A Guide to Memorial Services

Information on memorial services and how to plan one

Last updated: 1 February 2017

A memorial service is an opportunity for friends and family to pay their respects after the death of a loved one. Distinct from a funeral service, a memorial service is purely a ceremony for the mourners and does not include a burial or cremation.

Memorial services can be somber occasions, but often are seen as a celebration of a loved one’s life. There are no rules that you need to follow when planning a memorial service. They can take place more than once, anywhere and anytime after death, even years after the funeral.

Planning a memorial service

Memorial services are a very important time for the bereaved. Some may want to celebrate their loved one’s life, while others may wish to spend the memorial in quiet contemplation. What’s important is that you include others in the decision so that everyone feels comfortable with the occasion.

The venue of the memorial service will often dictate the type of service you have. Likewise, the time of day you intend for it to take place, the kind of atmosphere and the number of guests you hope will be there can all be influencing factors on where you choose to celebrate your loved one’s life.

Memorial services at a cemetery or churchyard

Although a memorial service can take place anywhere, they often occur at a cemetery or churchyard. These traditional-type memorials are generally more somber occasions, with mourners reflecting on their loved one peacefully.

Cemetery memorial services may have limitations in terms of the number of mourners allowed to attend, making them often an occasion for the closest friends and family.

They often have religious connotations, so are preferred by many people who draw strength by their faith.

Memorial services at other private venues

Although family homes are often used, venues can also be a place of special significance to your loved one could be meaningful, or you may wish to consider a place to which as many of your friends and family will be able to travel, based on the convenience to other mourners.

To add some personality to the memorial service, many choose to personalize their loved one’s memorial, with eulogies, music and readings inspired by their personality and interests.

Considerations for planning a memorial service

Wherever you decide to hold the memorial service, it’s becoming popular to create keepsakes to help you and others remember the day and the life of your loved one. A memory book is a great way help you through your bereavement and remind you of their significance in your life.

Some families also take the opportunity to help out a cause or charity that was close to their loved one’s heart, or helped them through an illness. They might set aside a place where you can leave a donation at the memorial venue, or set up a memorial page on a website, allowing mourners and sympathizers to donate online. This can be a great way for mourners to express their condolences and pay tribute to your loved one. Online tribute pages provide the opportunity for those unable to attend the funeral to convey their sympathies, and provide a digital space for mourners to visit months or even years after the funeral.

To find out more about our online memorial pages, read our guide to Funeral Zone Obituaries.