How to Plan a Celebration-of-Life
Should I do a Full-Service Funeral and visitation with an open casket? Maybe I should go with cremation or direct burial – then plan a memorial/celebration of life at home, or somewhere? Sit down with other family members, at least once, but maybe even more than once; to explore today’s options. Here are the questions to consider:
1. Who will be invited? Ah, this is a big question, as the number of guests defines the where, when, and how of your celebration-of-life. Write down the names of everyone you think would want to be there and then set it aside. You can bet that new names will come to mind as you go along.
2. Where, and when, should the event take place? Here’s where your imagination is tempered by any scheduling or travel-related issues facing those who will be invited. Be sure to check in with out-of-town relatives and friends about their situation before settling on these critical details.
3. Who will orchestrate or conduct the event? If your loved one was religious, you may opt to have their pastor or church minister perform these tasks. However, many families today hire a non-denominational celebrant, available at your local Funeral Home, to oversee the celebration-of-life.
4. Who wishes to speak at the event? Many times family members or friends will be very direct about their desire to make a short presentation; other times you need to come out and ask folks if they would be willing to publicly share their thoughts and feelings. Either way, you’ll want to select those people who have shared a close relationship with the deceased and have something meaningful to contribute.
5. What group activities would be appropriate? We’ve heard some exciting celebration-of-life ideas over the years. One involved flying colorful kites; another incorporated a traditional Hawaiian luau feast into the event. Then there was the celebration-of-life held for an artist, who after the service, had his art “auctioned” to friends and family with monies going to the deceased’s favorite charity. This question involves thinking about what your loved one liked most about their life–and gives everyone a remarkable space to share memories, laugh, and even cry together.
6. What food or beverages should be served? And a second question here would be; “who will supply the food and drinks?” What you serve may depend on the theme of your celebration-of-life (as in the Hawaiian luau), or maybe based on your loved one’s favorite dishes. It’s entirely up to you; we’ve even seen “pot luck” where guests actually sign up to bring select foods and beverages.
7. What readings and music should you include? One family we know had a ‘swing dance’, where all the music played, mostly Benny Goodman tunes, dated from the 1930’s and 1940’s. Music is an integral part of life for many people, and a celebration-of-life is the perfect event in which to showcase the meaningful music of your loved one’s life. But, if your loved one didn’t appreciate music (and lots of folks don’t), it may be more appropriate to read chosen spiritual selections or excerpts from literature.
8. What details of your loved one’s life do you want to share with the guest? Not every biographical detail needs to be highlighted; rather you’re trying to capture their essence by telling revealing anecdotes or stories. Sometimes you can reveal their character by detailing one short moment in their life experience.
9. What decorations will you have? Many families create a tribute video and use it as the centerpiece of the event. Others choose to use a memory table of photographs and other memorabilia instead. A local author, who wrote numerous books, had his books on display, like a bookstore, during his celebration. The family made them available for friends, family, and former students to take home after the service.
Let Us Help with the Celebration of Life
We know that’s a lot to think about. But we urge you to take your time; be thoughtful, and don’t hesitate to explore all our packages to find one that works best for you and your family. Let’s talk about your loved one’s life; share some stories with us. We’re confident that, together, we can come up with the perfect package to suit your needs, expectations, and budget.
Are You Undecided? Contact me and we can discuss your feelings and thoughts.