There are many ways to make a funeral service personal and meaningful and to reflect the individual wishes and traditions of the person and family.
While it is important to preserve dignity and respect, we also understand that an appropriate farewell, eases the pain of bereavement and allows enduring memories to live on in the hearts of those who loved, admired and respected them.
Some suggestions are provided here, but we encourage you to discuss your thoughts with us. At Heritage, we can access a wide range of resources to help you to celebrate a life.
A funeral notice in the local or other newspapers are a convenient way to inform the wider community of the death of the person. We will help you with the wording and then place the notices on your behalf. In the case of a private funeral, a death notice is usually placed after the funeral service. In country areas, often a radio notice is a useful way to inform family and friends. We also place notices on this website with the family’s permission.
In most newspapers you are able to personalise the notice with colours, photos and special borders.
Floral arrangements have long played a symbolic part in funerals. A favourite type of flower or colour can be included, and we can arrange to order the flowers required. If you have special requirements, please discuss them with us. On the day of the funeral, we will ensure that the flowers are delivered on time, are handled with care and displayed attractively. Some families choose to place single flowers or petals on the coffin or in the grave.
Usually music is a very important part of the ceremony. It can add to the mood or can convey a special theme or message. Recorded music can be played or live music of all genres is available. Some churches, however, have strict guidelines about the type of music permitted and you must check with your Minister regarding this. We have a large music library and can source music for you as well as provide a PA system if required.
Order of Service Leaflets
An “Order of Service” leaflet can be very helpful for mourners and can also be sent to people unable to attend. The leaflet outlines the service and contains the words to the hymns, poems and other elements of the service. We would be pleased to help you organise and order the leaflets. we work with an excellent graphic artist who produces high quality, artistic and individual leaflets.
Bookmarks and Thank You Cards
As an alternative to an Order of Service leaflet, some families choose to provide a Bookmark or Thank you card which is personalised with a photo, poem or message from the family. These can also be sent to those who cannot attend, or who may have sent flowers or cards.
A meaningful visual presentation or Photo Tribute, of the person’s life journey set in photos can be especially appreciated by family and friends. Upon request, we can create a presentation of 30-40 photos, set to music of your choice to be shown on screen during the service. Extra photos will often require a 2nd song, so the presentation is not rushed.
Memorial books are provided with our compliments and are designed to be signed by those who attend the service. This offers families an opportunity to keep a collection of moments from the funeral, cards from the flowers, copies of newspaper notices and an order of service.
Photos and Momentos
Photos of the person and favourite personal items, such as flags, hats and boots, sporting items or other personal memorabilia, which symbolise and reflect aspects of a person’s life and passions can be placed on the coffin, or on a table near the coffin, or near where people are signing the memorial book.
Many families request that a donation to charity would be preferred, instead of sending flowers. We can arrange to have donation envelopes available at the service.
Eulogy and Words of Remembrance
This is a very personal way of remembering a life’s journey and is usually presented by a family member, close friend or colleague.
Help with Writing a Eulogy
If you have been asked to write the Eulogy or Words of Remembrance, it can at first seem quite daunting. To help, Heritage Funerals has put together the following suggestions on writing the Eulogy as well as some useful tips.
Before you start to write:
- Take time to sit quietly or go for a walk, to relax and think about what you will say.
- Take time to prepare the Eulogy.
- Ask other family members or friends for their thoughts and memories.
- To keep the impact of the tribute, keep it reasonably short, three to ten minutes is usually long enough.
- Use stories, humour if appropriate and quotes.
- Ask a trusted person to listen to your draft and obtain their feedback.
There are a number of themes that come across in Eulogies, such as:-
- Life history – this can be a short history of a person’s life. It often reveals aspects of the deceased’s life that was not generally known to others.
- Memories – this is an insight not only into the life of the deceased but of memories, both good and bad, shared with them.
- Tribute – Share with others the highlights and achievements of your loved one’s life.
- Legacy – This focuses on what they have left behind. This could be their children, changed lives, projects, significant qualities or their values and ethics passed onto future generations – their heritage.
Delivering the Eulogy
Unless you are a natural speaker, write it down and practice reading it out aloud.
Write or type out the Eulogy in large print to make it easier to read. Highlight parts so you do not miss them.
As a support, you may plan to have another person to stand with you or be ready to take over if you feel you cannot continue.
Speak slowly, clearly, project your voice, look up at the audience from time to time to make eye contact so people engage with you.
Remember, no-one at the service expects perfection, tears are a natural expression of the grief you are experiencing. Mourners are there to share the memories with you and will be supportive and understanding. Most of all be yourself. It is the sentiments behind the words that will have the most meaning.
Readings and Poetry
Family or friends may choose a poem or reading that adds significance, meaning and individual touches to the service.
Usually six pallbearers are needed to carry the coffin. You may like to ask relatives and friends to help. It can be a good way of giving others an opportunity to be involved on the day and is considered an honour. However, as the coffin can often be very heavy to carry and cemeteries uneven, please ensure that your pallbearers are fit and strong enough to carry out this duty safely for all concerned.
RSL, Masonic Lodge or Clubs
RSL and Masonic Lodge services can be arranged upon request. Heritage Funerals provides an Australian Flag free of charge to the family of returned servicemen and women as a mark of respect.
We liaise with various clubs eg. Football, Bowling, Golf, who may wish to place club notices or provide a guard of honour etc.
We are able to provide beautiful candles with photo of your loved one and their name embedded on the side. This candle can be lit at the ceremony and then on special occasions such as Anniversaries or Christmas.
Live web-streaming, Video and Audio Recording
We can arrange to live web-stream the service from venues such as Chapels, Churches and Graveside so family and friends who are not able to travel or attend, may watch and join you in spirit. We can also record or video the service to create a lasting memory.
Lock of Hair
Some people wish to keep a lock of hair from their loved one, to be placed in a locket or just kept safely at home.
Fingerprints, Handprints and Footprints
For babies and young children who have passed away, a precious keepsake is prints from tiny hands and feet. These may be framed, preserved in plaster or cast into jewellery.Fingerprint jewellery is also availabe for adults.
However, we can also arrange for your loved one’s fingerprint to be cast in silver to be worn as a pendant or bracelet charm.
White Doves and Butterflies
The release of white doves or butterflies (depending on availability) adds a symbolic touch and is usually at the conclusion of the service.
The Cortege or Procession
Led by the Hearse, the cortege goes from the funeral service venue to the cemetery or crematorium. You may request the cortege to pass by the family home or business. Or perhaps you would like to escort the cortege with vehicles such as trucks, vintage cars, motorbikes or horses depending on your loved one’s interests and passions.