Funerals and Life Celebrations are not the same thing. You may hear Celebrants and Funeral Directors referring to them as though they were. However, it is important to understand that a Life Celebration is bespoke, has no set format or timing and can be carried out anywhere.
As a Celebrant, I often take a non-religious or mixed-religion service. Many are very traditional, and take place at a crematorium or chapel or rest or at a graveside. They are usually around 30 minutes and attendees are usually listening in silence, unless we include a hymn or prayer for them to join in.
These are funeral services. They have been and continue to be an important way for many families to start grieving. They provide a safe way for members of the community and friends of the family, to show respect. They will always have their place. There are, however, many other ways we can celebrate the life of those we love who die, and a Life Celebration is one of these.
So, what is a life celebration?
Firstly, there are no rules. This means that a Life Celebration can take almost any form you wish. It can be at the same time as the cremation, or burial, or it can be held at a later time. Some people choose to have a direct cremation, with nobody in attendance. They then have a service of their choosing at a favorite place or in their home.
It is called a Life Celebration for a reason. The event should be a celebration, not a sad memorial or another occasion for mourning. This often means that some time needs to pass before you are ready to have the Life Celebration you really want. And that is fine. There are no time limits here.
I recently held a Life Celebration to mark the third anniversary of a young man’s passing. We gathered on what would have been his 21st birthday and had a party. Yes, there were some tears shed, as he is greatly missed. But there was so much joy. The stories shared by his friends as we all sat round a campfire toasting marshmallows were wonderful.
A Life Celebration can take many forms. Some of my favorites have included:
- A barbecue on a beach, with friends and family and songs round the fire.
- Planting a woodland on land that the family owned.
- Wild swimming in the Brecon Beacons followed by star gazing.
- A large family get together, sharing stories and then watching old family movies together.
All of these different ways of coming together to celebrate what your loved ones brought to your lives. A way to come back together, often with friends who have special memories of the person you are remembering. And most of all, a way to say ‘we are better off for having known them.’
If you’re thinking about how to create a really special Life Celebration for someone you’ve lost, I’d love to help. Why not book a coffee and zoom with me and we’ll chat about your memories and how we can celebrate them in the right way.
From my heart to yours,