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Funerals Should be Medicine for the Caregiver

By Daniel Mandel

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If the deceased was not religious, a member of the clergy may not be the best choice for an officiator.  There are many professional speakers capable of composing services that could be more meaningful.  Sometimes a group of family members and friends may best express how to remember someone.  When using multiple speakers, it is wise to select a master of ceremonies to weave together all of the elements presented.  Also, with groups of speakers, impress on each one the need for brevity.  Otherwise, the service can become repetitious and laborious.

The incorporation of music is another way to reflect the deceased. Whether using live musicians or compact discs, music can remind us vividly of the person we’ve lost. Choose a style of music, favorite songs or favorite singer. Any of these can touch us deeply.  Keep in mind that the selections do not need to be mournful dirges. 

Food often reminds us of people we have known. Something as simple as passing out ice cream bars at the service of someone who was known for her ice cream socials can awaken a sweet memory.  Caterers can make serving food easier and expand the range of options available. Remember that even the smell of certain foods can remind us of people.

Displaying photographs is another way we can remember the deceased. Whether mounted on boards, shown in a video montage or displayed around the room in frames, photos provide the opportunity to show people as they would want to be remembered. Always try to select a range of photographs sharing the full life he/she had.

Weaving the elements described here can create a meaningful service that can be a source of great comfort and resolution for those who are left behind. Many of the ideas suggested here add little or no cost to the service and will result in a precious memory.


Daniel Mandel is the founder of Mandel Funeral Services of Northern California. They specialize in planning personalized funeral services. To ease the planning process, they go to the family’s home for the funeral arrangements. They have special settings for funerals available throughout Northern California. Daniel Mandel worked in Chicago for 25 years before coming to California in July of 2006.  He can be reached at (866) 962-6335 or


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