A funeral or life celebration service can be a very supportive thing when a family has lost a loved one. Once everyone has left, though, it can be a challenging time. Some ideas to include in the celebration that can provide long term support are a good idea.
Here are a few I have created with families, and I hope they are helpful as you make your plans:
- Memory postcards. Ask those who cannot attend to send a postcard with one memory they have of the person who has passed. One good time they shared or something that makes them smile when they think of them. These are all going to be collected and kept to read and draw comfort from in the future.
- Photo collage. Ask everyone attending the life celebration to bring a photo of themselves with your loved one. Perhaps they worked together, went to school together, or were party lovers and have lots of recent photos. Whatever their connection, ask them to bring one photo that you can keep and to write their name and the date on the back, Ask that they add it to a collage board at the ceremony. After the service, you can keep these photos and will always have them to look back on.
- Story collection. People often write to you to express sympathy when you lose someone you love. It is one of the few times we get letters that are not bills these days. These cards and letters often contain stories of the relationship they had with your loved one. It is also a nice item to include in a life celebration, from those unable to attend. After the service keep them in a photo album or scrap book to go back to. It is a wonderful reminder that other people are aware of your loss and are thinking of you.
- Consider having the service recorded. Whether sound only, or with video, it can be worth having the service recorded. Many people tell me the ceremony is over so quickly, and they can’t remember what people said. Having it recorded means you can listen again, or share it with those who cannot be with you. Professionals are very discreet and will not make anyone feel uncomfortable or disturb anyone with their filming.
It’s the contact three months after the life celebration that we often need the most
I have seen many families comforted by the thoughtfulness of others, often years after the death of a loved one. Remembering and marking their passing by arranging to have coffee together on the anniversary; sending flowers and a hand written card three months after their funeral just to say we’re thinking of you; being there to listen even when you’re not sure what to say. Human connection, however imperfect is healing and reminds us that life does go on.
I hope some of these ideas might help you decide what to include in a life celebration at a time when you need comfort.
From my heart to yours,
If you’d like to have an informal chat about creating a Celebration book a zoom and a coffee with me. It’s free, we’ll chat for about 15 minutes and see if I am the right Celebrant for you. You can book here: BOOK A CHAT WITH DINAH
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