Mourners at a funeral service will confront a variety of emotions as they say their final goodbyes, recall personal memories, and see others who loved and cherished the deceased. A well-organized memorial service can bring a satisfying sense of closure to those who attend. Additionally, the inclusion of friends and family members in the service often alleviates stress for the organizer. By getting involved in the funeral planning process, it can often help family members cope with their loss and feel a sense of comfort in having given back to the deceased. Contributions from family and friends may also allow immediate family members to relax just enough to more fully (and healthily) experience their grief. When family and friends contribute to the memorial ceremony, the event becomes more thoughtful and comfortable. As individuals join together to express their love for the deceased, each in their own special way, the service becomes an individualized tribute to the lost. Such unique ceremonies remain in the minds and hearts of attendees as beautiful memories. Approaching Family And Friends The travel plans, special talents, and interests of family and friends should be considered when looking for ways to incorporate others into a funeral service. For instance, family flying in from out-of-town may not have enough time for certain tasks. Some people are more comfortable in front of people then others funeral flowers. Dont further upset a shy family member by asking them to give a eulogy or read a poem during the service unless it feels like a necessity. As you ask others if they would like to contribute to the funeral, let their interests and talents guide your final plans. The aspiring writer grandchild may not be interested in speaking, for instance, but she may interested in writing a eulogy poem to be read during the service or the sympathy poem that may be included in the memory cards. As you or a funeral director plan the service, continue to consider what tasks can be distributed to interested family and friends. Incorporating Family Into the Ceremony Funeral planning involves a number of large and small tasks that can be shared between caring family members and close friends. Here are just a few elements typically included in a funeral or memorial service that may be completed by others. Music Musical family or friends may enjoy playing an instrument or singing an appropriate song at the service. Music often plays a significant part in a memorial service, helping express the grief and love many are unable to verbalize themselves. If you have someone that may be interested in assisting with the music, you can ask them to choose a song or provide a couple of recommendations inspired by the deceased or their family. Eulogy Speaking at the funeral should be a task given to someone (or multiple people) that are comfortable speaking in front of others. Speakers should be balanced where possible providing a few different perspectives on the life of the deceased. Poetry Reading Poems are a powerful tool for expressing unique feelings. If you have an individual with a special talent for writing or poetry, ask them if they are able to provide a reading for the service. If time permits, you may wish to have a poem written by a family member included in the memory book or on a memory card. Poetry may also be something that can be read as part of the eulogy, whether written by a family member or just a favorite poem of the deceased. Greeters Family members that are especially social or possess a certain grace under duress quality may do well as a greeter for guests as they enter the church, home or funeral home. Greeters make sure mourners are comfortable and find places to sit. They also assist them with placing gifts, donations or flowers in the appropriate places. Behind The Scenes Preparation Cleaning up the house, tending the garden, and arranging for food at the home or after the memorial service are good low-cost, high-care tasks for those eager to show their sympathy through deeds. Preparation can also include submitting the obituary to the appropriate newspapers, taking phone calls at the home, and arranging donation services for the family. Some family members may also be asked to help write the appropriate acknowledgement cards to those that sent the family flowers, cards and other sympathies. Having family and friends contribute to the funeral service and its planning helps make the service a memorable and meaningful one. ~Ben Anton, 2008.