While all of our services, whether a traditional funeral service, memorial service, burial service or veteran funeral service, celebrate a loved one’s life, we also can help you prepare what are called celebration of life events. These gatherings are typically less formal, less structured and less somber than a funeral or memorial service. The mood of the gathering is joyful and celebratory. It is an opportunity to remember all of the good things about your loved one and the happy times you had together. There are no hard-and-fast rules about what takes place during the event, and it may not have any structure at all.
Where and when do you celebrate?
These events usually are not held at a funeral home chapel or place of worship, although they can be. They are normally held in an outdoor venue such as a park, family member’s or friend’s home or a rented facility. Celebrations of life can be held anywhere meaningful to your loved one or family.
The event can take place a few days, weeks or months after your loved one passes. You can even choose to celebrate a year later and on subsequent anniversaries of their death.
What to consider when planning a celebration of life event.
This is an opportunity to call out what brought joy to your loved one. It may be their passions, intellectual pursuits and personal accomplishments. Your loved one may give you their celebration directives before they pass away, but here are some ideas:
- Ask people to share photos as well as stories and memories, both poignant and humorous, at the gathering.
- Provide a memory book, jar or box and ask everyone attending to jot down a memory or contribute a photo or item to the box. Read aloud and share those memories with those at the gathering.
- Ask people to contribute a decorated square made from a piece of your loved one’s clothing and make a memory quilt.
- Play or perform your loved one’s favorite music.
- Hold a candle-lighting ceremony, release bubbles, float flowers or memory notes in a stream or have a memorial ride to your loved one’s favorite places.
- Invite guests to donate to your loved one’s favorite charity, school or nonprofit organization. You could also hold an annual walk, run, bike ride or boat race in their honor to raise funds for organizations and community services or events that your loved one treasured.
You will also want to plan for food and drinks at the event. This can be as simple or elaborate as you want, prepared by you, catered or a potluck. The foods can be themed or your loved one’s favorite recipes. Sharing a meal or snacks is a relaxing way to exchange your happiest memories.
Need help in planning your celebration of life event? We are here for you.
We have years of experience listening, brainstorming and advising families like yours how they can best pay tribute to a beloved family member. We will explore the options with you and guide you on the steps to take. Just ask.