4 SPECIAL MEMORIAL SERVICES
Candlelight Service at Church
A candlelighting service presented at night in a church is touching and lovely. It creates a formal spiritual atmosphere for your memorial gathering.
Meet with the clergyman to work out the details and ask if he or she can coordinate the service and provide a eulogy/prayers. Make sure to get approval for the candlelighting ceremony you have planned. Arrange for the organist or choir to provide music and help in the selection of songs. For Christians, “Amazing Grace” is a beautiful musical tribute favored by many for a church service.
Most churches are accustomed to organizing services of this nature and church staff can help in decorations, music, refreshments, etc. Be prepared to compensate the pastor, organist, kitchen staff, etc. for their services. A large formal service may incur quite a bit of expense.
Sunset Memorial Gravesite Service
Sunset Memorial Gravesite
A sunset gathering at the gravesite can provide a moving and memorable setting for your ceremony. This is a good option for a smaller, more informal service.
Check with the memorial park’s staff for guidelines, hours of operation and other important details. A nice touch would be a table setup nearby with a white tablecloth, offering light snacks and refreshments. Decorate it with flowers, plants or candles.
You can also incorporate a candlelighting and poetry reading or prayer at the end of the sunset memorial gravesite ceremony.
A Dove Release
Any outside memorial service lends itself well to a dove release. The provided birds are not really doves, but are white homing pigeons, and do find their way back home. A dove release is a spectacular and beautiful way to end your memorial ceremony, so try to get someone to shoot some video of the event.
You can hire dove release services in most areas of the country. Larger cities may be listed in the yellow pages under “dove release”. Or do an internet search for : dove release (your city)(your state).
These two websites also provide directories of dove release services:
Some dove release companies actually give you the basket of birds so you can release them yourself, while others require that they be there to do the release (more expensive). Be sure to ask if you can put down a deposit for the basket and do the release yourself without their attendance.
A dove release is quite poignant and highly recommended for your service.
Scattering of Ashes at Sea
Was your loved one cremated? You might want to consider scattering his ashes at sea. This can be most appropriate and comforting if your lost one was a “free spirit”, or an environmentally conscious person.
Why? There is no more direct, earth-friendly disposal of the remains of the deceased than the random scattering of the “cremains”. And no part of the earth must be “reserved” as a final resting place for them.
And why the sea? If you think about it, anything scattered upon the sea (theoretically) will eventually be spread throughout the world’s oceans. How else could you be spread so far and wide? Your lost one would belong to the whole world!
All you need to do for a sea scattering is to rent or hire a boat (deck boats hold lots of people). If you rent a boat, make sure you designate an experienced captain to pilot it. If you hire a boat charter for the occasion, make sure you tell them what you plan to do.
According to maritime law, you must go out 3 miles from shore before you scatter the ashes. I don’t know why, as cremains are always sterile due to the process they must go through. Although we cannot legally advocate that you break this law, we don’t understand why 3 miles would be necessary. You decide.
Provide each participant with a single flower. Plan a short ceremony of eulogies, poems and/or prayers. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the ashes are poured over the side of the boat, then the flowers are dropped into the sea. Bring a camcorder to record the event.
There are some other very imaginative and symbolic means to scatter the ashes of your lost one, such as:
- Balloon to the heavens (it bursts 5 miles up)
- Scattering in the High Sierra mountains
- Cast into an artificial reef restoration project
- Scattering of ashes at sea (if you don’t have access)
Cremation can be a reasonably priced but dignified and fitting tribute to your loved one. It would be especially appropriate for someone who has expressed concerns for the environment. Check this page for details on unique ash scattering services, guidelines for scattering at sea, and information on the cremation process: Cremation.
Sunset Memorial Gravesite