it very personal. You can easily have a film of the person's life created by a video production company, using old photographs and sound effects or a voiceover, rather than just displaying pictures. Show the movie rather than having a memorial talk; a funeral home can usually help with setting up a screen and projector. Use their favorite movie quotes on the funeral announcement or program and other printed materials. 

3. Outdoor ceremonies

Someone who loves nature may want to be buried in the woods rather than in a standard cemetery, and if you can obtain the right permits, you might be able to arrange this and have the funeral in the same location. Have everyone dress appropriately for the outdoor setting and consider having a stone pile or other marker that everyone can contribute to in the person's memory.

4. Volunteer day

Rather than conduct a standard funeral, you might have a volunteer day. Everyone could be encouraged to volunteer at a local homeless shelter or you might have all funeral goers sit and write letters to soldiers overseas, or perform some other type of volunteer work that everyone can manage. If the deceased had a favorite cause, this can be worked into the funeral arrangements. Visitors can even stuff envelopes for a fundraiser or have a bake sale for a charity and be encouraged to donate to a local charity rather than buy flowers.

For more ideas and tips on planning, talk with funeral directors at local funeral homes, such as Chapel of the Holy Family.