First off, I am so sorry that you’re here.

Whether you’ve landed here as the person bearing the responsibility and burden of planning a memorial, or as someone looking to help a friend or loved one–my heart is with you.

Planning a memorial service, funeral, celebration of life, whatever you choose to call it… can be challenging and painful.

I hope that something here helps lighten your load in any way possible.

Now, let’s get into it:

Step #1

Make every decision from a place of love.

I want to be very clear, all the things you’re feeling right now, all the pain in your heart, all the overwhelm, one day it will lighten. And it is my personal mission to make sure that when that day comes, you are proud of each and every decision you made while weathering this storm. The best way you can do that, is to operate from a lens of love.

There are going to be hard things that come up inside this already difficult time. People may let you down, things may not go as you planned. That’s okay. You are doing the best that you can. This is not a time for ego, or leveling the playing the field, or selfishness. Let your actions be a reflection of a heart wide open, full of love, even when it seems impossible. Do this to the best of your abilities, and you WILL be proud of your decisions, no matter the outcome. And that pride will withstand the tests of time.

If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed or upset, let yourself feel it. Do not push it down. Feel your feelings. Let yourself be SAFE to experience what you’re going through. And then, recognize that this is not permanent. Regardless of your circumstances, choose love every time. Even in the simplest of things: what songs you’ll play during the service, what bible verse you’ll use in the program, etc. Make those decisions with LOVE. Your loved one will be proud regardless.

Trust me, there’s a reason I made this Step #1. Use this to guide everything else to come.

Step #2

Establish a timeline.

As someone who planned a celebration of life with zero experience and only resource being Google–I can tell you it’s easiest to work backwards.

What’s the end game? The service, right?

Okay, now let’s work back.

What needs to be organized in order for the service to occur?

  • Picking a venue
    • Will you use a church, religious facility, or funeral home?
    • If not, what are you looking for?
      • How many people do you expect to attend?
      • What is your budget?
      • What date are you hoping to schedule it for?
  • Individuals involved…
    • Who will run the show? Do you have a pastor or friend/family-member who is willing and able?
    • Who will also speak?
      • Do you plan to speak yourself? Note: I felt very compelled to speak at my mother’s service, though it took me up until the MORNING OF to prepare my speech. I personally am so glad I did. Not everyone needs that experience–go with your gut here. Again, operate from a place of love. If you want to speak but are afraid, don’t let that guide your decision. You are stronger than you think and capable of more than you know. You will be okay. And if it’s just not for you–then own that and let someone else take this responsibility.
    • Who will help you set up and tear down?

Now you have an idea of what all needs to get done in order to get you to the day-of. You know who’s going to be by your side and what everyone’s responsibilities are.

Step #3

Get clear on the details.

Now that you have an idea of the structure of the event–it’s time to consider the flow.

  • Will you have a guest book? What kind? Will guests sign as they enter the venue?
  • Will you have a large picture of your loved one? Perhaps by the entryway/guest book area? What photo will you use and where will you have it printed?
  • Will you create the service programs yourself? What will they include, where will you have them printed?
    • If you do create these yourself, Google “funeral service program templates” and there will be infinite inspiration and tools at your service.
  • Do you want florals? How many? Who will prepare them? Will you pick them up beforehand or will they be delivered?
  • Will you have a picture slide-show or any other video/electronic content during the service?
    • Who will put this together?
    • How will you display it? Is the venue already set up for this?
  • Will you have personal items on display at the service? Perhaps old photos, significant items, accomplishments, etc.?
    • Where will they be displayed? How will you make sure people see them?
  • Most importantly: How will you get the word out?
    • Have you or someone else issued the obituary in the paper/online?
    • Will you share the information on Facebook or other social media?
      • I personally drafted the obituary for the local newspaper to print, as well as, created a beautiful notice to post to social media and allowed the post to be shared by others to help get the word out.
      • For inspiration on how to write an obituary, again, Google is your absolute best friend. The point is to let the world know your loved one has passed, provide a few words to honor their life, mention who they are survived by, and let the world know how they can attend a service in their memory.
      • For a shareable electronic notice, use a creative platform such as Canva, save the image as a JPEG and share on your social media platforms, email, text, etc.

It can be overwhelming making all of these decisions. Give yourself time. I don’t really understand the rush to hurry and host a service after someone’s passing. I don’t believe there is any right or wrong way to do this. Honor your needs, and honor your loved one the way they would’ve wanted. I’d say shoot for within a month of their passing–it also doesn’t do anyone any good to push this off.

If you’re struggling to make these decisions, your best bet may be using a church or funeral home. You lose the ability to customize the memorial, but you gain the relief of having someone else plan and prepare the event–all you have to do is show up.

Step #4


Take a deep breath. You’ve got this. Feel the light of your loved one shine on you. They are with you every step of the way. The universe is guiding your steps. Supporting you through this time. You are enough just as you are. Know in your heart that everything is going to go exactly as it should.

All my love.

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Planning a Memorial Service



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