When it comes to deciding what to include in the service for a small funeral, there really are no hard and fast rules. The last few funerals I've sung at have shown exactly that point.
I've been at:
The lasting impression from all three of these family funerals was that it was a celebration of a life and that celebration was personal, poignant and positive.
One had a very little religious content, although the service was led by a minister. He showed that with careful consideration and discussion with the family, you can develop a service showing the deceased love of nature and family. This well crafted service left all the congregation with fond thoughts of how the deceased affected and influenced their lives.
In this case, the family chose not to have a physical service booklet for people to follow. So, the congregation was very much listening to the poems, readings and eulogy, all read by the minister.
My role was to lend a different voice to the occasion. The family wanted some traditional hymns sung, but as they were few in number, they wanted a singer to give confidence to their own voices. They also wanted to have something meaningful to listen to during a period of reflection.
With only a few in the congregation, it was a very personal experience. Afterwards, the family said it was lovely to have the songs sung live, and that this added to their celebration.
Thank you, you have a wonderful voice. Mum would have loved it. I'm sure she was listening.
MB, funeral at Chilterns Crematorium, Amersham, Buckinghamshire
The second funeral in a cemetery had similar hymns, and the solo was 'Time to say goodbye'. This service was very religious including a gospel and other bible readings and a eulogy read by the deceased's daughter.
They had a printed order of service booklet with many pictures from the life of the deceased, so those who attended had a physical keepsake of the event, as well as their memory of the celebration.
What a beautiful voice, thank you for your singing, the solo was wonderful and also it was so uplifting having a strong vice leading the hymns. So often it can be difficult to sing in times like this.... Truly was wonderful, so much nicer than playing a CD, your singing gave it a real personal touch. Dad would have loved it!
JS, funeral at Woking Cemetery, Surrey
Simple cremation service
The third funeral was at another crematorium. This service was a family affair: they too had a printed Order of Service, a quite modest one with a simple photograph of the deceased.
The only reading was the congregational Lord's Prayer, and the eulogy was given by a family friend. They had more music in the service:
The congregation were few in number as the deceased was well into their nineties and had outlived many friends and family members. The service may have been shorter in time, but no less a heartfelt celebration of a life well lived!
Thank you for such a wonderful performance today. My family and friends all commented on how good you were, my evidence being that know-one wanted to leave on the exit song. Thank you again for all your help.
TR, funeral at The Park Crematorium, Aldershot, Hampshire
Even if you are small in number, there are no hard and fast rules to follow for a funeral service. Just make sure it's the celebration that means the most to you and those who are there to celebrate and remember.
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