15525 South 73rd Avenue, Orland Park, IL

Memorial Services

Colonial Chapel offers area families a spectrum of funeral ceremony options, ranging from traditional funerals, where the casketed body of the deceased is prominently present; to memorial services, where the cremation urn containing the deceased's ashes–if desired–is the visual focal point of the event. (Or, if the body of the deceased is not available due to misfortune, such as an airplane accident; a memorial service may be the preferred ceremonial format.)

What Other Differences Exist Between a Funeral and a Memorial Service?

A funeral has a relatively uniform structure, defined by the funeral director and participating surviving family member(s) during the arrangement conference. As in wedding ceremonies, this structure is called the order-of-service. Most commonly, the order-of-service for a traditional funeral would look like something like this:

  • Entrance Hymn (Prelude) Bringing comfort and greater peace-of-mind to attendees, the entrance hymn is often the time-honored Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, or Rock of Ages
  • Invocation or Introductory Prayer Recited by the celebrant or clergy person, the invocation is a prayer which signals the beginning of the service, acts as an invitation the assembly to join together in a sacred space, and reminds everyone to focus on the purpose of the gathering.
  • Reciting of Scriptural Verse With its comforting opening lines, "The Lord is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul", the 23rd Psalm is very often the verse of choice. Other options could be Ecclesiastes 3 ("For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven..."), or the prayer for those who mourn, taken from The Book of Common Prayer (original published over 464 years ago, in 1549): O God, who brought us to birth, and in whose arms we die, in our grief and shock, contain and comfort us...")
  • Eulogy (Often read by Celebrant or Clergy)This is the time when the actual life of the deceased, and not the care of their soul and the comforting of the bereaved, is the focus. For more information on writing such a tribute, visit our webpage, Writing a Eulogy.)
  • Singing of Hymns Music is one thread upon which the traditional funeral order-of-service components (prayer, eulogy, and sermon) are "strung". Commonly selected hymns include The Old Rugged Cross, Nearer My God, or All Things Bright and Beautiful (the refrain of which is known by many: "All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all."
  • Celebrant's Message or Pastoral Sermon Perhaps based on John 20:11 ("Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot"), or Deut. 29:29 ("The secret things belong unto the Lord, our God but those things which are revealed belong unto us"; the sermon can be the heart of the traditional funeral service.
  • Prayers or Benediction by Celebrant or Clergy This could be the prayer for those who mourn, taken from The Book of Common Prayer (original published over 464 years ago, in 1549): O God, who brought us to birth, and in whose arms we die, in our grief and shock, contain and comfort us..."), or the shorter closing prayer which begins, "Gracious God, surround us and all who mourn this day with your continuing compassion."
  • Closing Hymn(s) Again, hymns selected for the close of a traditional funeral service are intended to be spiritually uplifting. Two popular closing hymns are Abide with Me, and Francis Crosby's Blessed Assurance ("Perfect submission, perfect delight, Visions of rapture now burst on my sight; Angels, descending, bring from above, Echoes of mercy, whispers of love".)
  • Exit Hymn (Postlude) So many traditional funeral services close with Schubert's Ave Maria, or Martin Luther's A Mighty Fortress is Our God. This is the time guests file out of the chapel, and spend time in quiet conversation prior to leaving for the committal service at the cemetery.

As you see, a funeral ceremony is performed primarily by individuals of authority, such as member of the clergy or a funeral celebrant. This is not necessarily true for memorial services, which, in fact, offer significantly more opportunities for participation by anyone in attendance, including family members and friends.  A suggested order-of-service for such an event could be:

  • Entrance Music (Prelude) The musical selections for the opening to a memorial service, if held at a church, could be exactly the same as the ones chosen for a traditional faith-based funeral service. But when the event is held here at Colonial Chapel in one of our Visitation Chapels, the music is commonly made up of the deceased's favorite songs. Consider Frank Sinatra's classic, "I Did it My Way" ("I've lived a life that's full, I've traveled each and every highway; and more, much more than this, I did it my way"), the comical (yet instructive) Eric Idle tune "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", or the Beatles "In My Life".
  • Introduction and Opening Remarks Often delivered by a non-denominational officiant or celebrant, these remarks are intended to remind everyone of the unique life they have come together to celebrate. This time acts as an introduction to the presentation of the eulogy.
  • Eulogy (Read by a Family Member or Friend) Unlike a traditional funeral, where the focus is on the passage of the deceased's spirit into the heavenly realm; the focus of a memorial service is on the unique life lived by the deceased. In support of that purpose, the eulogy is at the heart of the memorial service.
  • Personal Tributes by Individual Speakers The flexibility of a memorial service allows for greater participation of guests and family members. This is a very special time in the order-of-service, where attendees are able to get better acquainted–to some degree–with those special character traits which made the deceased a valued member of the both the family and the community-at-large.
  • Tribute Video Here at Colonial Chapel, we make a tribute video for every family we serve as our gift to them. It can be easily incorporated in the background of a memorial service (or even become part of a more traditional funeral service–ask us to learn how it could be done).
  • Additional Scriptural, Literary or Musical Selections While the traditional funeral focuses on religious hymns and scriptural recitations; a memorial service could include recitations taken from classic or popular literature. It could even include readings of the deceased's personal journal, random written observations, and poetic or (musical) compositional efforts. This is a time to get to know the deceased on an even deeper level.
  • Final Remarks Here's where the "take-aways" are given; it's a time when observations are made, insights imparted, and lessons are taught. What would the deceased want those in attendance to know?
  • Exit Music (Postlude) This can be a musical extension of the final remarks, or simply a time when guests are given one last opportunity to hear the favorite tunes of the deceased.

The most remarkable feature of memorial services is their flexibility. Because the event doesn't revolve around the deceased's casket, a memorial service can be held weeks after the death has occurred. Certainly, this built-in flexibility is a response to the increasingly busy lives we lead; it can take months for all concerned to prepare a memorial service which everyone interested in attending can make requisite travel plans.

How You Can Learn More

Here at Colonial Chapel, we're committed to listening closely to what our families want; this is especially true when it comes to the ways in which they honor the memory of a loved one through ceremony. Certainly, listening is important; but what's more important is our response to what we hear: our ultimate goal is to present each family we attend with highly-individualized, truly personalized memorial services, funeral services and celebration-of-life events.

It's not important that you know how to plan a memorial service, simply because (once we've had a chance to discuss your intentions and desires) you can turn the memorial service planning responsibilities over to us. When you have need of our professional services; on behalf of a loved one or as part of your pre we invite you to discover the depth of this commitment by calling us at 708-532-5400.

 

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15525 South 73rd Avenue | Orland Park, IL 60462 | Phone: 708-532-5400 | Fax: 708-532-5593 | Email: info@colonialchapel.com