Grand Rapids:


Planning a Funeral in Grand Rapids, MI

What you need to know

Nothing can fully prepare us for the loss of someone we love, and most of us are not prepared to plan and carry out a funeral ceremony for someone we love. In the midst of grief and organizing the details of a service, it can be difficult to focus on what’s important: having a personalized, meaningful funeral. A personalized funeral helps families and friends begin the healing process of mourning after the death of someone they love. 

Here at Gerst, we want to help you by playing a critical role in planning and carrying out a meaningful funeral or memorial service. Our licensed funeral directors are intimately familiar with walking loved ones through the funeral process, key decisions a grieving family must make, and necessary legal documentation that is required during this difficult time. Our funeral professionals can handle all of the details and help you create a unique service that fits your needs and values. 

What are some ways to give a memorial service a more personal, customized touch that reflects the importance and richness of the life lost? A simple but effective way to bring a unique aspect to a loved one’s memorial service is through music. Choosing to play their favorite songs before, during, or after the ceremony honors their personal taste and often brings back happy memories for those in attendance. 

Family can include photo boards and video montages of significant events of their lifetime, such as wedding photos, birthdays, prom, vacations, funny moments, and family memories.

Ask what things they held dearly and what they would want to be included in their service. For some, a passion was incredibly important in their life, and they may have wanted a photo of themselves playing guitar. Some individuals would want photos with their pets or children. The photos chosen convey the personality of the person who has passed and bring guests together as they cherish the complexity of the life that is being left behind. 

Objects of significance can be placed alongside flowers and memorial collages. These might include trophies, military insignia, golf clubs, family heirlooms, jewelry, artwork, or favorite book. Comfort items are a nice way to honor the person who passed and bring creativity to the arrangement of their memorial display. For earth burials, sentimental items can also be placed in the casket or at the gravesite. 

Meaningful Funerals

Meaningful funeral ceremonies make a significant difference in how families channel their grief toward health and healing. During the funeral, the community comes together and responds to the reality that someone has died and digest it in a way that is tangible. People also come together to provide and receive support, compassion, love, hope, and understanding from those who loved the person who is now gone. The funeral encourages you to think about the person who has passed and how they touched the lives of others.

The choices that take place in the planning of the funeral service can be an important part of the process of mourning, and this process of contemplation creates a memorable and moving funeral experience for all who attend.

Flowers on an altar in the church and the candles on background

A Funeral’s Purpose

A funeral provides for the dignified and respectful care of the person who died and gives a special tribute to their life.

Equally important, the funeral service helps survivors face the reality of death, which is the first big step toward taking grief from the inside and allowing us to express it through mourning. Together, close friends and relatives can lend support and consolation when they’re needed most. It can be incredibly comforting to be surrounded by others who understand the grief you are experiencing. 

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. – T.S. Eliot

Helping You and Your Family Create a Meaningful Funeral

It can feel overwhelming having to make decisions during the depths of your grief. This is not the time to deny your need to mourn. You may feel deep sadness as you plan this funeral and begin to acknowledge the reality that someone you love has died.

But when all is said and done, you will feel deep satisfaction that you helped plan a meaningful tribute or ceremony for someone who meant so much to your own life, and you will be on the path to a healthy grieving process. 


Decorative flower arrangement of white roses on the fireplace

Making Informed Funeral Choices

After selecting a funeral home, you and your family will choose the type of funeral service to hold, what will happen to the body and where it will be laid to rest. How a body will be cared for after death is an important decision.

Whether you choose burial or cremation, you can use elements of ceremony to honor the life of your loved one and to allow you and your family to say goodbye in a meaningful way.