Plan a Memorial Service

Plan a Memorial Service

Why Do we Have a Memorial Service?

After the death of a loved one, a memorial service fills several important needs. Firstly,  it allows for a dignified and respectful farewell for the deceased, it also provides a forum (whether public or private) where those close can pay special tribute to their life. Among its other purposes,  it makes us acknowledge the reality of the death, remember the life and initiate support during this naturally difficult time.


We recommend you do not plan the memorial service until after you have actually received your loved ones ashes. Unfortunately, we cannot always guarantee ashes will be delivered by a certain date due to operational procedures and the unreliability of postal services. 

Choosing a Venue

There are many places at which a Memorial Service can be conducted.

If you or the person who died attended a church or other place of worship then that particular church may be the place to have the memorial service.

Family tradition or personal preference may be that you hold the funeral at another venue such as:

  • a funeral director’s chapel
  • nursing home chapel
  • the crematorium chapel
  • rural property
  • private residence
  • garden setting
  • school auditoriums

you may also consider some of the following points when deciding on a venue:

  • how many people you need to accommodate
  • is it easy for the elderly to commute there and back
  • is there adequate parking
  • are there time restrictions when using the facility (e.g. crematoriums)
  • availability of public transport

If you choose a crematorium for the memorial service you need to be aware that at most crematoriums services are held at 1 hour intervals.

This 1 hour includes time for the mourners to arrive, enter the chapel and be seated; approximately 25 to 30 minutes for the funeral service;  time for everyone to leave the chapel and convey their condolences to the family, and move away in time for the next family to arrive.  If you feel more time will be required for the service it is possible to book an additional service time, for an extra fee.


A Loving Tribute To Celebrate a Life

The eulogy is an important part of the service as it celebrates the life of your loved one and the ways in which he/she has touched many lives.  Writing and delivering the eulogy is a special task as the eulogy helps to begin the healing process for those who are left behind.

The eulogy can be delivered by anyone – a family member, friend or clergy. It is best delivered by one who has known the deceased.  The eulogy may even be shared with a number of people contributing words of remembrance and poetry.

Hints For Writing And Delivering a Eulogy

Unfortunately in these circumstances the preparation and reading of the eulogy can appear to be a daunting task.  To help with this process we have put together a simple strategy that will help you prepare and deliver the eulogy.  The internet can also be a good reference point for information on writing a eulogy and for examples of eulogies others have written.

Gather Your Thoughts

Before you begin to write, first note down the memories and feelings you might like to mention in the eulogy.  You may wish to flip through photos,  look at the deceased’s most treasured possessions and talk to family and friends to gather memories and stories of the deceased.

Below is a list of topics that you may find helpful when compiling your notes

  • When Born
  • Family ranking (e.g. eldest child)
  • Parent’s occupations
  • Schools attended
  • Tertiary education
  • Milestones in life
  • Service to the community
  • When married
  • To whom married
  • Names of children
  • Names of grandchildren
  • Things he/she enjoyed doing
  • Special relationships
  •  Where born
  • Parent’s names
  • Where grew up
  • Sporting or other interests
  • Work history
  • Military service
  • Age at marriage
  • Where married
  • Number of children
  • Number of grandchildren
  • Membership of clubs, lodges, etc.
  • Treasured Items
  • Humorous events


Kaufmann Johannes; Riepl Riepl

Writing The Eulogy

When you start to write the eulogy don’t feel that you need to summarise the person’s entire life. Instead you may like to adopt a theme.  You may see certain themes emerging as you do your notes.  A theme provides a focus for the audience to remember the deceased.

If there are to be a number of people giving the eulogy at the funeral service, consider suggesting that each speaker adopt a theme,  as this avoids the potential for repetition.  Examples of themes include:  Bill the family man,  Bill the community leader,  Bill the sportsman and Bill the businessman.

Arrange your notes in an order you feel flows well ensuring you have included an introduction and a conclusion.  When you start to write, write as though you are speaking to a friend, making sure you always acknowledge the positive aspects of the deceased person and pay respect to them in an open, honest and caring manner.  Don’t be afraid to use some humour where you think it may be appropriate.

The writing of the eulogy is best done on a computer as it makes changing and editing a lot easier.  It also allows you to be able to print the completed eulogy in a larger font size so it is easier to read at the Memorial service.  When you have finished writing,  give the completed eulogy to family members so they may read it and suggest any changes.

Eulogies are among the most difficult speeches to make.  No one expects you to be a great orator,  especially at a difficult time like this. It is your words and the sentiment they convey that are most important.  Don’t feel that you need to maintain eye contact with the audience; some people find it easier to stay composed by not looking up.  It is best to speak to the bereaved as though you were talking to a friend.  Don’t worry or be embarrassed if you need to pause a moment to compose yourself,  people will understand.

Useful Hints For Speaking

  • rehearse your eulogy several times beforehand, imagining your listeners are before you
  • speak slowly and clearly so everyone can hear
  • arrange for a backup speaker to be on hand with a copy of your speech in case you feel you may not be strong enough to deliver the whole speech.  The security of just knowing someone else is there to support you can help you through.  If you do feel yourself starting to lose your composure remember to breathe deeply,  focus on the words you are reading and try to continue.

Writing The Memorial Notice

The Memorial notice helps to inform friends, relatives and the community of the passing of a loved one and to convey to them the details of the funeral service to follow.  You may like to place the memorial notice in the local newspaper only or you may also publish it in newspapers from towns or cities where the deceased once lived,  worked or spent their weekends and holidays.

When it comes to writing the memorial notice you can include any information you feel is appropriate.  You may like to refer to the funeral notice page in the newspaper for ideas and formats.

Traditionally Memorial Notices Include Such Things as:

  • the deceased’s name,  age,  date of death,  maiden name,  service number (if any) and places they have resided.
  • sometimes,  the place of death and manner of death.  (e.g. tragically taken, passed away peacefully)
  • the names of close relatives and descendants,  including spouse,  children,  grand children,  parents,  siblings and in-laws.
  • details of the Memorial such as the time,  date and place.
  • requests for donations to charitable organisations in lieu of flowers.  Sometimes the organisation mentioned may be related to the decedent’s cause of death.

Contrary to the belief of some,  there is no requirement at law requiring you to publish a funeral,  memorial or death notice if you do not wish to.