When a loved one passes away, there are many ways that you can honor their memory.
One way to do this is by holding funeral graveside services.
While a graveside service may sound similar to a regular funeral service, it has a few distinctions. This type of service is held by the grave where your loved one will be laid to rest. Compared to traditional funeral services, funeral graveside services are relatively short and may include both non-religious and religious elements, such as hymns and poems. In addition, graveside services take place outdoors and visitation is typically not allowed.
However, planning funeral graveside services can be difficult. When you’ve just lost a loved one, you’ll be dealing with a lot of emotional turmoil and pressure, from the pain of losing someone you once held dear, and the stress of planning the other aspects of the funeral.
Planning your loved one’s funeral
Here’s a guide to help you plan out graveside services for your loved one’s funeral and how you and your family can heal after the funeral.
1. Choose the right location for the service
If you have already picked a cemetery to put your loved one to rest, coordinate with the cemetery staff and ask them about the most suitable places on the grounds where funeral graveside services can take place.
Additionally, make sure to ask them if they can provide chairs, tents, and sound equipment and inquire about the fees and permits you’ll need to make the graveside services happen. Check the weather report and decide which day would be best for the funeral. Since graveside services are done outdoors, choose a day with clear weather to hold the service, if possible.
2. Decide who will officiate the service
Next, you will need to choose someone to officiate your loved one’s graveside services. The officiant can be anyone; a religious leader, a funeral director, or even a family member. If you choose a family member as an officiate, you will need to make sure that they are prepared for the task.
You may also invite someone from outside the family, like a close friend of your loved one, someone who worked with them, or anyone who had a meaningful relationship with your loved one.
3. Organize the order of events
Graveside funeral services have a simple format but you can customize it according to your loved one’s family’s wishes or their traditions and religious requirements. Here’s what a typical graveside service entails:
- Opening remarks and prayer by the officiant
- Reading of scriptures, poems, or other texts by the officiant or other participants
- Eulogy or tribute by the officiant or a family member or friend
- A committal or final farewell, where the casket or urn is lowered or placed, and the officiant says a prayer or blessing
- Closing remarks and prayer by the officiant
- Music, such as a hymn, a song, a bagpipe, or any other instrument
- Dismissal, where the officiant thanks the guests and invites them to leave or join a reception
The sequence of events is up to you and your family, so take some time to discuss with your family how they would like the service to be held and what they would like to see.
4. Plan out the logistics of the service
After deciding to opt for a graveside funeral service, you’ll need to plan out the logistics. Decide how the casket will be carried to the gravesite, by pallbearers or hearse, and you may also need to arrange transport for your guests if need be.
In addition, you may need to inform all your guests about the appropriate attire they should wear for the service and let them know about specific religious graveside customs.
5. Arrange a reception afterwards
Finally, after the service is over, you may arrange a small social gathering for guests and family members where you can have some refreshments, share stories about your lost loved one, and come to terms with your grief.
Make sure to choose a venue that fits your budget, but you can have this gathering at your local church or home if you choose to.
6. Caring for yourself afterwards
After the funeral is over, you will want to take some time for yourself. The grief of losing a loved one and the stress of planning out the funeral service can be extremely taxing for both you and your family. Here are a few ways that you and your family can heal:
- Join a local support group where you can share your feelings and connect with other people who have experienced similar situations
- Look for counseling or get help from a qualified therapist. They may be able to help you heal by giving you advice on how you can deal with your grief and offer you coping strategies
- Find ways to express yourself, like writing, painting, singing, songwriting, meditating, and partaking in yoga.
Remember, self-care is very important to help your mind and heart heal from sadness.
Get help with funeral graveside services
If planning graveside services feels too stressful during your time of grief, don’t worry—you can always turn to funeral homes that offer professional funeral services for help. They will guide you through all the ins and outs of funeral services and even help you and your family come to terms with your loss.