[FREE] Virtual Funeral Program Samples and Outlines

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You’ll encounter a lot of logistics when planning a funeral. Even though it is certainly important to individualize the funeral process as much as possible, you can also look online for free funeral program templates to get started planning your event.

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Of course, you can also rely on the funeral director or minister to help you with your planning. This person will have had plenty of experience with funeral programs and sample outlines on how to organize the event. If you're using a platform like GatheringUs, their specialists may be able to support you as well. You should also check your loved one’s personal effects to see if they left funeral plans behind. These resources will make your job much easier. 

Here are three virtual sample programs for three different types of services, including a virtual funeral program sample. The fact that some of the events will be available to online viewers may require the use of technology, but the funeral format may not have to change much.

Sample Program for an Online-Only Virtual Funeral

The guests at your loved one’s virtual funeral may have never attended one. Because virtual funerals are relatively uncommon, you must let your guests know what they can expect from the online service. You may want to provide a program days before the event to those expected to log in and participate. This may be especially important if you are allowing your online guests to speak. 

Like an in-person funeral, your online funeral program will include the order of service, the list of participants, and the deceased’s obituary. It may also include a poem that may or may not be used as a part of the service. 

Funeral Service for Franklin “Buddy” Smith
December 22, 2020
2 p.m.
[Online Link]

(Include a photo of your deceased loved one.)

Franklin Stuart Smith
March 15, 1935 – December 17, 2020

Order of Service
Celebrant: Pastor Michael Alex
Welcome and Introduction: Pastor Alex
Music: “Amazing Grace” 
Reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
Hymn: “Abide With Me”
Eulogy: Patricia Smith, Daughter of Buddy
Solo: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Pauline Smith, Daughter of Buddy
Prayer: Pastor Alex
Opportunity for Online Guests to Share a Treasured Memory
Ending Song: “I’ll Fly Away”

Obituary

Since this program will not necessarily be printed, you have no space restrictions. Consider including the full text of the obituary.

At the bottom of the online funeral program, you may want to express your appreciation that the guests took the time to attend the virtual event. You could also use this platform to thank people for their support during your loved one’s illness.

ยป MORE: How do you handle your loved one's final affairs? Get your free post-loss checklist.

 

Sample Outline for Online Funeral

Opening remarks: [Officiant] The officiant may welcome people to the online event and remind online guests to keep their settings on mute until it is time for singing or sharing. 

Song: [Music Leader] Provide the words for the hymn or song using presentation software.

Reading: [Family Member or Officiant]

Song: [Music Leader]

Eulogy: [Family Member or Officiant] Share specific stories about what made the deceased special. 

Solo: [Music Leader]

Prayer: [Officiant]

Opportunity for Sharing: [Officiant] The officiant can ask people to share brief memories of the deceased. 

Hymn: [Music Leader]

Sample Program for a Hybrid (Online and In-Person) Funeral

Some modern funerals are attended by in-person and online guests. You may need to complete two different programs for this situation. Here is a sample program for the in-person guests. Use the previous example for your online mourners.

Funeral Service for Samantha Louise Jones
February 23, 2019
2 p.m.

(Include a photo of your deceased loved one.)

Samantha Louise Jones
March 23, 1948 – February 20, 2019

Service:
St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church
1422 8th Street
Detroit, MI 22833

Order of Service
Welcome and Introduction: Pastor Peter Cloud
Music: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” 
Reading: Psalm 23
Hymn: “In the Garden”
Eulogy: Pastor Cloud
Solo: “Amazing Grace” 
Prayer: Pastor Cloud
Ending Song: “On Eagle’s Wings”

Obituary
You may have space limitations in the printed program that would keep you from including the entire obituary of your loved one. Include the essential information and publish the complete version online. 

In Appreciation
We would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation for all those who took the time to attend Samantha’s funeral, either in-person or virtually. Samantha was blessed to have many friends who offered so much help and support to her during her lengthy illness. 

Sample Outline for In-Person and Online Funeral

This outline is very similar to the online funeral outline listed above. You may choose to omit the section where mourners can share stories of the deceased unless you have someone present who can set up the technology to make that happen. 

Opening remarks: [Officiant] The officiant may welcome people to the online event and remind online guests to keep their settings on mute until it is time for singing.

Song: [Music Leader] Provide the words for the hymn or song using presentation software for online participants.

Reading: [Family Member or Officiant]

Song: [Music Leader]

Eulogy: [Family Member or Officiant] Share specific stories about what made the deceased special.

Solo: [Music Leader]

Prayer: [Officiant]

Hymn: [Music Leader]

Sample Program for an Online Visitation or Viewing

Typically, visitations or viewings provide opportunities for extended family members or friends to view the body of the deceased and offer condolences to the family. In some cases, such as during a Catholic wake, there may be a brief religious ceremony. In most cases, the event is primarily social.

As there is rarely an order of service at a visitation or viewing, you may or may not have a program. Some families have small funeral pamphlets available. Here’s what’s typically included in a funeral pamphlet. 

In Loving Memory
Roger Michael Brown
April 23, 1964 – October 12, 2020

Obituary
Since this is for an online event, you have ample room to include the entire text of the obituary.

Poem
Include the text of a favorite poem, song lyrics, or quote about death. 

Service Information
Zoom Funeral Service
October 15, 2020
2 p.m.
[Link]

Sample Outline for Online Visitation or Viewing

An online visitation can be held in a variety of ways. You may allow people to go online to offer condolences through a video chat. Each person may wait their turn in a virtual waiting room until the family members can speak to them individually. 

There may also be an online guest book, which would allow online visitors to leave their name and a brief written memory of the deceased. Your funeral home may have a virtual guest book. Or you may consider using free online memorial sites

You may also give people the opportunity to view your loved one. 

Additional Thoughts Regarding Virtual Funerals

It may be challenging for you to plan a virtual funeral. Your mind may already be foggy from your recent grief, and trying to figure out the technology needed for virtual funerals and online visitations may add to your stress. 

Your funeral home director may have experience hosting online events. While they will need your input on the choices of music and readings, they should be able to take care of writing the program for the funeral as well as an outline of the events. 

Keep in mind that as you are entering uncharted waters, so are your attendees. This may be the first time for some of your guests to attend a Zoom funeral. You may want to ask the funeral home to provide a general guide to the guests to remind them to mute their phones or computers. You may also need to tell them whether their images will be displayed to others during the service, since that may determine how they present themselves. 

If you are allowing them to speak, you may want to suggest a time limit. You may also let them know whether their remarks will be available for all in attendance, or if they will be limited to those online. 

Don’t Forget the Purpose of the Service

Too often, people get caught up in the business of planning an event that they forget the reason behind it. A funeral is meant to be an opportunity to honor your loved one and say a final goodbye. Whether this is done through a screen or in person, don’t lose your focus for the event.

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