Planning your own memorial service is one of those advance death directives—like having a will or naming a power-of-attorney for your health and financial affairs—that makes good sense.
Your memorial service—a valuable worship experience for all who survive you—may turn out to be the last and highest witness of your spiritual core. Those in attendance will come ready for more than a usual time of reflection or ritual. They will be primed to receive and share emotions and memories with each other. Your service may even strengthen their resolve for a life of purpose and meaning.
If you don’t make your wishes or plans known, someone else will do that for you: grieving loved ones, a priest/pastor/rabbi/imam or a funeral home staff member. Without your earlier-in-life input in writing or in person, your survivors and all who remember you may participate in a boiler-plate, run-of-the-mill experience. An ordinary end to your otherwise extraordinary life. Deep emotions may remain unspoken, mired in uninspiring worship.
Without your input now, the tasks of arranging such a service will fall to grieving others—not exactly what they need at this time. The service leaders—add in musicians, ushers and others here—will have to cobble together quickly what they hope will be meaningful thoughts and rituals. Your memorial service will require lots of work from others.
On the positive side, when you plan your service and communicate your desires with others, you will offer them a gift—time, effort and energy that they can channel to other useful tasks made necessary by your death.
Thinking about your memorial service now is cut from the same cloth as saving for retirement or having a safety deposit box. You love the people who will survive you.
Your memorial service will prove it!