Planning a Funeral

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I have been involved with the preparations for two close family funerals.  First, was my mother’s funeral and most recently the funeral of my brother in law.  It can be such a tender time for everyone.  I wanted to share some thought on planning a funeral.  My hope is that this may help make planning a memorial service easier in your time of grief.

There were many details of the funeral planning that I was not a part of, so this isn’t going to be a step-by-step post on how to plan a funeral.  But I wanted to share some ideas that others shared with me when I lost my mother unexpectedly a few years ago.  And more ideas that worked for our family when my husbands brother lost his battle with leukemia.

Celebration of Life

I believe a funeral service is meant to be a celebration of life. And a big part of that celebration is sharing pictures and mementos from their life.  It helps bring a smile to everyone’s face and reminds the guests what was most important to their deceased loved one.  Many people attending will only know the most recent version of that individual, but will likely enjoy learning about the earlier years.

funeral ideas

I love pictures. As a photographer, I’m often taking the pictures that families may not realize are treasures until they see them. The candid, playful moments in life. For both the funerals of my mother and my brother-in-law, I poured through hundreds of pictures.  I picked out images that best represented them and used them in the funeral program, the memory display, and the video slide show.

Funeral Program

I see the funeral program as not just something to guide a person through the service, but also a treasured memento for the family. A friend on Instagram shared a few ideas for the funeral program that I LOVED and we incorporated it into my brother-in-law Steve’s funeral program.

We included a lot of pictures in Steve’s funeral program.  We used a trifold program template that provided a lot of room for this purpose.  This gave us enough room to include pictures, the obituary, and a poem that his wife had seen painted on the wall at Johns Hopkins.

Also, the main image on the front of the program did not come easily! We did not have a picture of Steve alone.  I suggested a few silly and casual solo shots for the front, but his wife wanted a more traditional picture.  There was a great image of the two of them together.  Luckily I was able to edit the image and remove my sister in law from the picture.  It was a miracle, but I was very happy with how it looked in the end.  If you do not have an individual image for the front of your program, look at group pictures that you may be able to crop and Photoshop.

Jen had a friend, Scott, who offered his print shop services, which was SOOO wonderful of him. If you need print or design services in Virginia or even nationwide, look up GAM: Graphics and Marketing.  The programs were printed on good quality, thick cardstock and they turned out beautifully.

Funeral Program Trifold

See the program PDF here: Funeral Program Idea

See the video at the end for how it was folded up.

One thing we wanted to incorporate into the funeral program, but we were unable to make it work, was my brother-in-law’s handwriting.  I wanted to share this idea with you incase this was something special that you could include in your program.  What a beautiful and personal momento that could be for family and friends.

Memorial Service Photo Display

After looking through their computer and all of the pictures the siblings shared, we had lots of images to work with for the photo display.  We printed images in varying sizes, pulled framed photos from their walls, and borrowed table top easels from locals friends to make it perfect.  I then got permission from Jen to grab anything from the house that I wanted to use in the displays.

She gave me access to his closet, a memory box he had, and I even climbed into their attic looking for a few things.  Steve’s sister Julie and my daughter Alyssa helped me quite a bit with arranging the display.  Once we got everything pulled out, it took us just over an hour to set up the tables and items at the church.  We had to rush to get read for the services, so I would recommend setting up the night before if you are able.  I am SO pleased with how it turned out!

Several people on Instagram suggested sharing his favorite candy, and my sister-in-law loved that idea.  So we included a few bowls of candy along with the display.  I believe the guests enjoyed it all.

Funeral Memory Display

This is a short video of the full display:

Funeral Video Slideshow

I debated whether or not to spend time on a video slideshow tribute for the funeral service.  I made one for my mom’s funeral and it took a lot more time than I had anticipated.  Even after the pictures were gathered, it took hours to create the slideshow.  Fortunately, with the encouragement of my photographer sister-in-law Julie, and a generous offer from her friend to pull it all together for us, we were able to get it created. Wonderful!

I uploaded all of the best images I had pulled from their home computer, sent them to Julie, and she sent the highlights to her friend.  My best tip for the funeral video, and any part of the funeral planning process, is accept help!

It was actually quite a treasure to watch Steve’s boys enjoy the video slideshow after the services. Now this is something they can continue to enjoy for a long time.

{Slideshow created by Wander Blues}

If you’d like a slideshow made or need photography services in North Carolina contact Wander Blues.

All in all, it took about 3 days to pull everything together for the program, display, and video.  Thankfully, their pictures were very organized.  Jen even had her kids scan older pictures during summer break.

I was so thankful for the help and suggestions I received when helping with funeral preparations.  And I hope some of the funeral planning ideas are helpful to you in your time of grief.

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