5 More Tips on Performing a Funeral

The longer I’m in full-time ministry the more I’m asked to do funerals. I did a post a year ago about 5 Tips on Performing a Funeral. Fresh off doing a funeral a month ago I wanted to share 5 more tips to help you perform a funeral well.

6. Prepare questions to ask the family
I’m not always great on the fly, so I like to have a set of questions ahead of time to ask. This’ll help you from missing important details about the family and the funeral. You can use my list to help you start thinking about what questions you’d like to ask. Click here to download it.

7. Have a sample schedule to start with
Most people have been to a funeral before, but are usually lost when it comes time to plan one. One of the best ways you can help them is by starting them off with a “funeral template.” This isn’t meant to be a cookie-cutter service to save you (the pastor) time. Rather, it’s a starting point to help you help the family plan the best service for them. Click here for the template I start off with.

8. Make sure you and the mortuary are on the same page
One mistake I made at my last funeral was not connecting with the mortuary before the service. Instead I just got there early to touch base on details. Everything turned out fine, but it very easily could not have. Touching base with the mortuary a few days before keeps all of you from scrambling the day of the funeral, when you need to available the most.

9. Give everyone permission to grieve
People need to know it’s OK to grieve. They need permission to be sad and mad, to know God can handle their anger and is there to comfort. Remind them grief isn’t something to get over, but it is something to work through and to allow themselves the time to heal. Grief is also a sign they loved someone and love is never a sign of weakness.

10. Talk to the audience about how they can help
This is a tip I got from a friend I wish I had done at my last funeral. After the family has left, before dismissing everyone else to the graveside, talk to them about how they can help. Steer them away from platitudes like, “God must have needed another angel,” or “This must have been God’s plan,” or “They’re in a better place now” when you’re not sure that’s the case. These kind of sentiments, though well-meant, usually hurt more than help.

Instead direct them to real action like, “I’m going to the store, what can I get you?” or “I want to bring you dinner tonight. Is there anything you’re allergic to or don’t like?” or “Can I wash your car or mow your yard this week?” These kind of statements take the pressure off people who are grieving because they don’t have to think up something to do when people ask, “What can I do to help?”

If you would like to see one of my funeral messages just go to my contact page here to email me and I’ll send it to you.

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What tips would you add to this list?

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