Recently I attended the personalised memorial of a dear family member on my Husbands side, Mr Bruce Malcolm Roberts. "Uncle Bruce" was a fixture in the Five Dock community for 60 years, with heavy involvement in Rotary and Apex. People LOVED Bruce, from local businesses to community members, family and friends.
A large non religious service was hosted with casket present at the Breakfast Point Country Club with family, friends and community members discussing Bruce’s love of art and money. The service had live music (including the appropriate “money, money, money” by ABBA), fresh floral arrangements, and we stayed on at the same venue after the ceremony for refreshments. Being a non practicing christian, it seemed fitting to farewell Bruce in such a way.
Personalising a memorial service has no limits. When it comes to farewelling your loved one, it’s most important to consider their personality, your family values, what kind of mood and the tone you would like to set for the memorial.
Here are some options to consider when planning a memorial.
Personalised memorial at home
There is a rise in people choosing to host loved ones funerals at home with more families opting for a private and more personalised memorial service. The reason behind this is the desire to have familiarity, comfort and privacy to honour their loved one in their home. It can be a nice place to say goodbye.
In addition, from a planning point of view it could be less stressful. Your funeral director can assist you with planning so you can concentrate on personalising the service with music, souvenirs, photos and decorations, food or flowers.
Where in the house to have the memorial is up to you: some prefer to move the furniture and do it in the living room area, others prefer the garden, if the weather allows it.
At a function centre or public venue
Function centres are a suitable choice for those planning memorials for people who aren’t particularly religious, though are expecting a large number of attendees. Some long term residents of Sydney are fixtures in the community and will have a public venue or function centre that holds special value to them - why not host their memorial in a place that holds sentimental or social meaning to them?
You can generally hire a venue for exclusive use, including options for personalisation such as hiring live music, catering and the option for multimedia displays. Most venues are very helpful in assisting with personal items for display, such as musical instruments, sporting equipment, photos and other items that really celebrate your loved one's life. There is often easy accessibility for guests to come and go pending their emotional state and plenty of bathrooms and seating available which is ideal for older friends and family.
In a church
If the person who has passed was religious, it is likely you have considered the possibility of a memorial at your local church. Whether religious or not, some people take comfort in being in the place their children were christened, they were married or they have farewelled another loved one. Your family’s church might have limitations to the personalisation of the service, though speaking with your funeral director and the pastor of the church will confirm whether it’s the right place for you to say goodbye.
At the beach
Having a memorial at the beach could be a beautiful choice when it comes to honouring a loved one’s life, especially if the person felt a special connection to the ocean, which is the case of many Australians.
However, careful planning is needed when it comes to a beach funeral. You will need to consider how private it will be, especially in summer. Try to avoid peak hours of the day so the memorial can be as intimate as possible. It's also best to hold the service in the morning, as they are generally less windy.
In addition, if scattering ashes into the ocean, you will need to make sure the tide is appropriate, so that the ashes are widely dispersed in the water and don’t fall on the sand. You will need to seek approval from the local council to scatter ashes at the beach.
At a park they loved
Having a memorial service in a public park can be a lovely way to say goodbye, especially if they shared a special connection to nature or this park held a special connection for your family. It’s important when hosting a ceremony in any public place to seek approval from the local council as you may require permission to scatter ashes.
It is actually possible and perfectly legal to hold a memorial service overseas. If your loved one was born elsewhere or simply loved a place so much that you feel is the right place to say goodbye, travelling overseas is an option. In order to make it happen, you should get in contact with the consulate of the country you will be taking the ashes to and see if they would allow it. You will also need to carry the ashes in a sealed container and provide the death certificate upon departure in Australia.
On a boat
Having a memorial service out at sea could be of special significance if your loved one had a deep connection to the ocean. If your loved one was in the Navy, a scuba diver, a marine biologist or even a fishermen, this might be the natural choice for you. Having the service at sea doesn’t mean you can’t personalise the memorial further, you may just need to consider the size of the boat for the style of the service you would like to conduct. A funeral director can assist you with unique personalised memorial services that really suit the personality of your beloved.
If you wanted to host a private, family only ceremony to scatter the ashes of the departed, you are able to hire a small motor boat (for eight people) in some areas of NSW. This option has limitations on where you are able to go based on whether or not you are holding a boat license.
Uncle Bruce’s service was an excellent example of hosting a funeral service outside of a funeral home or crematorium. There are several great venues that can offer a more personalised memorial service for your loved one and give you a chance to farewell them in a comfortable, social or appropriate manner. Is there a special place your loved one liked to socialise? A place in the community they loved or something special about their job that can help to host a more personalised memorial? If you’re unsure, you can always talk to your funeral director for some ideas or look back and think about your loved one’s favourite places for ideas.
If you need any guidance during this process, Lady Anne funeral directors are always happy to help and work towards your preference, providing services to plan and coordinate a customised and personalised event. For more information about personalising your loved ones memorial, get in touch with us.