Funeral Planning: What You Should Include in an Order of Service

Death always tends to come as a shock; unfortunately, for the survivors, it isn’t really something that you can prepare for. When a loved one passes away, there is a lot for those left behind to do. One of the biggest planning tasks is the funeral or celebration of life.

This can be made all the more challenging if the death was unexpected and the departed didn’t leave behind any wishes or instructions for their service. 

What is an Order of Service?

To put it as simply as possible, an order of service is essentially a program for the funeral to tell the mourners what is going to happen and when. Mourners are given the order of service when they enter the funeral.

Often the actual order of service will simply entail what you have already decided with the funeral director. A lot of people are unfamiliar with the process of planning a funeral and what it should actually entail. 

Funerals are obviously a sad and upsetting experience, they can be hard to process, and no one wants to make a mistake; again, the order of service can help here. It outlines what the mourners can expect.

Obviously, the celebration of life invitations themselves will outline the details of the funeral, like where and when it is, and the order of service is provided to mourners when they arrive.

Creating an invitation to a funeral can feel overwhelming, which is why it might be beneficial to look up templates or advice which you can find from Greenvelope. 

The Layout

The layout of an order of service is pretty immovable; while they are obviously customized to the preferences of the deceased and the organizer, they tend to be as follows.

They are usually A5 in size, and the first page or the cover tends to provide the basic details of the deceased. It lists their name as well as their birth and death dates.

Most people also tend to choose to include their favorite photo of the deceased too. The details of the service may also be included, like the time, date and location of the service. 

The next page is where the service itself begins to be outlined. Most funerals begin with a song chosen by or on behalf of the deceased that is played while the coffin makes its way to the top of the church or crematorium. The officiant then welcomes the mourners and proceeds to introduce the service in a sense.

After that follows the eulogy, which is often read by a relative, although if no one feels able to, the officiant can read that out too, the eulogy usually marks a period of time where mourners can read or talk if they want to; this is usually decided on ahead of time.

Remember, the order of service can be as detailed as you like. This usually takes up a full page but may overrun onto the next. 

The following page often starts detailing the next reading. The reading itself will depend on the type of service that the person is having and whether it is a religious service or not. It could be a poem or a reading from a religious text like the Bible, Torah or Quran or even a prayer.

After this, it is usually time for the committal, which means the time for the coffin to be taken away; if the deceased is to be buried, then the coffin will be removed to be taken to the cemetery, or if the deceased has chosen to be cremated then a curtain is often drawn around the coffin. Mourners usually stand in quiet contemplation while this happens.

After this, the minister or officiant is likely to say a few closing words, address the mourners and may even provide details of the wake should one be taking place. Lastly, as the mourners exist, there tends to be a final song which is also often chosen in advance by the deceased. 

The final page or back cover of the order of service tends to mirror the front cover. Any additional photographs that the family have chosen tend to go here. Some people also choose to write a little something about the deceased or include lyrics, poetry or a snippet from prose. It tends to be something that encapsulates the spirit of the deceased.

Some people also tend to list the deceased favorite charity and ask mourners to donate in lieu of flowers. Lastly, it will also tend to include the details of the wake. 

The Bottom Line

A funeral only tends to last for around half an hour, they are over incredibly quickly, and thanks to the stress and grief, the mourners often don’t retain the events.

This is another reason why providing them with an order of service is popular, it gives the mourners a keepsake to remember the experience by, and it can help in the grieving process too.

Truthfully, there is no right or wrong way to create an order of service; the funeral director will be able to help you.

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