Memorials and Rituals

Every individual grieves in his or her own way. At Colma Cremation & Funeral Services, we have the experience and flexibility to provide alternative services. To help you make decisions that are most appropriate for your family and your loved one, we offer a variety of different funeral services, from the most traditional, to a service on the beach or an ecologically-friendly “green burial.”

Whatever you choose, we’ll be there to offer guidance and support.

Should I have a service?

Connecting with others is a vital part of the grieving process. When a loved one dies, people need to come together—formally or informally—to remember the departed and support one another. A ceremony gathers the family and community, providing a way to express and absorb the loss.

Today, a funeral can be what you want it to be. Let our experienced people will help you develop your ritual, providing information and support.

Remembering through ritual

Whatever service you plan, you’ll be creating a ritual. A ritual is ceremony, a collection of actions that have meaning for the participants, a chance to express feelings and say goodbye. It is a time of gathering and sharing stories. There are many ways to create a vital and meaningful ritual. Here are a few ideas:

  • Create a memory table with photos and items that recall your loved one.
  • Create a photo collage—it can be as simple as putting photos on a poster to display at the service. Or you can create a power point presentation, with photos, quotes, and music.
  • Letter writing can start the process of working through grief. Ask family and friends to write a letter to the deceased and bring it to the service. (The letters can be placed in the casket prior to burial or cremation.) Or, you can post a large sheet of paper at the entrance to the chapel, and provide markers so those attending can write personal messages to the loved one. (Again, this sheet can be rolled up and placed in the casket before burial or cremation.)
  • Flowers are a traditional expression of sympathy—ask family and friends to bring a flower to the service, then create a large bouquet from them. If you have selected cremation and are scattering the remains at sea, in a river, or lake, each person can toss their flowers into the water when the remains are dispersed.
  • If you choose a church or cemetery service, you can have a butterfly or balloon release. (If you have selected cremation, you can do the same things at a memorial service.)
  • Include things in the ceremony from the person’s life, things that you know gave them particular pleasure—perhaps a favorite poem in the printed program, or some of their favorite music during the service. Ask those who knew them well to prepare small eulogies that can be read out loud during the ceremony.
  • You can choose to have everyone light a candle symbolizing the enduring spirit as a flame in the darkness.
  • You may wish to gather at your loved one’s favorite restaurant or have a picnic at a favorite park. Many families find comfort by planting a tree in celebration of the loved one’s life.
  • You can design a tasteful shrine, wear a remembrance wrist band, or wear something that belonged to your person who died. Some people create memory quilts, or keep a journal of the grieving process. You can get stones inscribed with your loved one’s name and a message, and place them in your garden. Celebrate the person you loved with something as simple as lighting a candle—or as dramatic as climbing a mountain to write their name in the book at the top.
  • For a departed boater: some friends of ours attended a memorial for someone who loved to canoe. Friends and family gathered at the site of the favorite canoeing spot, where a small canoe (constructed out of cardboard) contained the cremated remains. People rowed out, following the paper canoe as it was set on fire and sent out on the water.