When planning a memorial service in a facility, it’s helpful to think of the unique qualities the resident possessed. Adding personal touches to the service will be memorable for family, friends and fellow residents as well as help provide a feeling of closure. Below are ten ways to personalize a memorial that will truly celebrate and honor the life of your resident.
1. Prepare Quotes
Before the service, write down quotes from staff and residents that describe him or her. This can include one word such as, “Thoughtful” or a memory such as, “We will all remember how he made us laugh with his one-liner jokes.” Read the quotes during the service.
2. Choose a Poem
Select a short poem for you, a friend, family member or staff member to read. Look for a poem that fits the essence of the departed. For example, if he was a “family man”, you may want to choose a poem about the love of a family.
3. Involve Friends and Family
Ask friends and family of the resident if they would like to participate in the service. Offer suggestions on ways they can be involved. Once you know who will be doing what and when, add it to your timeline for a smooth running service.
4. Create a Memory Table
Your memory table can include a nice tablecloth, framed portrait(s), flowers, candles (real or flameless LED) and items that reflect their hobbies/interests. Presenting a nicely decorated memory table can set the tone and show respect.
5. Pass the Photo
Residents residing in a nursing home or assisted living community may have trouble visualizing what the departed looked like. Have a photo of the loved one to pass around at the beginning of the service to refresh their memory. This can help everyone feel connected during the service as they honor their fellow resident and friend.
6. Read a Scripture
Was religion an important part of his or her life? If so, reading a scripture can be a meaningful gesture.
7. Distribute Handouts
Whether it’s a poem that will be read or a program outlining the service, consider including something for guests to read and follow along to. This can also double as a keepsake for residents and family members to take home.
8. Provide Favorite Refreshments
Have a separate table with food and refreshments. For a special touch, include food or beverages that the resident enjoyed such as, a favorite type of cookie or tea.
9. Highlight their Life
A few ways to highlight their life can include speaking of achievements, marriage, time in the military, family and important milestones. Creating a collage board of photos from the past and present can be a meaningful way to commemorate their life. If you do not have many photos of the resident, consider asking family if they would like to bring special photos or items for the memory table.
10. Sing or Play a Song
A beautiful memorial song has the ability evoke emotion in a powerful way. Be sure to include either live or recorded music in your service to make the celebration of life complete.