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Celebration of Life – 9 Ideas for a Memorable Service


Funeral rites have been conducted throughout human history. Traditional funerals tend to include a visitation, a funeral service, and committal service or burial. Religious tradition is typically intertwined with the service, although throughout the different practices, common secular motivations are: to mourn for the decedent, celebrate their lives, and give support and sympathy to their remaining family and loved ones. Additionally, these ceremonies are typically more solemn in nature. These services are easily recognizable, but a growing number of people are looking to see their loved ones off in a more commemorative fashion.

As an alternative to a traditional funeral, you may wish to hold a celebration of life for your loved one. The main difference between these two ceremonies is tone. A celebration of life is typically more casual, and it aims to bring people together to remember the positive elements of the individual’s life. In comparison, a traditional funeral is more somber and serious. Whether you decide to go with a traditional funeral or a celebration of life, that decision is ultimately up to you and your loved one’s family. 

If you do decide to go with a celebration of life as an alternative to a traditional funeral service, there are many ways to prepare. The event is less formal than a traditional funeral, so there is more room for personalization and creativity. If instructions for the ceremony were previously noted by your loved one, try to honor those words as best as you can. If not, remember to do what matches best with your loved one’s ideals and personality.

Ideas and inspiration for a celebration of life

  1. Location – While typical funeral services are held at funeral homes or a church, celebrations of life can be held anywhere. Choose a location where the individual felt a particular attachment or enjoyed during life. Some Popular celebration of life locations include beaches, local parks, tprivate gardens, or churches.
  2. Guestbook – A guest book could be an ideal memento for the family of the decedent. Guestscan sign their names, and leave short notes to the family.
  3. Playlist – The organizers of the event could arrange a playlist of songs that were meaningful to your loved one. Additionally, guests could suggest songs that remind them of that person.
  4. Memory book or box – Each guest could bring something that reminds them of the person. The items would be stored in a box in memory of your loved one. Guests could also write messages and letters to the individual to be compiled into a book. The messages could be last words, a memory of the past, or other notes of encouragement. Alternatively, individuals could write about stories and memories shared with the loved one. These could be written in slips to be shared with attendees.
  5. Flowers and decorations – Like a traditional funeral, flowers can be used for decoration. Color and style could be organized by the celebration planners to express the loved one’s personality or interests.
  6. Video or slideshow – Images and videos of the loved one could be compiled together to commemorate and remember their life.
  7. Eating together – The group could cater the event with their loved one’s favorite foods, or cook foods that were meaningful to them. 
  8. Speakers and performance – While eulogies are typically delivered in traditional funeral services, speakers still hold a place in celebrations of life. Guests can bring up stories and memories about their loved one to share. Additionally, guests could perform prose, songs, or scripture in remembrance of the person.
  9. Charity and community – Did your loved one support a certain cause or entertain a particular passion? If so, the event group could fundraise money through the celebration of life event to donate to the loved one’s charity or organization of choice. Other options include setting up a scholarship or fund, planting trees in their community, or organizing time to conduct community service in their name.

While a celebration of life can take place regardless of whether a burial or cremation is chosen for your loved one, cremations typically allow for more flexibility and personalization. The celebration of life can happen before or after the cremation finalization, allowing time for you and the loved one’s family to appropriately arrange the celebration and gather guests for the event. Traditional funeral services or memorials arranged with a funeral home may be tied to strict timetables and fees. Planning a personalized celebration of life frees you from that responsibility. 

If you decide to commemorate the life of your loved one through a celebration of life, a direct cremation may be a viable option. Tulip Cremation offers a high-quality, low-cost direct cremation for your loved one. When you’ve decided, call our Family Care Team at (844) 942-4909 or arrange online.

 Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash