A funeral ceremony is a public performance. It must, therefore, contain ingredients which will enable it to engage and hold the attention of the audience.

All the following ingredients form part of most religious worship. Religions have a long experience in staging events which appeal to the head, the heart and the senses.

The trick is to get the proportions of ingredients right. A celebrant can be an invaluable consultant in helping you to do this. Celebrants know what works and what doesn’t.

A memorial cairn is a pile of stones, conical in shape. It may be made by one person or by many.

The Rev Roy Phillips advances the idea that one of the purposes of a funeral or a memorial service is “to place a cairn at the end of one human being’s journey.” This memorial cairn, he said “is made up of the memories, the thoughts, the feelings of all who are gathered in the one place together.”

This is a useful image. You can think of creating a funeral as building a cairn, and of each ingredient as one of the stones.