How Do I Plan a Funeral Reception That Honors the Deceased?

March 9, 2021   -  

It’s often said that funerals are for the living. They give those left behind a chance to remember the dearly departed and then reflect upon their own lives. When you create a funeral reception that honors the deceased, their friends and loved ones can subsequently remember, mourn, and memorialize.

At The Postage, we’re no stranger to this potentially difficult conversation. We want to walk you through our five recommended steps for planning a post-funeral get-together that respects everyone involved.

1. Learn the Wishes of the Departed

The Postage Icons Blue BurialThe first step in end-of-life planning starts with making a funeral plan. This document gives the deceased the chance to tell friends and family exactly what they might want for their funeral and funeral reception. It often includes the speakers, guest list, decor, music, pallbearers, and more. More importantly, it relieves their loved ones of the burden of making these plans when they should be grieving.

Thus, before you start making any arrangements for the funeral or reception, we suggest looking through your family member’s records to see if they left behind any instructions. Following their plans simplifies the work you need to do and allows you to put your energy into other things.

2. Focus on the Departed

We recommend creating a reception that helps the grieving loved ones direct their attention to how the dearly departed impacted everyone’s lives. Talk to other family members and friends to create a list of favorites that reflect the life of the person who passed, such as:

  • Food and drink
  • Activities
  • Locations
  • Hobbies
  • Music
  • Books
  • Decor

With this information in hand, it’s easier to assemble everything you need to plan the actual funeral reception event.

3. Create the Right Mood

You know your loved one best. This knowledge will prove especially pertinent when developing the right ambiance for the reception. Not everything has to be somber and mournful, but you should balance out the personality of the departed with the feelings of the people in attendance. It’s also essential that you respect all applicable religious and cultural traditions that are important to the departed and their closest loved ones.

For example, the person who passed may have requested that the reception be a joyous celebration of life as part of their funeral plan. But if the passing was sudden, tragic, or otherwise unfortunate, the attendees might not feel like celebrating. You have to walk a fine line between respecting the living and the dead with each element of the event, including the location, decor, events, and entertainment.

4. Encourage Attendees to Remember

Daughter, Mother, and Grandma

Once everyone has finished eating, you can set aside time in the reception for people to tell their favorite memory. Depending upon the size of the event and venue, you could even provide a small microphone setup.

However, not everyone wants to talk in front of others, so you could also offer small stations or opportunities where people can share a recollection, thought, or sentiment about their dearly departed loved one. Ideas include:

  • A Memory book: people can write down their thoughts to the departed or others
  • Memory stones: people can use markers to write on stones they can keep
  • A Memory tree: people write down their thoughts and tie them to the branches with string
  • The Memory table: a collection of memorabilia about the departed that can spark stories

Again, the idea is to help people think about the departed in a way that honors their personal and collective grieving. Treat your reception as a memorial service, and you’ll be on the right track.

5. Make It Easy on Yourself

Planning a funeral reception that honors a recently departed loved one can get overwhelming. You need time to grieve, too — not only be an event planner. Thus, we encourage you to take advantage of anyone and everyone who offers some version of “Let me know how I can help.” 

If they want to be of assistance, let them. This includes:

  • Finding the location
  • Securing the food
  • Assembling the memorabilia
  • Preparing the decor 
  • Providing any entertainment
  • Contacting the guest list
  • Cleaning after the event

You must make time for yourself and your emotions during this time of significant loss. The more planning and responsibilities you can hand off to others, the easier time you’ll have.

Plan a Funeral Reception for the People

To create a post-funeral reception that pays respects to the departed, you must think about their life and relationship with the friends and family members they’ve left behind. By focusing on how people will remember them, you’ll highlight that person’s core character in everyone’s eyes. 

Yes, you want to honor whatever funeral plans they left behind, for example, in their profile on The Postage. But those plans must complement and accentuate the departed in the memories of their loved ones. 

Ultimately, if you focus on taking care of the people at the reception, you will create an event everyone will remember.

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