Urns & Pendants

FAQ – Memorial Services

What is a memorial service?

Here’s an interesting way to answer the question: a memorial service is not a funeral. Picture what you believe to be the traditional funeral, and then mentally tear up the image. Both ceremonies have structure; both are intended to bring community together in support and remembrance. But one is far more formal than the other; a memorial service is not lead by clergy, but guided by a celebrant or master-of-ceremonies. It provides all who attend the service an opportunity to participate on some level, not just to observe and reflect.

 

How does it differ from a celebration-of-life or funeral?

Visualize a memorial service as a mid-point on the spectrum of service format possibilities. On one end is the more formally-structured, clergy-led funeral service (often with three component parts: the visitation, funeral and a committal service held at the cemetery). At the other end is the celebration-of-life; an event where the life of the deceased–their passions, intellectual pursuits and personal accomplishments–are the focus of attention. A funeral isn’t truly celebratory, where a celebration-of-life is all about celebration. A memorial service could be said to be a gentle mix of the two; but in all honesty, each memorial service is unique. Speak with your funeral professional for further insights.

Which type of service format is right for me and my family?

There’s really no way we can tell you which service would be the best in your situation. In fact, we don’t believe it’s even part of our job to tell you; instead, our work is in showing you the spectrum of possibilities. We can explain your options, make suggestions; all with the goal of empowering you to arrive at the best possible decision.

How much will a memorial service cost?

This is a lot like asking “how much will it cost to buy a car?” The answer is totally dependent upon the ‘bells & whistles’–the special features–you’ve selected during the arrangement conference. When you sit down with a funeral director to discuss service costs, you’ll receive a copy of the firm’s General Price List which will detail all the basic professional services included in the price of your loved one’s memorial service, as well as the cost of any ancillary products or services you’ve purchased. Call us to get a better idea of what your loved one’s memorial service will do for you, as well as what it will cost.

What "extra" fees or charges will I need to pay?

Some of the things you’ll discuss with your funeral director involve purchases made from outside vendors, and you will be asked to pay for those items at the time of the arrangement conference. One of the most common is the fee charged by a newspaper to print your loved one’s obituary. Another cash advance charge could be for clergy or musician’s fees, floral arrangements, reception necessities, such as food/beverage or facility rental. Your funeral director will provide you with a detailed invoice for all cash advance items.

What are "cash advance items"?

Some of the things you’ll discuss with your funeral director involve purchases made from outside vendors, and you will be asked to pay for those items at the time of the arrangement conference. One of the most common is the fee charged by a newspaper to print your loved one’s obituary. Another cash advance charge could be for clergy or musician’s fees, floral arrangements, reception necessities, such as food/beverage or facility rental. Your funeral director will provide you with a detailed invoice for all cash advance items.

Why must I pay for these items ahead of time?

The vendors we work with the newspapers, florists, caterers and musicians, all require us to pay for goods and services when ordered or at the time of delivery. Our “good faith” relationship with them requires us to charge you for them at the close of the arrangement conference. Your funeral director will take time to explain any and all of the necessary cash advance expenses incurred as part of your service planning.

How and when should I pay?

A good rule of thumb is to expect to pay at the time the service contract is signed (at the time of the arrangement conference, or soon afterwards). Speak with your funeral director to learn more.

What's involved in planning a memorial service?

We’ve actually written a number of pages on memorial service planning, but the short answer would include the tasks of selecting the location, date and time of the service. You’ll be asked to identify the specific readings, musical selections, food or beverages, and/or the activities you’d like to feature, as well as the people you would like to participate in the service itself. Memorial service planning isn’t difficult; it’s empowering. After all, you’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show the world how much your loved one meant to you. We invite you to speak with one of our service planning professionals to learn more.

How much will I have to be involved?

How much would you like to be involved? Certainly, your funeral director will need you to specify certain details: the where and when, for example. Together you’ll make important decisions about other specifics, but once those decisions are made, you can “step back” and let us handle everything or have as much input as you please.

What items will I need to bring to the funeral home?

You’ll need to provide the documents/information required to complete your loved one’s death certificate and obituary. You may also wish to bring in a collection of family photographs to be used in making a tribute video or in the decoration of the service location. Other items may be needed at some point, depending on the arrangements made. Your funeral director will provide you with an exact list of the things he or should would like you to bring along to the arrangement conference.

What is a civil celebrant? How can he or she help?

A celebrant is a person who has been trained to conduct formal ceremonies, such as weddings, baptisms and funerals. They are not clergy; instead they are experienced masters-of-ceremony and story-tellers. A celebrant works closely with surviving family to create a ceremony which reflects the beliefs, cultural background, values and aspirations of your deceased loved one, and your family. If you think you would be best served by a celebrant, please speak with your funeral director.

Will I, or another family member, need to write the obituary?

Commonly the funeral director who met with you during the arrangement conference will assume the responsibility of writing the obituary. You will support them in doing so by providing them with the necessary legal documents (birth certificates, military records, and marriage or divorce decrees) and other important details about your loved one’s life. If you, or another family member or friend, wish to write the obituary, we can help to guide you through the process.

Take the first step today and plan ahead at Fresno's Leading Family Funeral Home