Recently, I have been officiating more funerals, celebrations of life and memorial services. This is a time for families that can be overwhelming and not all families want to use a funeral parlor for these particular rites. I partner with some area funeral homes for people who may want interfaith, secular, or just spiritual rituals.
At times, I have also been asked to be at the internment of the deceased. This is sometimes not also requested up front, and it is important as an officiant to make sure you ask if you will be needed.
I am still learning that it is okay to ask lots of questions. Some of these are:
- Will services be for a memorial service, and/or the internment at the cemetery?
- Do there be any special readings to include? Will others be speaking?
- Do you want to invite the people present to share or not?
- Will there be any military, fraternal, or similar organizational style presentations?
- Do you have a copy of the obituary to be read?
- Who will deliver eulogy (eulogies)?
- Do you have specific music you wish to be played?
- Are there specific prayers, poetry, or readings you would like read?
- Will there be a meal after the service you want family and friends to be invited to?
- If you are needed at the cemetery for the internment, where will it be and at what time? How long do you want the service to be?
- Will there be military rites at the burial? Which branch of the military?
- Will you have pall bearers?
- What do you want to say publicly about the deceased?
- Will the ceremony have a religious, spiritual, or secular feeling?
The funeral parlor should have all of this information for you. It is also useful to double check when you meet with the family also.
There is no such thing as asking too many questions. The ones you do not ask might create upsets or breakdowns. Miscommunications happen and you want to make sure you have done everything you can to be clear.
The final thing I remind myself is that grief is love. It is a deep love. Be honoring of it.