1. Consider purpose & tone

“A memorial is right when it fits the deceased so well that the bereaved recognize them in the ceremony.” – Jeltje Gordon-Lennox, Crafting Secular Ritual

Use the following prompts to help you identify the purpose and the right tone for the memorial.

The person who died

  • Who was the person who died? What did they love and value most?

  • How might they have liked their death to be marked? Did they share their end-of-life wishes with someone or in writing?

  • What cultural, religious, or spiritual traditions were meaningful to them?

  • What artifacts of their life might you incorporate? e.g. special songs, significant objects, poetry they loved, spiritual or religious passages, stylish dress?

  • Who would they have wanted to participate in remembering them? And in what ways?

  • Which particular stories or moments of their lives are most meaningful to surface?

Those who remain

  • What was the death like for the people who remain?

  • What was their relationship to the person who died?

  • What do celebrants need from a memorial? How would you like them to feel after the memorial?

  • How many celebrants will be attending? How would you like them to participate in this experience?

  • What cultural, religious, or spiritual influences are most meaningful to this community?

Reflect on these questions alone or with loved ones. You may wish to write them down. They will help you identify things to say, share, and sing, and to envision how this memorial should feel.