Honor the Memory of a Loved One with a Home Memorial Service

This week’s article is written by guest writer, Teresa Greenhill, who has an interest in mental health. She is the co-creator of MentalHealthForSeniors.com,  which is dedicated to providing seniors with information on physical and mental fitness so that they can be active and happy in their later years.
Please leave comments for this article below, in the usual form.

Losing a loved one is difficult. Yet, amid the painful loss, you want to give your loved one the greatest honor. A memorial service at home can be a special and meaningful way to express love and respect for the deceased.

Although the terms funeral service and memorial service are often used interchangeably, they are not synonymous. Unlike in a memorial service, the body of the deceased is present during a funeral service.

Why a memorial service?

It can be emotional to let go until you feel that you have appropriately honored the deceased. A memorial service gives you an opportunity to celebrate the life lived by the deceased. It is an opportunity to come together with friends and family to share the memories of the beloved and say goodbye.

While you may feel that you are planning the memorial service for your loved one, it is an important event for you. Honoring the memory of a deceased loved one is a meaningful way of coping with loss. Planning the service is a creative way of channeling your sadness.

Below are some tips for making your beloved’s memorial service meaningful.

When planning a memorial service, let your memories and knowledge of the deceased guide you. If the deceased left behind a will, check to see if they had provided any instructions for the memorial service. It is easy to get caught up with doubts about whether you are putting together something good enough for the lost loved one. The thought of putting together the memorial service in itself is honorable.

Who to invite

A memorial service at home is an intimate event. Ideally, you want close family and friends in attendance. Depending on your family traditions or the loved one’s wishes, you may or may not invite a religious speaker.

Food and drinks

Whether to offer food and drinks depends on your personal preference, family traditions, and budget. You have the option to go all the way and offer a full buffet or keep it minimal by offering light refreshments. Depending on how big the service will be, you could consider hiring a caterer or ask attendees to bring some food.


Some good location options for an at home memorial service include the backyard, dining area, and living room. Look at the space available in your preferred location in relation to the number of guests you will be hosting.

Activities of the day

Laying flowers and reading eulogy are somewhat common traditions in memorials. You may set up a table on the memorial service with a floral wreath and a photo of the deceased. You could also incorporate an activity where attendees get a chance to lay a flower on the table.

Some people prefer to collect money and donate it to a cause that the deceased was passionate about. Others like a casual setting where they can talk about the cherished memories of the deceased. Consider having a guest book that guests can write about their memories of the beloved one. You may also light candles in memory of your loved one


You can hold a memorial service in place of a funeral service, especially if the deceased was cremated. Otherwise, you could hold it before or after a funeral service. Set a date and time for the service and send out memorial invitations in time to give invitees time to free up their schedules for the event.

Planning a memorial service for a loved one is not easy. Holding the service at home is less tasking. The familiarity of your home will offer you the much-needed comfort and warmth. Do not overstress about the details of how the memorial goes. The most important thing is that you create a conducive environment that lets you, your family and friends honor the memory of the deceased.

 Photo credits: Annie Spratt, Unsplash
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13 Responses to Honor the Memory of a Loved One with a Home Memorial Service

  1. Here we call them Celebration of Life ceremonies.

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      I think the two terms are interchangeable. I’ve been to both, and they have the same ‘feel’, yet quite different from funerals.

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      Yes. My family held a celebration of life to honor my mother, who died a few years ago at the age of 94. She lived a long and very active life until her late 80s, when she became ill with Alzheimers disease. The event did a lot to help us come to terms with her illness and death.

  2. Ann Oxrieder says:

    The tradition I belong to believes in frequent memorials for the same loved ones.

  3. our native people, the Maori have a similar type of memorial but it is held at the “unveiling of the headstone” usually one year later. Here is a short link about it…
    I noted when I was looking for reference to it on-line that other ethnic groups around the world have something similar.

    Many other people in NZ, have a home type ceremony – where a week long type of affair will allow all – family, friends, colleagues – to come and have some time with the deceased but also everyone else…(I believe this when someone is to be cremated)

    However, many non-christian funerals that maybe held at various commercial places also have a longer ceremony with many tears, many joyful moments, stories – often quite funny…

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      I enjoyed reading the article. Thanks, I’d not heard of the custom. I think an event held in the home is the most comforting, and many people here do that.

  4. Aunt Beulah says:

    Teresa Greenhill describes the type of memorial my husband and I both want. We experienced a home memorial for my father-in-law. His wife opened her home for an afternoon, sent invitations to family and friends living out of town and put a notice in the local paper of their small town that those who would like to drop by between two and five to share memories of Ned would be welcome. She had a wreath and a photograph and offered a serve yourself dessert bar, coffee and tea. It was lovely.

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      It does sound lovely, and would allow everyone who knew the deceased a time and place to think, remember, and grieve.

  5. Pamela says:

    I like this idea. My guy and I aren’t into a church service, but why not a celebration of life at home, or even a nice restaurant? The main thing is to give family and friends a chance to celebrate and remember the life lived. 💜

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      That is the main reason for any funeral, service or memorial. People need to have a sense of completion after a loved one dies. Thanks, Pamela.

  6. Dharam says:

    Hey Still,
    Great post with nice ideas to honour our loved ones!! By creating online memorials, we can preserve and respect the memories of our lost loved ones forever. Keep posting..
    Thank you 🙂

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