A memorial service, which can be held with or without the body present, is designed by the family. It can be a small, informal gathering at a beach, park, or garden, or a large formal church service. It can be as unique as the life it commemorates, including verses, prayers, hymns, songs and more. Sometimes a member of the clergy, family member, or friend delivers a eulogy. Similar to a funeral, a memorial service might have ushers escorting guests to seats, and a guest register to sign.

Personalizing a memorial can have therapeutic value for the family. In a personalized service, an arrangement of items is usually set up where the service is held. For example, family members might display the honoree's favorite team pennant, uniform, or trophies. Photos of the person at every stage of his life, or even videos, can be displayed.

Cremation urns can also be personalized. Engrave the urn with a military emblem, school logo, special saying, or even a symbol of a favorite activity.


  • When attending a service, be on time and enter the house of worship as quietly as possible.
  • If there are no ushers, the seats closer to the altar or front are for very close friends; acquaintances should sit in the middle or toward the rear.
  • If you are late, enter a pew or row of seats from a side aisle, not the center.
  • If the processional has begun, wait outside until all members of the cortege have walked down the aisle.

During the Service

  • Sit quietly and don't get up during the service - unless you have a cough that won't stop or you have to quiet a crying or unruly child.
  • If a eulogy or tribute has humorous stories or anecdotes, it's fine to laugh - but not too raucously.
  • Try not to do anything that distracts others: fidget, squirm in your seat, twirl your hair, chew gum.