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HOW TO CONDUCT A FUNERAL

The choice of funeral ceremonies range from a traditional funeral with embalming and a religious service with the body present to a simple disposition of the body with a memorial service or no service at all. Many people choose something between direct disposition and a traditional funeral, for example a graveside service with close family present and then maybe a memorial service for the wider circle of family and friends. Whatever the case, the ceremony provides an opportunity to commemorate the life of the deceased and to express religious or personal beliefs about life and death. Very often religious traditions will dictate the type of ceremony, and it is generally performed by a local minister, priest or rabbi. But there are also many people who want a special ceremony according to their own interests and beliefs. A common type of service is the memorial service which is usually held after a direct cremation or burial. The service can be in a church, a funeral home, a private home, or any other meeting place. Since the body is not present, the service can be scheduled at any time that is convenient to the survivors. Family and friends might get together for prayers and shared reminiscences about the life of the diseased. Your role as a minister usually consists of holding a short speech and maybe leading the prayers. For people who share a humanist, non-religious view of life and death the funeral service might consist of music and readings of texts that stress e.g. the ideals of human living and kinship with nature. To many people the traditional funeral service seems impersonal and even mechanical. That is why it is so important for the ULC minister to show personal involvement and sensitivity when he is called upon. You should always remember that for those most deeply concerned this is a unique occasion. Talk with the survivors about the service and discuss with them what kind of text they want you to read. The same goes for music. The sad hymns of the traditional church might very well be substituted for more contemporary songs as long as they are in good taste. A minister fulfills his most urgent call when assisting in a funeral, His people need him to give comfort, hope, and spiritual upliftment in their time of sorrow. He should be there to help as quickly as possible when the need arises. He should obey the wishes of the family as to the arrangements. He may make some thoughtful suggestions that will make the service easier on the bereaved, and more uplifting for all attending. The minister and funeral director should go over the plans for the service together so that each may fully understand the arrangements. Conducting the service is the minister's responsibility and not that of the director

 

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