A Celebration of Life, a Traditional Funeral, or Both?
A celebration of life is an increasingly popular alternative, or addition, to a traditional funeral service. The two are the same in many ways, but there are also important differences.
What is a celebration of life?
It is exactly what it says, an opportunity to celebrate the life of the deceased. A life celebration centres on making the occasion a joyous remembrance of a departed loved one. It encourages people to share memories and stories about the departed. Like a funeral, it is a public acknowledgement of a death and it also offers support to the grieving family. Some families have a funeral in a church followed by the burial in a cemetery. Others have the funeral at the creamtorium before the body is cremated. Funerals, however, are traditionally a serious affair which follow a fairly set order of service. A celebration of life is much freer and can take many forms.
When does a celebration of life take place?
A celebration of life normally takes place after the disposal of the body. This is the reason why it is quite possible to have both. First, you can have a funeral, and then at a later date, the memorial service can take place. This can give more time to plan a really special tribute to the departed. Additionally, it gives people a chance to get over the initial shock and sadness.
Ideas for the celebration
- Dress code. Bright is usually the order of the day. Sometimes there is a theme colour and this is normally the favourite of the departed.
- Photos. Encourage attendees to bring along a photo of the deceased. These can be used to create a collage or to stimulate the telling of anecdotes and tales.
- Music. Play the departed's favourite tunes. You can even book a funeral DJ to get people singing and dancing.
- Food and drink. No celebration would be complete without great eats. Why not serve the deceased's favourite culinary delights?
- Eulogies, quotes, and poems. Set aside a time for anyone who wishes to express themselves to everyone present.
- A special send-off. Release a host of biodegradable balloons, or have a fireworks display.
- Presents. Many families choose to say thank you to attendees by giving them a small present. Blooming ornaments are a popular choice.
- Keepsakes. The celebration of life is also the ideal occasion for sharing the cremation ashes between family members or special friends. There is a wide variety of keepsake urns and cremation jewellery to choose from.