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Planning a Graveside Service to Say Your Goodbyes

Gabrielle Applebury
graveside funeral service

Planning a graveside service can be a beautiful way to honor your deceased loved one. A graveside service can follow a traditional funeral service or be the only event planned.

How Do I Plan a Graveside Service?

Planning a graveside service may feel overwhelming during this time. Use graveside service planning tips to help streamline this process.

Selecting the Casket or Urn

If your deceased loved one didn't leave instructions for a specific urn or casket, it's up to you to decide which options work best for your budget. Caskets and urns will vary in pricing, but in general:

  • Come up with a few options so you can compare pricing.
  • If possible, view the products in person to verify quality before purchasing.

Select the Venue

Choosing a burial site is a deeply personal decision. Your loved one may have pre-purchased a burial plot prior to passing away, so be sure to double check if one has already been purchased before selecting another one. When selecting a burial site or cemetery:

funeral procession graveside
  • Consider what it will be like visiting your loved one there.
  • Note if the location is maintained well.
  • Note if it has the appropriate level of privacy you're comfortable with.
  • Consider if you or other loved ones may want to be buried in the same location and if there are multiple plots within the same area available to purchase.

Choose an Officiant

In general, a funeral director, religious leader, or celebrant may lead the service. When making this decision:

  • Consider if your loved one was religious or not and who they would feel comfortable with in terms of officiating their service.
  • Compare pricing for a few officiants if you don't have one person in mind.
  • Make sure you feel comfortable with whoever you select to lead the service as this sets the tone for the graveside service.

Decide the Length of Service

The length of the service will depend on your particular needs, or the previous requests of your deceased loved one. The length of service is typically anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour when it takes place graveside.

Choose Speakers

When selecting speakers for the service, go with individuals who feel comfortable speaking in public and/or speaking under the circumstances. Even those who may be good public speakers may not feel comfortable with reciting a speech at this time. Speakers may include family members, close friends, as well as the officiant. Know that if no one feels comfortable speaking, you can always write a eulogy or a special tribute to your loved one and have the officiant recite it.

Discuss Details With Venue Staff

Once the details have been solidified, confirm that what you're wanting in terms of the graveside service will work for the venue you've selected. Be sure to get the contact person's information from the venue in case you change your mind about anything or need to adjust plans last minute.

Send Out Invitations

Invitations can be sent out formally or informally depending on what you feel comfortable with and how soon after the passing you're planning on having the funeral. Invitations can be sent out by mail, email, or text. You can also post the graveside service information on social media if you plan on having an open invitation service versus a private one.

What Does a Graveside Service Consist Of?

A graveside service can vary in terms of what is and isn't included in the service. An example of a graveside service timeline:

  • Welcome speech recited by the officiant
  • Prayer, blessing, poem, or passage recited
  • One or more eulogies may be given
  • Interment
  • A prayer, blessing, poem, or passage may be recited during interment
  • Loved ones may kneel by the grave to say their goodbyes
  • Depending on religion and/or culture, guests may be asked to shovel dirt into the grave
  • A repast or small gathering may take place afterwards

What Do You Say at a Graveside Service?

At a graveside service:

graveside funeral under a tent

What Do You Say at Interment?

During interment, you or the officiant may recite a prayer, blessing, poem, saying, or passage that feels meaningful for this particular moment. Others may also choose to have a moment of silence while interment is taking place.

How Long Is a Graveside Service?

The length of a graveside service will depend on what your wishes are, or what your deceased loved one requested in terms of the service if they had a preference. Typically, graveside services range from 20 minutes up to an hour.

How to Say Goodbye to a Loved One Who Died

How you choose to say goodbye to your loved one who passed away is a personal decision. Examples of options include:

  • Write a letter to them; this letter can be kept, placed in their casket, or destroyed if you don't wish to keep it
  • Attend all events connected to your loved one's passing- this may help you feel supported
  • Do something in honor of your loved one
  • Eat at their favorite restaurant or make their favorite meal while remembering the special memories you shared
  • Spend time in a place that was important to them

How to Plan a Graveside Burial Service

Planning a graveside service, whether it's a standalone service, or one that follows a traditional funeral service is a wonderful way to honor your loved one while allowing guests to pay their respects.

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Planning a Graveside Service to Say Your Goodbyes