How to Write a Candle Light Memorial Service

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Candle light memorial services can honor one person or many. Hospice organizations and funeral homes often sponsor candle light services. The Compassionate Friends, a bereavement group for parents who have lost children, conducts an annual worldwide candle light service the second Sunday of December. Whether the memorial service is to honor one person or many, include poems, music and memories along with a candle lighting, which symbolizes “letting their light shine.”

Gather information about the honorees, including name, age and basic information about their lives, education and work. Talk to family members about the honorees to get a fuller sense of each person. Request a short list of their favorite books, pastimes, movies, songs and poems. Include a song or poem written by an honoree in the program, if available.

Decide who will speak during the candle light memorial service. You may have to limit the number of speakers in order to keep the service within a certain time frame. Assign certain people to read a particular message or poem and let others volunteer to speak if there is time. Keep in mind that it can take around five minutes per speaker.

Choose speakers such as a religious leader, a teacher, a physician or director of an organization who will offer words of comfort and hope. Consider having someone read one of the closing prayers often used at candle light memorial services.

Write the program for the service using basic word-processing software. Use a simple design such as an 8-by-11 plain sheet of paper in landscape, folded in the middle. The front of the program should identify the event and date and include a picture or graphic.

Outline the program starting with the first inside page. List each speaker and her topic such as the first speaker, who will give the welcome speech. Rotate through poems, meditations and songs throughout the program to avoid grouping them together. Close the program with a prayer or benediction.

Choose the time you want to light the candles and include it in the program. There are different methods to lighting the candles. You can start with just one, a main candle, allowing each person to light his candle from it or pass the flame from one candle to the next. With inside events, when you to turn the lights out in the room, the candles will make a dramatic circle of light. Outside events allow for lit candles to illuminate a sidewalk, steps leading to the focal area or rows of light held high by participants.

Read a short invocation and the names of the honorees right before or after the lighting of the candles. Include a list of the names in the program as a written memorial to them.