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Planning a Graveside Service

When a loved one passes, many families choose to hold a graveside service in addition to a funeral so they can pay their respects and accompany their loved one as they are laid to rest.

This time can be emotional and stressful for the bereaved, making it difficult to plan; however, planning a graveside service can be eased with some assistance and a helpful guide.

Table of Contents

  1. What is a graveside service?
  2. Plan a graveside service
  3. Pick the cemetery and casket
  4. Work with cemetery staff
  5. Select someone to lead the service
  6. Graveside service ideas
  7. More advice for graveside services

What is a graveside service?

Traditionally held after a church service, a smaller congregation follows their loved one either by car or in a walking procession to the cemetery where the service will be held.

Many families, however, choose not to hold a church or formal religious service beforehand and instead decide to hold the funeral at the gravesite.

Like many common funerary practices, graveside services are often led by a religious official; however, specifics will vary depending on the denomination and religious affiliation.

Plan a graveside service

Graveside services are, essentially, a simplistic funeral service. Eulogies can be read but are usually limited to just one. The congregation tends to be smaller, as well, since many cemeteries cannot accommodate large crowds.

Graveside services also tend to be shorter than funeral services. Beyond the Dash notes that they usually consist of a 30-minute speech by a loved one or religious official, followed by prayers and other traditions, such as dropping dirt onto the coffin in the Jewish faith or leaving a flower on the coffin before it’s lowered.

Pick the cemetery and casket

The first step in planning a graveside service is choosing a cemetery. Sometimes the cemetery and plot are already selected by the deceased prior to their passing, but often the family must make this decision.

Aside from pricing and religious denomination, there is a lot to consider when choosing a cemetery. Everloved recommends considering the cemetery’s upkeep, general maintenance policies and other requirements.

Take note of the ease of your interactions with the staff and director, Everloved urges. Difficult interactions now will not likely get better as time goes on.

With the plot in mind, consider the casket. A major expense in funerary planning, selecting a casket will largely depend on what you can afford. It’s important to research beforehand to have an idea of what you are looking for before selecting a casket.

Work with cemetery staff

Many cemeteries have specific guidelines for services, particularly historic cemeteries, and it’s important to know them beforehand.

Before making arrangements, set up a time to talk to the cemetery director or burial staff to discuss regulations such as weather accommodations, seating – who will provide it, how many are allowed – and how long it will take to prepare the site before the service.

Select someone to lead the service

While religious officials often lead graveside services, it’s not a requirement. For a religious ceremony, contact a local religious organization for availability and additional assistance. Typically, the religious official will plan the itinerary for the service.

If a religious ceremony would not be appropriate, anyone is welcome to lead the service. Select a family member or friend comfortable with speaking before the congregation to run the service. Cemetery staff may also be available to lead.

Graveside service ideas

Don’t forget to notify your religious official or service leader of any specific graveside service ideas, such as traditions, prayers or eulogies that should be included. Other ideas may include reading a poem or playing Taps if the deceased served in the military.

Remember, every graveside service will be unique and should reflect the loved one and their families. They are a personal opportunity to say goodbye.

More advice for graveside services

Titan Casket is dedicated to providing you with all the answers you need when it comes to planning a graveside service and navigating your grief. We can also help you when it comes to buying a casket for your service.

We are your trusted ally in planning the funeral you want at an affordable, fair price. Contact us via our chat window or here on our contact page to get started.