The significance and importance of a service

Sadly, we all have to deal with the death of loved family and friends, When we are confronted with such a death, there are three levels of significance to be considered (The Funeral, Doug Manning, 2007):

  • the significance of our loss – often expressed as “what will happen to me?”
  • the significance of the person we have lost – wanting to tell the world about the value of the one we love
  • the social significance – one of the major reasons for having a funeral, so that others can show their love and the significance that the person had in their lives.

 A funeral or memorial service is an important and valuable way to address this significance.  However, when we are grieving, it can be very difficult to make decisions about a ceremony that will honour, respect and celebrate the life of our loved one.


General order of service

  • Generally about 30 minutes.
  • The processional, where the coffin/casket is brought in.
  • A welcome and introduction that may include a prayer or hymn.
  • The eulogy, which can be given either by a friend or family member or the celebrant.
  • Possibly one or more people speaking briefly about their special memories.
  • Reflection music, followed by a blessing, a prayer or a reading of your choice.
  • The committal and one final piece of music before leaving the service. 

Some considerations

  • You can choose your own celebrant or you can accept a celebrant recommended by the funeral director. Whoever you choose, it is important for you to feel confident that the celebrant will spend time with you, listen to you, and reflect your wishes for the service.
  • A funeral service may be conducted just about anywhere, in negotiation with the funeral director.
  • Traditional funeral services can be conducted at the graveside, in a crematorium, in the funeral director's chapel or at a natural burial site. For more information about the natural burial site at Fremantle Cemetery, please go here.
  • Memorial services can be held anywhere, and perhaps at a place that was of particular significance for the person whose life is being celebrated.
  • Family, friends, colleagues and children can be involved in the ceremony as speakers, pall bearers and ushers. There are conflicting views about children attending funerals - this article may help.
  • The service is organised through consultation and negotiation with the funeral director, the family and the celebrant. While there is a general order of service, the family can work with the celebrant to design and write the content for the ceremony.

Planning ahead

It is not easy to acknowledge our own mortality and even harder for our loved ones to plan a fitting farewell if our wishes have never been discussed. If that conversation is too difficult, you may like to leave a plan, either attached to your will or with a family member/friend. I'm happy to share the one I have used.  (please download a copy here).