When someone dies, it's a very difficult time for family and friends left to grieve. Funeral services need to be planned quickly when not prearranged. A funeral officiant will work closely with the family representative to coordinate the funeral services, write the eulogy, select music, prepare the order of service and possibly secure a venue. It's important to know exactly what pieces will be the officiant's responsibility.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
Prepare your guideline according to the type of service you're officiating. Work closely with the coordinator to determine which parts will be your responsibility, and which will be provided to you.
Write a list of questions that will help you collect the information you need to complete these parts. Many sources online offer examples of each thing you need to prepare, which will help you develop the questions you need to ask (see Resources). These may prompt you on points you have overlooked.
Collect examples of eulogies, quotes and orders of service. Eulogies that you've written or read and liked are a great resource and guide for writing what you need. You can get examples from churches and non-denominational organisations, or search online (see Resources).
Write a eulogy based on the information you are given and questions you ask the representative and family. If you know the deceased person well, you may be asked to rely on what you know about the person.
Write up the order of service, or program, according to what you know should be included, such as the eulogy, entrance and exit music, and speakers. Refer to the information you collected from the family and your examples.
Moderate the service, keeping the events moving forward. If there is no clergy or other person the family chooses, this duty falls to the funeral officiant.
Officiating a Funeral Service
Tips and warnings
- Rely on your expertise to prepare the funeral service. Be prepared to defer to the family if there is something divergent from your plan that they insist upon.
- Be prepared to work quickly and efficiently. Read through your guidelines and questions to be intimately familiar with what you have to accomplish. Practice will help you to recall easily what needs to be done and what you need to ask to get your work done.
- For the bereaved, peace of mind is an important part of having the service prepared. Giving the impression that you know what you're doing will inspire the family to trust you honour their wishes effectively and in a timely manner.
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