Memorial Services & Life Celebrations

Also, What to Do When Someone Dies or is About To Die


On this webpage, some important suggestions:

• Magic words to say (and not to say) - click

• End of Life Care - Center on Aging, UHM:

Advance Care Planning - Memorial Services - Preparing to     Say Goodbye - When Death Occurs - Help for the Bereaved:  Surviving and Adapting to Change

How doctors think about death, prolonging life, and how doctors differ from their patients, and why - click

  1. Death & Dying 1 (LorinBacon, RN)

  2. Death & Dying 2

• Signs Death is Approaching - click

• Saying Your Goodbyes

  1. Sooner than we think

  2. Saying Goodbyes (by the Rev. Sharon Inake)

What Caregivers Face - click

A Prayer For the Person Near Death (Inter-Faith)

Almighty God, by your gentle power and great love

Watch over this child of yours, our brother/sister (name).

Fill his/her eyes with light that he/she may see,

beyond human sight, a home within your love,

where pain is gone and physical frailty becomes glory.

Banish fear. Brush away tears.

Let death be gentle as nightfall, promising a new day

when sighs of grief turn to songs of joy,

and we are joined again in eternal life

in our heavenly reunion. Amen.

[adapted Book of Worship, United Church of Christ, page 361]

• When Death Occurs and What to Do

Consumer Reports Checklist

AARP Checklist

When a Parent Dies

Surviving the Loss of a Parent (article)

• When a Spouse Dies - click

Take Some Time off to Grieve

You may have the tendency to go back to work too soon and not give yourself the break you need to deal with all that needs dealing with: grief and unexpected onsets of thoughts and emotions, feeling lost and loss, legal matters, regaining some normalcy with family and friends. And the completion of the funeral service does NOT signal the time to go back to work. Give yourself a couple of weeks. It will be a while before some normalcy results, perhaps a year or so. If worried that maybe your grief seems to be worse or unending, seek out a grief support group, a counselor, a pastor-counselor. The reality is that grief, like love, never ends.

A Need for a Personal Assistant, Asking for Help

This is a very stressful and confusing time, and you are most likely to feel stressed and overwhelmed so it may be helpful to ask someone you trust to be your “Personal Assistant” (PA) to be with you most of the days up to, through the funeral service and after, for gifts, banking, bill paying, an honoraria for the minister and musicians and to write thank you cards.

The PA could be your spouse, an adult son or daughter, or in-law, your best friend, someone who is good with details and can and is willing to handle stress. The PA needs to read this webpage thoroughly.

The PA can take notes from you and for you, keep a record of callers and flowers, help answer the many phone calls, make appointments, remind you of things needed to be done, contact volunteers for the funeral service, pay hospital and mortuary bills, prepare honoraria, even drive you to appointments. Why drive you? You need a driver because so many things are running through your mind, you might be crying a lot, and you need someone to chauffeur you. This way you will keep yourself and other drivers and pedestrians safe.

When family and friends learn of the death, many will call or visit and offer to help in any way, e.g., cooking, housecleaning, driving, yard work, belongings and clothes to give away, etc. The PA (or you) can ask for ways offerers think they can help and they may have some very practical advice and abilities. You won’t feel like cooking or eating, so do accept the food people bring over for nourishment you will continue to need. House and yard help, child care, elder care, etc., will be much appreciated. This will free you to attend to your grief and the tasks needed - click. House-sitting your house on the day of the funeral will also be needed as burglars target homes of the grieving.

Also, if you know of a close friend/relative who had suffered a death, a phone conversation with them might help you discover how they handled or mishandled things.

You may choose the minister for the funeral service although at a church service, the church’s staff minister may be required to participate also along with the minister of your choice (not of staff of church). Church pastors may also give you wise counsel, faith assurances and help you in this very stressful time. I highly recommend the staff ministers at Central Union Church.

Most funeral homes may also be very helpful.

Prepare Yourself: Broken Heart Syndrome - click

The Difficult Work of Grief - a monumental study of grief by Dr. Erich Lindemann happened after the tragic Boston Cocoanut Grove  nightclub fire in 1942. This has application not only in known tragic circumstances such as the Aurora shootings and the Newtown slaughter of innocent children and the Fort Hood shootings and killings but also in our own private and perhaps much less dramatic losses. Important to read this short paper and share - click. Healing the Hurt - click

Dealing with Grief in the Holidays, Special Occasions - click

Helping Children through a Tragedy - click

Funerals, Memorial Services, Homegoings, Celebrations of Life and Love: the Different Venues today

  1. *At a Funeral Home or Church/Chapel - a more formal service with a eulogy (lit., “beautiful word”), a Scripture and a message from the minister, optional: a hymn, like Amazing Grace, etc.) if the deceased and family are church goers and a printed bulletin (scroll down to see sample); less seldom: a short slide presentation (5-7 minutes); and a Thank You at the end from a family member or good friend of the family before the pastor’s benediction. I prefer to keep the service to a half hour, no more than 45 minutes unless special circumstances.

  2. *At a Funeral Home or Church/Chapel Plus at Gravesite - a grave site service, or the committal service, usually follows shortly after the chapel service, and is more informal and short, often only 15 minutes or less. Because of scheduling and logistical challenges,  a grave site service may sometimes follow on another day.

  3. *At a Military Memorial Site - these services, i.e., National Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) and the Hawaii Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe, O`ahu, are usually only 15 minutes because of the scheduling of other services to follow.

  4. *At Gravesite only - Gravesite only services are becoming more  common today, especially for private services, and are less strenuous and emotionally taxing on the family. There is still a sense of dignity and farewell. Gravesite services are also “The Service of Last Words” and I usually invite short sharing, only a brief word or two, a sentence, that describes the deceased, e.g., “compassionate,” “patient,” “good provider,” “humorous,” etc.

  5. *At Beach/Parksite and Scattering of Ashes - this may be a very simple and uncomplicated service but needs some planning. A resource for scattering of ashes off of Waikiki is Ultimate Cremation Services - 528-3441

  6. *A New Kind of Funeral: in a Restaurant - click

• If Possible, Meet Together with Your Minister

If you do not have a pastor, call me at 808-373-4593 or 224-8810 for recommendations or for my participation as your pastor and officiant/celebrant to arrange a meeting several days or a week prior to the service.

    This informal meeting is a time to plan the memorial service, a time for the minister to get to know your loved one through your eyes and hearts so that s/he can speak of him/her, and to help you deal with your pain and loss. What do I want to know about your loved one? Read. Please bring the information on the left to the meeting or provide over the phone or by email (best).

    When death comes by a tragic situation such suicide or homicide or accident or drug overdose or heart attack, etc., or when you feel that there is too much or too little positive to say about the one who has died, it is especially important that you meet with the minister to talk out your thoughts and feelings. This can help to start a healing process for you.

Unresolved grief and unresolved relationship issues can often cause health problems and relationship issues with others.

Who May Attend this Meeting

The closest survivors, those who mourn the deceased the most,  and eulogists and other participants in the service are invited to attend this meeting. It is not always possible for all to attend as people may be coming from the mainland, other islands or nations, are ill or handicapped, etc. It is also helpful for the minister to know who is not attending and why (possible family rifts, etc.) so as not to say anything that is untrue in the funeral service.

Questions I or Your Minister Will Most Likely Ask About Your Loved One

What were his/her: favorite activities? favorite sayings? great delights? beliefs and convictions? struggles and victories? hopes and dreams? mannerisms and loving activities that will be sorely missed, any religion, faith, no religion? if there are grandkids, what will they miss? best contributions and legacy?  (You can also as individuals or as a family write a Letter of Remembrance and Goodbye that can be shared/read at the memorial service, or to do it just for your own healing.)

Email me anytime with thoughts, memories that are important to you -

Important even if the deceased was not a Christian: I believe each of us was made in the image of God, in His likeness. If the chief characteristic of God is love, then how was love exhibited? Read: 8 Languages of Love. This is most important to speak of in eulogies, my message as well.

    Also: What’s Built In our DNA

My home meeting room in Aina Haina can hold up to 6-8 people comfortably. Address and directions to East Honolulu (H-1): 5290 Kalanianaole Highway, Hon 96821, corner of Nenue St., first left after McDonald’s, entrance is from Nenue Street. Click Map. It’s the 2-story house with the pink and white bougainvillea on the fence and many mango trees. Park on the lawn if space, not in the driveway. Nenue Street usually has sufficient parking. Come through the carport but do not ring doorbell (rings upstairs only) -- knock or just call me 224-8810 or 373-4593 when all have arrived and are in the carport.

How You Can Help the Minister Plan the Memorial Service Before Our Meeting

        In your own family gatherings, begin sharing with each other as to what things stand out about this special person in your life, and what will be missed the most. I or your pastor will be asking you to share with those special thoughts and memories which help me to build my short message (about 5-10 minutes) in the memorial service. What helps you remember is to go over old photo albums, family movies and videos, etc.

You can also select one or several including grandchildren to give short Eulogies (lit.,“Beautiful Words”), usually no more than 4-6 minutes in length, to share special memories about your loved one’s kindness and generosity. The time factor is very important and speakers need to keep to the time limit.

How to Do Eulogies

• How To Write and Do Eulogies - click

• Eulogy Outline - click

• Tips - click

• A most profound and unusual eulogy - click

A well-done video may also be in place of or in addition to Eulogist(s). Let me know if a video is being made for the service for necessary cautions and important tips (e.g., use black background, crop photos to see faces clearly, group photos not recommended except to give a general impression, etc.) and in order to make the transitions between slides smooth, use the Dissolve 2 seconds. At my meeting with you I can show you a sample of a multimedia funeral service.


Thank You at Conclusion - Besides Eulogist(s), it is also traditional to select a family member or close friend of the family to give a Thank You at the close of the service and to invite the people attending to share in a meal or refreshments together (if any) after the service or burial.

If no printed program

     During the service, the minister serves as the worship leader and MC and will call upon the Eulogist(s), soloists (if any), and the person giving the Thank You to come forward at the appropriate times.  Speakers should be seated close to the front and podium if possible.


If there is a printed order of service, it is not necessary for me to call on the speakers and they should simply come forward at the appropriate places in the printed program.

    Inform these speakers to (1) sit in the forward seats or pews closest to the podium/lectern, and (2) to speak directly into the microphone (mouth one to two inches from microphone and to move slightly away if the “p’s pop”), and (3) keep to the time limit we agreed on, usually 4 minutes. A typed page will take about 4 minutes to deliver. Practice and time your eulogy at least 5 times in front of a mirror.

   Do you desire special music, a hymn, a soloist, favorite Scripture, quotation, etc.? Do you wish the service to be formal or informal? (Beach services are informal) If it is to be a formal service with hymns with words to the hymn printed, etc., then it may be necessary to have a printed bulletin available for those attending. (Scroll down to see a sample. Purpose was to see her through the years and the people in her life.)

    The desired length of service is usually about 30 minutes in length, no more than 45 minutes. The burial or committal service afterwards is usually about ten to fifteen minutes in length.

Special blessings, prayers and counseling may be requested in unexpected tragic circumstances or when grief seems unending and/or you have lost your own will to live. Some grief may take as long as a year or two to achieve some sort of normalcy and healing.

How to Talk to Kids (various stages) about Death

Helpful Articles that I have written and from the Web (click) -

Cremation Concern

How Did Your Loved One Love? (Languages of Love)

Writing a Letter of Goodbye

What You Will Miss and Have to Adjust to

How To Survive the Loss of a Love

Getting Closures

Understanding Asian Stoicism

If It’s Tuesday (Tuesdays with Morrie)

God’s Welcome of your Loved One


Depression by Gregory M. Knopf, M.D.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Grief

Grief and other emotions/TCM

Unresolved Grief

Japanese funeral customs

Ask the minister -,

808-224-8810 call me or text if you need an answer right away!

© Ronald F.K. Ching


Best to forward this webpage to other family members and service participants and your pastor this webpage (copy and paste)

Bookmark for handy reference.

What must we think about when we think about the loved one who died? Important to read in preparation for our meeting.

An Unusual Funeral: in a Restaurant - click

IMPORTANT: on the day and time of the service, have a trusted neighbor or friend stay inside your home as often burglars target homes of immediate family members from obituary notices.

PROVIDE OVER THE PHONE 808-373-4593 OR BY EMAIL (Preferred)


Full name of deceased:


Nickname(s) _____________

Age: _____

Date of birth:___________

Date of death:__________

Cause(s) of death:





Mortuary Staff:


Date/Day/Time/Place of Pre-Cremation Service (if any)



Date/Day/Time/Place of Memorial Service:


Date/Day/Time/Place of Burial or Inurnment:


Names of closest survivors (and relationship):






Thank You at end


Legal and miscellaneous matters:

Best to order at least 10-15 official death certificates from Hawaii Department of Health

If married, locate your Certificate of Marriage in case required by government agencies or banks.

If there is to be a cremation it may be important to request or provide a sheet to cover the body - Cremation Concern

I do not require a fee for my ministerial services for funerals. Honoraria received go to help others in need. A minimum honorarium often suggested by funeral homes to give ministers as an appreciation is commonly from$100-$250  (size of service, number of services/days, distance and time requirements, personal budgets, grief counseling) or more depending on special circumstances, etc. Again, I do not require a fee for my ministerial services for funerals.

Some helpful guidelines - click.


Usual service order if providing a service bulletin:

Minister will lead the service as this is a worship experience; no Master of Ceremonies necessary. Scroll down to see a sample bulletin (my mother’s service).

Recommended order for printed bulletins

Scriptural Sentences*

Welcome and Invocation

Readings - Psalm 23 et al

Hymn/solo (optional)

Memories (Eulogies and/or video tribute)

Minister’s Message*


Thank you from family


Refreshments to follow, etc.

Burial or inurnment - private or public, place, date and time

* Note: once my title and name has been listed in the program, viz. after Scriptural Sentences, do not list again as it would be redundant.

Please email me a copy of your bulletin before printing for any suggestions or corrections.


Other information:

Suggestions: Always keep a notebook handy for notes about appointments, things to do, etc. When there is grief, it is common to become forgetful or to overlook important matters, feel overwhelmed; therefore make lists for yourself, e.g., appointments, people who call or who need to be contacted, etc. Print this page.

    Have a good friend or relative assist you during this time. See next column re Personal Assistant.

How God heals us:

1 - Talking it out with others

2 - Tears: it’s OK to cry

3 - Writing a personal letter of goodbye

4 - Counseling


How to save on funeral costs:

Click: SmartMoney


Contact me:

Landline: 808-373-4593 (best)

Cell:  224-8810 in emergencies         except after 8 p.m.


Text: 224-8810

Print, bookmark and pass this page on to others in your family or who are participants in the service. Or, give me the email addresses of participants so that I can email this page to them.

Bring to our Preservice Meeting at my home

  1. 1.Photos of your beloved

  2. 2.Drafts of eulogies, memories and names of speakers

  3. 3.Questions, notes

  4. 4.Draft of possible printed bulletin or a memento if planning to use

Directions to my Home Meeting Room from downtown:

Travel eastward on H-1 towards Aina Haina on Kalaniana`ole Highway. My 2-story house is 1.8 miles from the beginning of Kalaniana`ole Highway after Kahala Mall.

When you see McDonald's on your left, prepare to turn left at the next traffic light which turns you into Nenue Street which is the only entrance to my corner home; there is no entrance from Kalaniana`ole Highway.

My house is that 2-story corner house with the many mango trees and pink bougainvillea on the corner fence.

Park on Nenue Street several doors down, walk back to the house and enter through the carport. You can also park on the front yard if there is space. Do not park in the driveway. Mahalo.

  Knock on door or call me to let me know you've arrived, 373-4593. Do not ring doorbell.

On the Day of the Service:

I arrive usually 30 minutes prior to the service and will check with you for any last-minute changes, briefly meet with the speakers, etc.

    As I no longer drive, I usually depend on taxi service, so any help in providing transportation for me to and/or from the service is appreciated. Aina Haina is in East Honolulu (see Directions above).




To help those who grieve...

Diamond Head Memorial Park

Sample Bulletin

(note the preferred use of photos in a bulletin or memento handout rather than only on a poster board which only a few do view.)

© Ronald F. K. Ching. All rights reserved.

Mililani Memorial Park