The natural response to the death of a loved one is grief. According to Mary Martineau, LCSW, MSW, “we must move through grief, not by ‘getting over it’ or ‘moving on’ but by experiencing it wholly, which takes time.” As a part of letting go, many families today are opting for a celebration of life party rather than a funeral or wake.

Celebrating a loved one’s life allows your family to focus on happy memories while still saying goodbye. To many, these events feel more personal and intimate than funerals. Read on to find out more about the right celebration to honor your loved one.

1. The Practicalities

Given that celebration of life events are typically held after the deceased remains have been cared for through a burial or cremation, you have ample time available to plan the gathering.

Like festivities commemorating other major life events, preparing a life commemoration involves deciding on a location, date, and time. You’ll want to determine how to invite people to the gathering, too. Will you send out written invitations, texts, or a social media event?

Think outside of the box as you consider venues. Beaches, parks, and other outdoor sites are excellent places for a memorial and they can accommodate fluctuating numbers of guests. Unusual venues also allow you to honor your loved one by choosing a spot they enjoyed.

2. Research Hiring a Celebrant

Depending on the size and complexity of the event, consider hiring a celebrant to help. Celebrants are professional planners who work with families to organize memorials. They handle the practicalities of organizing a special event as well as consider issues related to cultural, religious, and spiritual preferences.

3. Invite Family and Friends to Speak

One of the most poignant and beautiful aspects of celebrating a loved one’s life is remembering loved ones through the shared memories of family and friends. Ask family members and close friends to jot down anecdotes they’d like to share. If they feel comfortable speaking during the ceremony, their words will be deeply cherished.

If you hire a celebrant, you can ask them to read these recollections on behalf of family members and friends too bereaved to deliver the words themselves. This is also a great option for children and teenagers who may find it difficult to speak publicly.

4. Customize the Event

Would you like to have a photo display where people enter? Or, a slide show or tribute movie? What kind of music and lighting feels appropriate for the celebration?

Is there a certain theme that your dearly departed would have loved? Or maybe mementos such as a favorite hat or letterman’s jacket? Make this a true celebration by highlighting your loved one’s personality, interests, and accomplishments.

5. Plan Activities

Consider which hobbies and activities your loved one enjoyed most. Were they an avid gardener? Then, hand out seed packets, saplings, or plants for people to take home and plant in their remembrance.

Did they enjoy nature? Plan a group walk or sky lantern release.

Did they live for riding their bike? Organize a group ride in their honor.

The great thing about a life celebration is that it lets you plan activities that your dearly departed would’ve relished. Plus, it’ll make you and your guests feel instantly closer to your loved one.

6. Refreshments

As you’re preparing a celebration of life, here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you want to serve refreshments at the event?
  • If so, will you stop at beverages?
  • Or will there be food, too?
  • Which types of food would you like?
  • How many guests will be fed?
  • Will you hire a caterer?

Celebrating the life of a loved one doesn’t require a sit-down meal by any means. However, offering light refreshments will help older guests stave off low blood sugar and keep smaller children happy and well-behaved.

7. Decorations

Depending on where you hold your celebration, decorations may be central to your theme. Or they may not be necessary at all. Go with what feels right for you and the loved one you’re remembering.

A Celebration of Life

A celebration of life can be custom-tailored to your loved one’s interests, hobbies, and achievements. From music to storytelling to sharing photos, choose activities that draw you and your guests closer to your loved one.

Are you in the process of planning a final send-off for someone special? Spend some time on our blog to learn more about unique ways to organize a memorial. Feel free to contact us to discuss your family’s unique needs.

As a private and family-owned funeral provider, Mile High Mortuary & Cremation Service offers traditional funeral and cremation services with over 30 years experience in assisting families during their time of need.

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