After the loss of a loved one, it’s common for relatives to grapple with a kind of grief-induced fog that makes it challenging to focus on the myriad details involved in planning a funeral. This is where the expertise and creativity of a funeral professional can truly shine. By identifying the specific passions and unique traits of the departed, they can offer suggestions that facilitate a proper and heartfelt memorialization.
In this blog post, we take a look at personalized funeral services, highlighting ten unique farewells that were customized to reflect the individuals being celebrated. We understand the essence of a meaningful funeral ceremony goes beyond conforming to a specific type—whether it’s a traditional ceremony steeped in religious rituals or a grand celebration echoing a life well-lived, what truly matters is the healing and comfort it brings to those left behind. Our aim is to highlight some interesting examples of occasions when a funeral home helped a family to honor their loved one in a truly inspired way. Join us as we share stories of ten remarkable send-offs that beautifully capture the essence of a personalized funeral.
1. Christian’s Campfire Celebration of Life Service
In 2020, the Robbins Family turned to the Einan’s at Sunset Gardens Funeral Home in Richmond, WA after the devastating loss of their 16-year-old son Christian Robbins. Funeral directors, Holley Sowards and Ron Swanson worked closely with his family to transform their funeral home to create a campground-themed service in Christian’s memory. In a candid interview, Christian’s Father, Ted Robbins, described how his family’s collaboration with the funeral home team helped them achieve such a meaningful service for Christian amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and time constraints. From building a real campfire in the funeral home, to encouraging visitors to leave their handprint on Christian’s casket to allowing kids to make s’mores, Christian’s funeral was one of the most inspiring examples we have seen of funeral personalization. Watch the video below to hear Ted explain how the funeral home staff was instrumental in helping him and his family heal after such a difficult and traumatic loss.
“We’re not a firm that is’ going to say no. Every life has a story and to respect that life at the most critical time, for the family to be able to start healing through honoring his wishes, that was our first priority here,” explains Funeral Director, Ron Swanson. “It was really an experience for all of us that will be talked about forever. Christian even though he’s gone has made an impact on everybody here and is still making an impact, so we were honored to be a part of that.”
2. Jenga Blocks Signed in Memory
3. I Say I Say Is That A Cartoon Playing by the Casket?
While we don’t know what funeral home this photo was captured at, the story goes that a wife asked the funeral directors if they could play her husband’s favorite Foghorn Leghorn Loony Tunes cartoon during his funeral visitation. So, instead of a traditional slideshow, mourners were able to remember the gentleman by watching the shows that made him laugh. What a sweet way to capture someone’s spirit and celebrate their life, as well as bring mourners together during the service.
4. A Pet-friendly Funeral for a Beloved Dog Trainer
5. Honoring an Avid Reader
For a person who was an enthusiastic collector, there is something very stirring about making their cherished collection a part of a funeral ceremony. Over the years, we have seen some amazing examples of this including this one from our friends at Francis P. Devine Funeral Home. The funeral home was handling a service for a passionate book lover who had amassed a treasured collection of books. During the funeral, loved ones were invited to take one with them, emphasizing how books can hold a special place in one’s heart, representing a person’s life and interests. This personalized approach to commemorating a bibliophile’s life is a touching reminder of the way books can hold an irreplaceable place in one’s heart, and how they can serve as a meaningful representation of a person’s life and interests.
6. An Epic Final Ride
From flatbed trucks to horse drawn carriages, there are some incredible examples of caskets being transported with a unique “final ride.” Funeral homes that provide this service go out of their way to create a truly memorable and meaningful experience for loved ones. Here is one example we love shared with us by Eric M.D. Bell Funeral Home and Cremation Services. When the funeral home handled a service for a gentleman who was a fan of Oliver Tractor, the director suggested that his casket be placed on a wagon and pulled by his beloved tractor to the cemetery. This thoughtful suggestion resulted in a moving experience for the family and a fitting tribute for the gentleman who passed.
“We work hard to ensure every life is celebrated in a unique and special way,” Mr. Bell shared.
Here is another great example from the same funeral home: “Last month, we served a family of a dump truck driver. They were thrilled when we suggested we use his truck as his hearse. The family truly found it healing,” Eric shared.
7. A Paddle Out Ceremony for a Surfer
Originating in Hawaii, one of the most striking examples we have seen of funeral personalization has existed within the surfing community since the early 20th century. Friends and loved ones will paddle out to a calm stretch of ocean, creating a circle with their boards. There, they will join hands, share memories or perhaps scatter the person’s cremated remains into the surf. The floating memorial service is visually captivating, forming a vibrant mosaic in the ocean that is frequently photographed from afar, as it often has a profound impact on others. Even if you have never surfed a day in your life, it is impossible not to be moved by such an emotionally stirring image. The paddle out ceremony is also emotionally cathartic for the bereaved because it helps them to feel more supported while paying tribute to the departed in the place that he or she loved most of all.
8. A Car Collector’s Final Sendoff
9. Quilting Legacy Honored at Funeral Service
In 2017, beloved grandmother, Margaret Hubl passed away and her family wanted to pay tribute to her memory in a touching way. Margaret, an avid quilter, had spent years creating beautiful handmade quilts. In a heartfelt gesture to honor her memory, her family decided to display her quilts at her funeral service. As guests entered the venue, they were greeted by a stunning array of Margaret’s quilts adorning the space. The vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and meticulous stitching showcased Margaret’s love and talent for quilting. The display served not only as a visual celebration of Margaret’s life but also as a way for family and friends to connect with her through her artistry.
10. A Sweet Farewell
Which personalized funeral example on our list inspired you the most? What are some the unique and interesting ways your funeral home has helped families to personalize services? Please share with us in the comments below.