More families than ever throughout El Cerrito, Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond are coming to Sunset View Cemetery & Mortuary wanting a unique or informal funeral  for their loved one instead of the traditional, solemn service that used to be the norm. Families want to have a memorable event that reflects their loved one’s personality and what was important to them. In some cases, the person who died planned their own funeral arrangements ahead of time and put these details in writing. But if the funeral plans are left up to the family, our staff understands how important it is to do justice to the person who meant so much to them.

One element that makes a funeral extra special is holding a reception afterward, where family and friends can gather to share food, stories, and memories. We have helped plan countless receptions over the years and want to offer a few tips for how to make that time together unforgettable.

  1. Let’s start with the food. Enjoying appetizers and drinks or a full meal is exactly what many people need after attending a funeral – and our staff takes care of all the details so you don’t have to. We can serve everything from coffee and baked goods to a barbecue dinner. Was your grandmother known for her apple pie? Or maybe your uncle’s roast chicken was the center of every holiday meal. Think of how special it would be to serve your loved one’s favorite food to their favorite people. Creating a menu is a way to let the personality and preferences shine while bringing an appreciative smile to everyone in the room.
  2. Danish author Hans Christian Anderson once said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” Imagine getting together at the reception to enjoy a meal while listening to your loved one’s favorite band, composer, or musician. Incorporating pre-selected music into the reception is an easy way to add a personal touch. You could even take it a step further by featuring live music.
  3. Honor the person who died by sharing stories about them. This is a beautiful way to pay tribute to their life and look back on time spent together. If you feel more comfortable sharing stories without opening up the opportunity to the group, you could request that guests put their memories in writing for you to read aloud.
  4. Set out favorite photos or items that were important to your loved one. While many families create photo boards or video tributes, there are those who make it clear they don’t want their photo on display after they die. In this case, we can help you create centerpieces using a loved one’s beloved book collection, favorite flowers, or treasured memorabilia. Anything that adds a personal touch and serves as a visual reminder of why that person meant so much.

If these ideas got you thinking about your own end-of-life plans, or if you need help putting together a meaningful funeral for a loved one, reach out to us anytime. We’re here to help with even the smallest details, making sure the final farewell will be remembered for years to come.