The Dead Good Funerals Book

Pages 175-176

Suggested Structure for a Ceremony

Here is a suggested structure to follow for those wishing to organise a funeral ceremony that is both dignified and formal, yet simple.

  1. Arrival and Welcome
    Opening words, including the name of the person whose life we are honouring. Mention and include the family / partners and their loss. The person (or preferably two) leading the ceremony may introduce themselves; outline their role; give an idea of the length of the ceremony; invite people to sit down and encourage people to move forward if it is a sparse gathering in a large venue; indicate anything particular that will happen during or after the ceremony.

  2. Frame the Event
    Some action or gesture to mark the start of the ceremony, e.g. someone lights a candle or lantern near the coffin.

  3. Set the Mood
    Listen to a piece of music; readings of prose and poetry with thoughts on the meaning and value of life and the inevitability of death, chosen for their suitability to the person concerned (an old person dying at the end of a long and fulfilling life; a young adult killed in an accident; a child …). The family may have suggested a favourite poem to be read. Everyone sings a secular song or a hymn together.

  4. Tributes
    To the life of………………. Given by friends, relatives, and colleagues. Readings, stories, poems, or something a family member has written, to be read on their behalf. This can be an opportunity to quote from letters of condolence that have already come in.

  5. Committal
    Invite people to stand; indicate it is time for the final part of the ceremony when we commit the body of……………… to its natural end. Offer a short silence for people's own thoughts or prayers. If it is a crematorium, this is where curtains close or the coffin glides out of sight. At the graveside this is the lowering of the coffin into the ground. A handful of earth, or flowers may be thrown into the grave.

  6. Closing Words
    Focusing people back onto their own lives, moving forward, carrying this sorrow and loss. Thanks on behalf of the family to those attending and for recent support given, where appropriate. Final piece of music to listen to, or to sing together.

  7. Depart for social gathering

Back to The Dead Good Funerals Book