Celebration of Life:
What is a Celebration of Life Service?

Funeral. Memorial. Shiva. These end-of-life services are time-honored traditions when it comes to honoring the dead. Our culture, family traditions, religious beliefs and personal accomplishments are as unique as a life lived and can also play a role in how we honor a life - incorporating these details can transform an end-of-life services into celebrations-of-life.

In recent years, more and more requests are being made to incorporate these unique details into traditional funerals and memorials to ensure the uniqueness of the life lived is represented. People are foregoing the traditional funeral rituals and choosing to celebrate the life of the person who died in a personal, meaningful and memorable way.

A celebration-of-life service is only one part of funeral (or memorial) decisions

When someone dies there are many decisions to be made and usually not a lot of time to make them in. Of all the life events we acknowledge, funerals and memorials are typically not well researched in advance - and in many cases not even discussed among family members. We are often left making hasty decisions out of necessity and lump all of our plans into one big basket called a "funeral." Try to mentally organize what's happening into 4 separate areas:

Feelings of grief and sadness. Grief and mourning are natural expressions of emotions experienced with loss and death. When we love someone and they are no longer present in our lives, we miss them. It's natural to feel grief - it's sad and emotional, and making important (and timely) decisions can be difficult, so it's important to lean on others to help.

Decisions regarding the physical body. Cremation or burial? Whether it's a cultural belief or personal preference, decisions about what to do with the physical body need to be made.

Administrative matters. Organizing the meals, making arrangements for out-of-town guests, notifying others, cleaning out an estate, getting copies of the death certificate - these administrative chores can be given to others looking for ways to help.

Celebrations-of-life. It's been said a person needs to talk about their grief 100 times in order to move through the grieving process. Whether this happens in a traditional setting such as a funeral home, an intimate setting such as a backyard or at a large venue, the idea of having people come together to support the living and honor the life of the person who died is important to the grieving process.

A celebration-of-life service is not an event - it's a way of thinking.

A celebration-of-life honors the life of the person who died and uplifts those who attend. This personalization can be as subtle as displaying photographs and personal mementos, playing meaningful music or other favorite items at a traditional venue or by hosting an elaborate well-planned party in honor of the person who died.