The death of a loved one comes with a lot of emotion, sadness, and remembering the good times. Along with it, though, is the responsibility of details and arrangements for things like a celebration of life. It can be a tough time to have decisions like this on your plate, so here’s a memorial service checklist to be your guide to planning a celebration of life.
Time and a place
Be sure to think of the guests, specifically close relatives and friends, when figuring out a date and place for the celebration. These logistical details could depend on when out-of-town guests will be able to make it. Also consider location and type of celebration of life venue. Hazeltine National Golf Club, for example, has plenty of room for guests, and a gorgeous backdrop for celebration of life events.
If you're planning a program, someone will need to lead the event. A pastor or church minister is a good option if the deceased was a religious person. Otherwise, there are plenty of non-denominational leaders to choose for the event.
Another consideration is who will speak. That can be a delicate subject. Sometimes family or friends will come forward and want to speak. If no one is exactly raising their hand for this task, however, organizers might need to sensitively ask people if they wouldn’t mind sharing a few thoughts. Or, you may want to plan out who will speak ahead of time.
Then there’s deciding on music or readings, decorations, and food and drinks, too. Some families choose the favorite foods of their loved one, catered meals, or even a potluck where guests provide the food. Let the personality of your loved one – or your family – be the guide.
Spread the word
This celebration will be special, so the more guests the better. That means putting effort into letting people know when and where the celebration of life will happen. Once you have a guest list, have some friends call or text another group of people with all the details. Emails or e-invites might be a good timesaving option, too, but they should only be sent to people who know about the death. Take care with how the information is shared; be sensitive. Keep in mind that using social media to share the news of a death with close family and friends might not be the best idea.
Timing is everything
When planning, try to take into account how much time each part of the celebration will take. If you're planning a program, 30-60 minutes could be just fine. Think of who will attend, and remember that youngsters and the elderly might have trouble staying seated for anything that would last longer than an hour.
Don’t forget the guest book
Whether it’s a spiral-bound book with an array of colorful pens, or an online guest book, it’s a detail that will be memorable for family members. Creativity can come in handy here. A guest book can be more than just names. Family and friends could each share fond memories, add their favorite photographs, or offer words of sympathy. As an added touch, considering having guests make a scrapbook.
Hazeltine National Golf Club is a private golf club located in Chaska, Minn., about 30 minutes southwest of downtown Minneapolis. The club opened in 1962 with a mission to build and maintain a golf course suitable for the conduct of national championships. Hazeltine is one of only two courses in the United States to have hosted the U.S. Open, PGA Championship, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Amateur, and Ryder Cup. Hazeltine’s meeting and event space, golf shop and specified services in the learning center are open to the public. More information about becoming a member at Hazeltine is available at www.hazeltinenational.com.