Designing a Graveside Service

During the COVID-19 pandemic the most common funeral option has been a graveside service with plans for a memorial church service or celebration of life at a later date. While some religions offer a short committal service, you may wish to add elements of your own to the ceremony. We hope these tips are helpful to you.

Simple is beautiful. Nothing needs to be extravagant and service time should be approximately 30-45 minutes.


Who will you be inviting, what do they have to offer- do they sing, write poetry, speak well in public? With only a few people in attendance, use the talents of the guests to design something unique and meaningful. 

What elements of your loved one’s life do you want to honor and celebrate at the graveside? 

Asking those attending to dress in your loved one’s favorite color, or sports team jerseys/hats.

Discussing with loved one which readings and songs they feel are meaningful to the life of your loved one- you might learn of something new and it is a great way to include people who can't be physically present

Asking the people attending to share (short) stories of how they knew your loved one at the graveside. Have them include how they will carry the memory of your loved one in their life moving forward. You can also ask people who can't attend to write a 1-2 minute story that can be read.

Prior to the service, asking people to write down a wish or memory that can be placed in the grave with the casket- these can come even from people who can physically be there and even read aloud before being placed.

Find a way to include people who cannot be there so that everyone feels as though they are able to honor your loved one and support you:

  • Live-stream or record the service.
  • Ask everyone to them wear a favorite color/sports team of your loved one’s.
  • Start the service with a moment of silence everyone can observe at that specific time.
  • Place flowers for people who would otherwise be there on the casket and state who each flower is from.
  • Bring a small object (like river stones) that can be present at the ceremony and the given to everyone who attended and distributed to those who can’t attend. If your loved one collected items (such as teaspoons or other knick-knacks) and you are comfortable sharing those, that would add a lovely personal touch.
  • Create a book of with what was read and said and share it

If you simply cannot limit the number of people who want to attend consider organizing a car parade. People can decorate their cars in honor of your loved one and drive past the gravesite before returning to their homes. If you choose this option please remind people that they must stay in their cars.


At a green burial the people present can participate in symbolically, or entirely, closing the grave. If this is the case please ask everyone to wear gloves- gardening gloves are ok- and be aware that the shovel handle will be disinfected between uses.

Guare & Sons, Barber & Lanier Funeral Home
Phone: (802) 223-2751
30 School Street, Montpelier, VT

© Guare & Sons, Barber & Lanier Funeral Home
Crafted with care by Frazer Consultants and TA