So, you've been tasked with the job of creating the funeral program. This may seem like a daunting and difficult job that comes at a difficult time. However, creating the funeral program is a lasting way to cherish the memory of your loved one.
What Is a Funeral Program?
A memorial funeral program is a card or handbill that is passed out as guests arrive at a funeral. A traditional funeral program will highlight the basic timeline of the funeral service, summarize the deceased person's life and achievements, and provide any information funeral guests will need for the day.
Funeral programs are typically printed on quality cardstock or stationary. Traditionally, this card will be kept with family documents or in a scrapbook, to be handed down from generation to generation. Like an obituary, a funeral program is a final record of a deceased person's life. If a funeral service is being held, a program should be created for guests as a keepsake and schedule of events.
What Information Should Be Included in the Funeral Program?
What is included in the funeral program will depend on your family's beliefs, the events scheduled for the day of the funeral, and the final wishes of the deceased person.
Typically, funeral programs will include the following sections, laid out in an attractive way for guests to easily access the information they seek.
The Funeral's Schedule of Events, Including Names of Speakers
Including the schedule of events is valuable for two reasons. First, it will preserve an exact record of how the funeral service was handled. This record can be nice to preserve for future reference, as memory during times of grief can be extremely faulty.
Second, guests at the service who may be unsure of how your family will handle the service can follow along. They may not know who certain eulogists are, or the order of events. Giving them an idea of what will occur clears up any confusion about the events of the day. If you create an understandable schedule, you can ensure less of your time is spent answering guests' questions on the day of the funeral.
The Family Tree
A family tree can be included in a funeral program to let guests who are not related understand the family relationships. When they see a eulogist name matching one on the tree, they can begin to piece together who everyone is without needing to ask. This is especially helpful if many of the guests will be friends, acquaintances, or strangers to the deceased person.
A High-Quality Photo of the Deceased Person As They Were in Life
The photo is what will truly make or break any funeral program or obituary notice. Many families struggle to find a high-resolution photo — especially when the deceased person was very elderly at the time of death. However, including a photo ensures the funeral program is kept by the funeral guest after the service. Seeing the actual likeness of a deceased person during a funeral service will deeply resonate with mourners.
If the photo you would like to include in the program is aged, damaged, or too dark, consider asking for help with touching up the quality so that it may be printed in its best form. Friends who are handy with photo enhancing tools, or your family's funeral director, are great resources for this task — and it will be well worth the extra effort.
An Account of the Deceased Person's Life Story
The life story is the essence of a meaningful funeral program. Though your family has likely already published the obituary notice ahead of the funeral, this is a chance to explore the special life of your loved one in greater detail. For those who knew the deceased person, the memories of the deceased person will be pored over and cherished during and after the service. For those who may not have known the deceased person as well, it will serve as an introduction to the person they are mourning.
Because the funeral program will only be distributed to guests who attended the funeral, and perhaps those family members who were unable to attend in person, it is appropriate to include more personal details of their life. You can use this story as the basis for a full online retrospective obituary, once you are ready to delve into their full and detailed life story.
Poems or Meaningful Quotes
If a poem has been meaningful to your family in grief, include it as an extra special addition to the funeral program. If the poem or quote is to be recited during the service, it can help guests to follow along.
Special Scripture or Religious Readings
Similar to including meaningful poems or quotes, noting exact Scriptures and religious messages can help guests understand the funeral service. This is especially true when the service will be a religious one. Some guests in attendance may not share the same beliefs. Providing the religious sentiment on the card can improve understanding for everyone there. Check out some meaningful Bible verses that are appropriate here.
Lyrics to Any Songs or Hymns to be Performed in the Funeral Service
Certain songs may be sung or played during the service. In many church services, people will sing along. If this is going to be encouraged, it's highly recommended that you include all guests by putting the lyrics in the program for reference.
A Message of Thanks to Mourners Who Attended the Funeral
It is important to include a message of thanks to those who have come to the funeral to mourn. You can also mention loved ones who contributed to planning the funeral, cared for the deceased during a terminal illness, or helped in any way. It is your family's opportunity to thank anyone in the community for their assistance during a particularly trying time of grief.
Any Pertinent Instructions for Guests (For Example, Directions to the Funeral Reception)
Many families will host several funeral events. If there are any other plans for mourning, such as a wake or reception, it is pertinent to include all the details guests will need, so that they do not need to approach you on the day of the funeral.
How Is the Funeral Program Printed?
If you or someone you know is well-versed in layout tools or Photoshop, you may be able to construct and print the funeral programs all on your own. Ensure you purchase high-quality cardstock and enough ink to handle all the programs required — and some extras.
However, this process can be extremely time-consuming. Amongst all the funeral preparations and planning, is creating a funeral program from scratch the wisest way to spend your time? If the funeral is going to attract a large number of guests, you will save yourself both time and money by hiring a printing or publishing company to handle the funeral program for you.
Simply gather all of the information your family would like to be included in the program, along with the touched-up photo, and delegate this task to a professional. Most funeral directors offer this service as an included part of the funeral package or for an additional fee. By leaving the layout and printing to a professional, you can ensure the funeral program does the life of your loved one justice.