If you have found yourself in the position of having to plan a funeral service, you know that having to plan everything from the music selection to the time, day and location of the service, while mourning your loss, is a regrettable and very difficult task. While the events surrounding your situation can be extremely hard to bear, the minutiae of the funeral service will be easier to plan if you have a framework in which to work – that’s where a funeral order of service can come in handy.
In the case of a funeral service, the framework revolves around the order of the service. Once you know in what order the various steps of the funeral will take place (eulogy, music performances, etc), it will be easier for everything else to fall into place. Here is a general guideline you can use to help you determine the order of service for the funeral you are planning for your loved one.
Common Funeral Order of Service
Traditional funeral services will begin with the playing of a song, or music, in order to set the tone for the funeral service. Most people want a funeral service to be a celebration of life, and will choose an uplifting or inspirational song to play during this time. Music can be played live via an organist, pianist, or group, or it can be recorded tracks.
Once the music starts, clergy and mourners will enter. Often, family designates this as a viewing period, with the procession passing by the coffin containing the deceased before being seated. Of course, this makes some people uncomfortable, and they may opt not to walk by the coffin for a viewing, but will prefer instead to be seated directly.
Prayer or Reading
Once everyone is seated, the funeral service generally opens with either a prayer, or a reading of a poem or scripture. The reading can be done by either a clergyman or family member of the deceased.
Often, family and friends may be invited to address the mourners and share a story of the deceased, or reflect on fond memories or what the decedent meant to them. While not everyone chooses to schedule this time during a funeral service, it has become more commonplace as funeral and memorial services have merged into one event.
The eulogy is typically given next. If there is more than one eulogy to be recited, they will be delivered in succession. A eulogy is generally delivered by a close friend or family member of the deceased, but it can also be given by a member of the clergy.
Closing Prayer or Reading
At this time, a member of the family or clergy will close out the funeral service by delivering a final prayer, or scripture or poetry reading.
The recessional is typically led by a member of the clergy, or the funeral service director if no clergy is present. The clergy or director will exit first. Next will be the casket and pallbearers, followed by the decedent’s family and then the remaining mourners.
If there is to be an internment, the mourners will meet at the grave site where there may be a short burial service.
Often, following the burial, family and friends gather at a previously designated location (meeting hall, home) for what is called a repass. This is essentially a meal that is shared among the mourners.
Of course, when planning the funeral service, it’s important to consider timing, scheduling, availability, and financial impact. But, when you have guidelines related to the general funeral order of service, planning itself can be easier. In your time of grief, it’s important to do everything you can to make it as easy on yourself as possible.