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Looking for suggestions for funeral of young adult

teriwttteriwtt Super Moderator Posts: 12,525 Super Moderator
edited February 2009 in Parent Cafe
I have been asked to do a memorial service for a young man (20) who was on our hospice services. While I have done memorial services before, never one for someone so young. Neither he, nor his family were religious, so I need to stay more with the spiritual realm vs. a traditional service. It will be held at the funeral home.

Has anyone here attended a funeral of a young adult, and heard or been moved by anything in particular that was said or done? I am meeting with the family tomorrow or Saturday, but the family (or patient) was never at a place where they felt comfortable talking about funeral plans. How about music? Any songs in particular that stand out as being comforting? I have some in mind, but will always appreciate having more resources.

Thanks, and sorry for bringing in such a depressing thread, but I figured where else could I ask a bunch of parents of college-aged kids what they might have experienced.
Post edited by teriwtt on

Replies to: Looking for suggestions for funeral of young adult

  • anxiousmomanxiousmom Registered User Posts: 5,729 Senior Member
    Steve Earle's "Pilgrim" is a beautiful song - and only moderately religious.
  • rodneyrodney Registered User Posts: 9,406 Senior Member
    teri: so sorry....this past fall, we attended a service for a young man....what was particularly poignant were his close friends who spoke about him......
  • teriwttteriwtt Super Moderator Posts: 12,525 Super Moderator
    yes rodney - I believe that is at the heart of a memorial. But there will be a wake the day before, and I don't know yet, if that's where the family will want him to be eulogized. If not, then that will be included as part of the service. I'm not sure how many of the college kids will be able to stick around on Monday for the service, though. Some of them might have to do the wake, then return to school Sunday night.
  • jmmomjmmom Registered User Posts: 9,084 Senior Member
    I have, sadly, attended a few funerals for young adults (16-19 years old) in recent times.

    At one, the young man's best friend of many years (a female) gave a eulogy/remembrance of their times together, as did a neighborhood parent and a coach known to the whole community.

    At another, the young man had died in a ski accident. His classmates, all from a ski academy, processed to the altar part way through the service, each with a personal memento of the boy - his ski helmet, articles of clothing everyone recognized as his, other items. These they gave to the boy's father, who received each with an embrace. ... Again, very moving.
  • nysmilenysmile Registered User Posts: 5,850 Senior Member
    Attended a wake for a 19 year old killed in Iraq---lots of pictures on display. The family and friends cut out pictures and made collages out of them. His favorite music played in the background (can find this out by checking his ipod). Things were put on display such as cub scout pictures and pine wood derby cars, some art work that he had done in elementary through high school, class pictures, pictures with friends, little league trophies, baseball glove, a favorite video game case, etc. In addition, his military memorial ( I don't know the official name of it) was there---his boots, gun, and helmet.

    They also had a computer set up that looped a powerpoint of pictures from all stages of his life.
  • teriwttteriwtt Super Moderator Posts: 12,525 Super Moderator
    jmmom - great ideas. I can suggest these to the parents. The kid ran cross country, so I know there are team mates.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 29,462 Senior Member
    When my brother died (older than this young man, but I think it could still apply), we had one of his high school classmates play the trumpet at the funeral. My brother had played trumpet in the high school band, and this other boy had gone on to be a music major and professional musician. So if he has any friends who are good instrumental musicians, that might be an option.
  • mackinawmackinaw Registered User Posts: 2,618 Senior Member
    As a college professor I was asked last fall to speak on the occasion of a memorial service of a young woman -- a student of mine. Other speakers included other professors as well as close friends of the woman.

    It was a very sad occasion all around but I know that the family in particular appreciated hearing some things that affirmed the life of their daughter from people who could put a perspective on her life away from home.

    I also gave the parents copies of several emails that I had with here as well as the papers she had written in my class. This allosed them to hear her conversations and thoughts and take something physical away with them.

    I don't know whether anything like this applies in this case, but I think it's important to personalize the eulogies.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    I have been to a few services for young people but not a lot lately.

    One that stands out, was for a boy who died at 16 from a debilitating illness that had confined him to a wheelchair and left him without speech or body control for his last days.
    As well as memory books available to write- someone had prepared a slide ( digital) show presentation on a large screen that was playing to some modern but appropriate music. The voiced comments were brief- and heartfelt- but the visuals of his better days with his friends and family were beautiful.
    ( the building also seemed to matter- this was at a more modern Lutheran or something church & was light filled and comforting- the services I have attended in darker more somber buildings-more traditional churches- were harder to take and felt confining- in particular the service for a girl who had killed herself at 15, I could hardly take without running out of there screaming)
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Registered User Posts: 15,648 Senior Member
    When my daughter's boyfriend died at 17 they had a large white board with a picture of him in the middle and permanent markers for people to write their messages to him or memories of him. it was very moving to read what people wrote, but very hard to write on it without crying.
  • coureurcoureur Registered User Posts: 11,386 Senior Member
    To an Athlete Dying Young
    by A. E. Housman (1859-1936)

    The time you won your town the race
    We chaired you through the market-place;
    Man and boy stood cheering by,
    And home we brought you shoulder-high.

    To-day, the road all runners come,
    Shoulder-high we bring you home,
    And set you at your threshold down,
    Townsman of a stiller town.

    Smart lad, to slip betimes away
    From fields were glory does not stay
    And early though the laurel grows
    It withers quicker than the rose.

    Eyes the shady night has shut
    Cannot see the record cut,
    And silence sounds no worse than cheers
    After earth has stopped the ears:

    Now you will not swell the rout
    Of lads that wore their honours out,
    Runners whom renown outran
    And the name died before the man.

    So set, before its echoes fade,
    The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
    And hold to the low lintel up
    The still-defended challenge-cup.

    And round that early-laurelled head
    Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
    And find unwithered on its curls
    The garland briefer than a girl's
  • starbrightstarbright Registered User Posts: 4,660 Senior Member
    At one such funeral we were given cards in little envelops. The sermon communicated, in part, our reason for being on earth and what we leave behind, and why we are here and how much we accomplish in our limited short times (Emerson's 'to have succeeded' poem comes to mind). We were asked to write on the card how this young man had changed us, what we learned from him. And put our cards in the envelop. And they were collected and later given this his family.
  • Singersmom07Singersmom07 Registered User Posts: 3,859 Senior Member
    At the funeral of one of the students killed at Virginia Tech, they had a white coffin and markers so everyone could write a farewell note on the coffin. It was during the wake but it seemed to touch my daughter and give her a way to express herself.

    The HS Choir and band have been tapped to perform at the ones we have been to.
  • AustinhillsAustinhills Registered User Posts: 242 Junior Member
    At the one funeral I went to fairly recently - it was a college athlete (swimmer) - his fellow swimmers and even a couple of the younger kids he had coached said something about him. After the ceremony and in another room where there were refreshments, there was a video montage of photos of him throughout his life with his family and friends.

    Two non-religious songs that come to mind for a young adult are Natalie Merchant's "Thank You - Kind and Generous" and Green Day's "Time of Your Life".

    Here's a youtube link to Natalie Merchant's song: YouTube - Natalie Merchant - Kind and Generous / Break your Heart and to Green Day's YouTube - Green Day - Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) but know that the non-live versions sound SO so much better.

    Here are links to the lyrics: Natalie Merchant - Thank You Lyrics and GREEN DAY LYRICS - Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)

    Good luck with this difficult and important task. I so admire hospice workers...
  • teriwttteriwtt Super Moderator Posts: 12,525 Super Moderator
    singersmom - that's a good idea to tap into the high school music department, especially since they have Monday off from school. I have a feeling I will be contacting teachers tomorrow to ask for their help. I also found one of his good friends set up a facebook for those who wish to mourn him, so I've already learned more about him than I knew. This will help as I craft a message.
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