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Solange 12th Dec 2011

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A Memorial service for residents who passed away in Nursing homes or Retirement Villages could be for instance, a small religious service performed by a minister of religion. It entails saying a group prayer, a resident or two reading a passage of the bible or remembering a friend with a few words or reading a poem of farewell.
Residents and their families may light candles or place wreaths near the 'altar' in honour of their loved ones.
Another alternative is to have a dignified non-religious ceremony which could go like this:
Start with some appropriate background music, then a welcome and brief explanation of the ceremony by someone of your choice. Follow with poems or stories read from members of the bereaved families and/or staff. If you wish it, have a minute of group silence in honour of those departed.
Offer refreshments at the ending of the ceremony.
Regarding your mother, I can only tell you what I did. My mum passed away last year in Brazil; I wasn't able to attend her funeral. I had a non-religious service at my house where I invited only relatives. We played the music she liked and had an album of photos of her three visits to Australia. After a long reminiscing session when we each spoke about her influence in our lives we planted a tree in her honour in the garden. This was followed by lunch.

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