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Arranging a Funeral Arranging a funeral The service

A funeral service should be a reflection of a person’s life, their beliefs and traditions.

A service should give you the time to mourn the loss of a loved one as well as the beginning of the healing process.

A service should celebrate the life of a person and reflect everything that they meant to you.

Unity Funerals are able to offer a wide range of options for every service we arrange. We encourage you to discuss these options with our staff, so that we can make the service truly reflect a person’s life.

Length of a service

A service should be arranged with enough time to avoid feeling rushed. The service will be booked and coordinated to a certain time frame. Discuss the length of the service with the clergy or celebrant and estimate the amount of time required for the service. It is also important to discuss the time allocated for anyone who is going to speak at the service. If more time is required, we can make extra bookings.

We can provide a spreadsheet that you can fill in with an estimate of times for each part of the service, this will give you an idea of the overall length of the service. The crematoriums and cemeteries allocate set times for the use of the chapel and the time of burial, etc, and some will charge a late fee if the service goes over time or runs late.


Music can be an important part of a funeral service. Many people have a favourite piece or style of music which can be included in the service. We are able to source a vast range of music and can arrange for this to be played at the service, crematorium or graveside. We can organise a range of live musicians or singers for a service, which can add something special. Some suggestions include an organist, bagpipes, bugler, soloist, quartet or jazz band.

It can be a beautiful tribute if any family member can play a musical instrument or sing at the service. Some churches may limit the type of music that can be played, but at the crematorium chapel or graveside we have more options available. It is important that the clergy or celebrant, and the funeral staff know when the music is to be played.


A eulogy is a way of sharing memories of the person during the service. Some people have found it helpful if a few family members get together to help write the eulogy. You can mention at the beginning of the eulogy who helped write the eulogy. If there is more than one eulogy, discuss with the other people what they will be covering. You may each want to cover different parts of the person’s life e.g. childhood, career, family life, sport, etc. If someone feels they are unable to speak at the service, the eulogy can be read by someone else or the celebrant, explaining at the beginning who the eulogy is from.

Special Items

It can be a lovely gesture to place things on the coffin that were special to the person such as football jersey, hat, embroidery, golf clubs, medals, etc. They can be placed on the coffin before the service or they can be placed by family members as part of the service. Talk to the clergy or celebrant to organise when this would happen. These items can either be left on the coffin to be buried or cremated, or they can be returned to you, please let our staff know which you would prefer. There is often a table at the front of the chapel where items can be displayed, instead of on the coffin. Please check with the arranger to ensure that one is available or else we can provide one. National flags can also be draped over a coffin, either a full drape (covering the whole coffin) or a half drape. Flags are always removed before a burial or cremation.


Some people like to place a photo on the coffin. The photo could be recent and / or a photo from an earlier time. They should be large enough for people to see (if that is your intention). The photo can be cropped or enlarged and placed in a frame with a stand. We can also place a large framed photo on a stand next to the coffin. A number of photos covering the life of the person can be attached to a board and displayed at the chapel or church. This can be taken back to be displayed at the wake. Please let us know if you need a stand to display any photos.

Photo Presentation

Showing a slideshow of photos set to music can be a moving and personal tribute. Most crematorium chapels and some churches have the facilities for a photo presentation on computer or DVD. The photo presentation can be played at a time during the service. It can also be played at a function after the service so family and friends can share their memories. It also makes a lovely keepsake for family members. We can arrange for the production of a professional photo presentation of 20–40 photos and 1 or 2 songs. It is strongly recommend that the presentation is tested at the church or chapel the day before the service on the equipment that is going to be used on the day of the service.

Memorial Book

We include a Memorial Book at the service at no extra cost. Our staff set up a table at the service and people who attend are invited to record their name. The Memorial Book is personalised and include the details of a person’s life, when and where the service was held and any newspaper notices. It is keepsake for the family and a record of those who attended the service. It can be helpful if you want to send thank-you cards.

Recording the Service

Sometimes family members or close friends are unable to attend a service but may like to see and / or hear the service. We can arrange for the service to be recorded. In some chapels we can also arrange for the service to be webcasted; where the service is broadcast live over the web for people to view anywhere in the world. This can be a public or private webcast. It is important that we have as much time as possible to make these arrangements.


Some people may prefer donations to particular charity in lieu of (instead of) flowers, this can be mentioned in the funeral notice. We can arrange memorial envelopes to be handed out as people sign the book at the beginning of the service. We can have a donation box there on the day of the funeral for people to place the envelopes. People often don’t give donations on the day of the service, but, by handing out an envelope, people are more likely to make a donation at a later time.

Crematorium Curtains

At the crematorium there is usually a light and a heavy curtain which are closed at the end of the service. They can be closed one after the other or both at the same time. They are controlled by the clergy or celebrant and you should discuss with them how you would like the service to end. A question that is often asked is will the coffin move off at the crematorium. This used to happen but now it has been replaced with the curtains controlled by the clergy or celebrant. The coffin is then moved after everyone has left the chapel.

Involving Children in the Service

It is a good idea to allow children to attend the funeral; it can help them with their own grieving and understanding of what has happened. Talk to children beforehand about what to expect. For example, while people may be very sad and crying, there may also be times when people tell funny stories and laugh. Explain that a funeral is an opportunity to remember the good and wonderful things about the person who has died, as well as a time to say goodbye. You can ask older children if they have any questions or if there is anything they would like to include in the funeral service. Offer them the choice to be a part of the service – ask them if there is anything they would like to do at the service? Would they like to read something at the service? Make sure someone they know well can be with them at all times during the service to support and reassure them. Young children may even need to have a break during the service.