A celebration of life is a ceremony during which friends and family of the deceased joyfully celebrate their memory. So, if your loved one wished to have their life commemorated in this way, how do you prepare?

What is a Celebration of Life?

Celebrations of life differ from traditional funerals in their tone. While funerals are sombre occasions, a celebration of life is more casual and focuses on positivity rather than grief.

Some people wish to be remembered by a celebration of life ceremony rather than a funeral. For others, the celebration of life is used like a memorial service – that is, a separate occasion that takes place after the funeral.
A celebration of life can have religious content, or it can be non-religious, depending on what your loved one would have wanted.

Celebration of Life Venue

Because this kind of ceremony is more relaxed than a funeral, you have more options when it comes to choosing a venue. You could select a location that held special significance for the departed. Alternatively, you can celebrate their interests and hobbies by picking a venue that reflects the things they loved. For example, if they loved nature, you might select a beautiful park. You could also host the event from a house instead of a rented venue.

Date

There aren’t formal etiquette rules for when to host a celebration of life. Consider what your loved one would have wanted and think about when your friends and family will feel ready for such an event. They are often held a few days or weeks after the burial or cremation. However, others might choose to mark the anniversary of their passing with a celebration of life instead.

Dress Code

As with the venue, the dress code is often more casual than at a funeral. You might ask everyone to come in bright colours to create a joyful and positive mood. Or you might tie the dress code in with your loved one’s interests or their favourite colour.

Ceremony Content

There are many different things you can do at a celebration of life ceremony. You don’t need to follow the same formula as a funeral. However, some people do still choose to have an order of service prepared with speeches, songs, and readings. Likewise, it will also be your choice whether or not to have a celebrant to help you arrange a service.

Because there are no rules on how to host this sort of occasion, you can tailor the event as you wish. However, to help guide you, it’s good to keep your loved one’s wishes – as well as the feelings of the rest of the family – in mind. Although it is a happy occasion to celebrate the departed one’s life, it is likely that emotions will still be mixed with grief as everyone reminisces.

With that in mind, here are a few popular ideas for celebration of life ceremonies:

Plant a seed. Whether it’s a memorial tree, fruit and vegetables, or flowers, planting something together is a beautiful way to remember your loved one.

Theme the day. Select one of your loved one’s interests and build the day around that theme. Whether it’s a historic time period, an artistic medium, or something else entirely, starting off your planning with a theme is sure to generate lots of ideas.

Create a memory box. Friends and family can celebrate the departed by writing down beloved memories and bringing items that share a connection with your loved one. Together, you can create a memory box or a scrapbook that will always remind you of them.

Play music. Prepare a playlist of their favourite tunes. Attendees can sing, dance, and enjoy the music that meant so much to your loved one.

Donate to charity. If there is a charity that meant a lot to the deceased, why not think about ways to incorporate donations into the celebration of life? You and your attendees could volunteer or have a sponsored event.

Talk together. For some, keeping things simple is all they need. You can prepare refreshments for attendees and take the time to reminisce about your loved one. Share memories and express what they meant to you.