When we lose a loved one, we seek the perfect way to honor their memory. Often this means religious or cultural customs are appropriate, and a traditional funeral can be a beautiful tribute to the deceased. The formality of a funeral, however, may not accurately reflect the vibrant character of the departed. You might want to consider the less formal and more personalized approach known as a celebration of life.
A celebration of life may look more like a party than a funeral. A celebration as a funeral alternative is often held at the request of the deceased. It can be preplanned or happen simply as a way for loved ones to get together and share memories. The celebration can be held a few days after passing or even months or years later. Here are ideas to help you plan a celebration of life that best commemorates your loved one.
Choose a date. It is difficult to make decisions just after a major loss, so it might be best to wait until after the initial shock has subsided. A celebration of life can be held in place of, in conjunction with or following a funeral, cremation or burial. Waiting a few weeks or months will allow for some needed healing. Others can help you plan, or you may want to enlist the services of a professional planner. Planning ahead of time allows for the best options for venue and other services, and also allows your loved ones time to make travel arrangements.
Choose a location. Many factors will determine where a celebration of life takes place. If weather permits, an outside ceremony might be perfect to honor your loved one’s life. You can include blow bubbles or release balloons during the day, or light luminaries in the evening time. An indoor venue is perfect for catered meals or dancing. Think about a location that your loved one frequented such as a favorite restaurant. You can even hold a celebration of life as part of a larger event, like a 5K run benefiting a beloved charity.
Consider who is going to attend. Start with immediate and extended family, as well as current and former friends. Coworkers and fellow church members may also want to celebrate with you. Reach out to people your loved one kept in contact with on social media, too. Feel comfortable asking for an RSVP so you can plan for the number of people.
Think about what activities you would like to have. You might want to have readings from a holy book or poem. Someone might want to give a tribute in speech or song. Have guests take turns sharing memories of the departed. Play music they listened to with a live band, DJ or playlist. Rent a photo booth and have guests take memorable pictures with your loved one’s picture. Those closest to the deceased can offer insight and suggestions to best reflect their life.
Plan for refreshments. This is simple if you hold your celebration of life at a restaurant. Otherwise, you can plan a potluck where each guest brings a dish that reminds them of your loved one. Larger gatherings might benefit from a caterer. Food and beverage based on a theme, such as ethnic cuisine or a barbecue, is an option, as is a bar, which certainly contributes to that celebratory feel.
Personalize the experience. This celebration can be a few close family members or a huge party. Decorations can reflect a chosen theme or the favorite colors of your loved one. Did your loved one like sports? Hold a tailgating party. Did your loved one have pets? Consider a fundraiser for a local animal shelter.
For assistance about planning a celebration of life, or if you have questions about what to do next after the death of a loved one, rely on the caring professionals at Bi-State Cremation & Funeral Service We’re here to assist you throughout the process, and we’re proud to serve the area with St Louis funeral home services. Call us today at 314-831-8688.