Who Should I Invite to be Part of the Funeral Service?
It takes quite a few people working together to ensure that funeral planning goes off without a hitch. From the funeral director who oversees the details to the individual who stands up to give the eulogy, the best and most unique parts about a funeral are the people who are willing to put in their time and effort.
Of course, in order to get most of these individuals to help out, it is necessary to ask or hire them to be part of the funeral service. This process can be fraught with challenges, as it is often difficult to choose which family members are right for the job. Emotions and tensions always run high following a death, and asking one relative to make food for the memorial party while overlooking another can cause offense. You might also wish to honor certain friends and family members with a particular task, but are unsure about the best way to approach them.
The nice thing about funerals is that there is plenty of work to be done. Although this is not a comprehensive list, here are some of the main tasks that require the help of family, friends, or hired funeral professionals.
- Pastor, religious official, or other individual to preside over the funeral service
- Readers (for poetry, Biblical passages, favorite book passages, journal entry, etc.)
- Performers (singers, musicians)
- Someone to make a video or photo slideshow/collage
- Someone to give the eulogy
- Obituary writer
- Clean up crew
- Driving elderly or visiting guests
- Housing visiting guests
As you can see, some of these tasks require hard skills (singing or creating a photo collage), while others are more of an honorary post (pallbearers). It is usually a good idea to talk to each relative before you “assign” them a task, since they might be uncomfortable with performing or providing a service when their own grief is so fresh. And you might have some relatives offering their services even when you do not have a place for them.
This sort of thing requires tact and maneuvering. In most cases, it is best to start with the immediate family circle and move outward. Those most closely affiliated with the deceased should be offered a chance to participate in a way that they feel comfortable, even if it is something as simple as taking part in the receiving line or dropping a rose onto the casket as it is being lowered.
From there, you can align tasks with individuals according to skill or availability. Those with large homes might be able to provide housing. Those with good computer skills can make a memorial video. Those who have a creative touch can help decorate the memorial space.
Because you may be hesitant to give offense, always have a few “spare” tasks on hand. People like being able to help out in times of grief, so if you need to have errands run, if you would like help with thank you cards, or if you can simply set aside some time for everyone to share a memory (and can therefore ask well-wishers to come up with their favorite story about the deceased), be sure and hand these tasks out with a liberal hand.