The holiday season is upon us and for many funeral homes it’s time for hosting an annual service of remembrance. The idea of these services is to invite all the people in the community that have experienced the loss of a loved one in the past year or so, to join together in fellowship and remember the life of the departed. Holiday times can be a particularly hard time of year with the recent loss of someone we love. Traditions bring back powerful memories of our past relationship. In other words, we miss them even more during the holidays .
The service is an opportunity to join with others who share in the need of continued support. Usually this type of service is more spiritual and shy’s away from any one particular religion. Because the entire community is invited it needs to be an interfaith style of ceremony. The tricky part is supporting the various beliefs without offending the beliefs of others.
At the funeral home I last worked for, we would invite clergy from the 3 or 4 churches in town to conduct the service. They would take turns sharing in the ceremony, being careful not to push any particular aspects of their religion. If I was putting together a holiday service today, I would hire my local Celebrant. They are trained and perfect for interfaith styles of services. Music was also more spiritual then religious and would often bring back emotions and tears.
Everyone that attended was given two white dove ornaments. As part of the service attendees would come forward and speak the name of those they wish to honor as they hung the dove on the tree. The other ornament was a gift from the funeral home to take home.
The time of fellowship following the service was a comforting time to socialize over cookies and beverages. As a funeral director I found it to be a great time to re-connect with those I had served and it was always a pleasure to be able chat without having to plan a funeral. It was also good to be able to connect with families that were served elsewhere and an important opportunity to let them see our facilities. The people who came were always so appreciative and thankful it was a great feel good time and powerful community outreach for our business.
It surprises me that all funeral homes don’t organize such an annual event. Any opportunity to connect with the community and show our human side is a good one. The holiday time is the perfect opportunity and you will see by the emotions of the attendees that is also needed to continue the healing process as life continues. Some families came back year after year.
I have noticed in the past few years that in communities where funeral homes did not conduct such a service that Hospice groups have been hosting them or an interfaith church group. If this hasn’t happened yet in your community and you own a funeral business, I would advise that you get with it. And if another organization is already doing it, then join in and support it. Buy the cookies and punch and get in there because you care even after the funeral bill is paid.