The Unitarian faith is a practical religion that believes in economy. Most members cremate their dead and they hold memorial services that are a celebration of life, scheduled at a date convenient for the family.
Their memorial services are personal with favorite music and readings. The families are very involved in their planning and they often share funny and poignant stories of the deceased. Attendees are invited to participate so if you knew the deceased and have a story to share, your contribution is welcome.
It’s appropriate to dress up for the service in neutral colors. For women this means a dress, skirt or pants outfit and coat and tie for men.
What are you expected to do? Upon arriving at the service, sign the guest book. You can make a donation as requested by the family either before or after the service.
The bereaved family usually provides flowers for the sanctuary so you are not expected to send flowers. There is often a reception held in the church social hall after the service. If you are a family member or close friend, you might offer to bring photos or something for the reception.
It’s up to the family on how they choose to handle the ashes. It might be a private affair or you might be invited while the family interns or scatters them in a memorial garden.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.