There is no question that in the last 25 years funerals have been the center point of my ministry. During that time I have ministered to about 4500 families. Each one of these families has not only been a chance for me to minister, but also an opportunity for me to grow and learn about life in a very “up close and personal” way.
Whenever I do a service I have two goals:
- Honor the life of the one who has passed.
- Do my best to help a grieving family through a most difficult time.
Life is rarely easy, and the loss of a loved one is about the most difficult thing we have to deal with. I have found that the perspective we carry with us into a time of loss has a great deal to do with how we survive the experience.
I was singing at a funeral many years ago and the minister said something that has shaped my entire funeral ministry. He said, “you didn’t come here because someone died, you came here because they lived” How absolutely true! When we focus on life, we have the best chance to move forward and heal from our loss. Grief involves pain and we can’t escape that-nor should we. However the source of our pain is our love- if we didn’t love the person, there would be no pain. Therefore, we need to make the service about love and life.
My services have three parts, the tribute, ministry and music. Here’s the breakdown:
- The eulogy ( the person’s life reflected in facts, experiences and relationships)
- Letters from family and friends.
- Speakers (individuals the family has asked to share)
- Open sharing ( memories and tributes from those attending the service).
- Video tribute ( pictures reflecting the person’s life and history).
Insights and devotional thoughts designed to encourage those who grieve and help them find closure.
Music has always been a big part of my ministry. I have tried to develop a repertoire that reflects the lives of those I honor. Here are some of my most requested titles:
- I’ll be seeing you
- The Dance
- Love Remains
- Unchained Melody
- Love Me Tender
- Amazing Grace
- In the Garden
- The Lord’s Prayer
- Ave Maria
- On Eagles Wings