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How To Make A Memorial Service A Celebration Of Life


A memorial service doesn’t have to be a sad and dreary affair. In fact, it can be a celebration of life. A memorial should be meaningful and uplifting and it should serve as a celebration of what that person liked, accomplished, or did in life – the things that were important to them – and the impact that they made on those around them.

A celebration of life service is a unique way to address a memorial service. A memorial service serves to honor the person and pay your respects to them and their family. However, it can also serve as a celebration of their life and all they brought to the lives of others. Choosing to hold a celebration of life relieves some of the sadness of the loss and instead looks at all the positive and uplifting messages to be learned through loss. It may also serve as a coping mechanism for a grief stricken family to celebrate all that they loved about the deceased rather than to mourn all that they lost.

How do you hold a celebration of life service?

What things were important to the loved one you lost? Were they a great painter? Did they have a passion, a hobby, a particular interest? Did they serve in a war? What things were especially intriguing or unique about that person? Make these things a part of that person’s celebration of life service. These qualities, artifacts and memorable items that were a part of that person’s life should be an integral part of the service and serves as an apt and personal representation.

Pictures are important. Include pictures of the person from all different ages of that person’s life and pictures from different phases. Grade school up through college, childhood friends, adult friends, on the court, the arena, the playing field - add them all. Display pictures of what that person was doing in their most memorable and happiest moments and who and what made them fulfilled and full of laughter. The pictures will serve as a visual and emotional journal of the deceased and brings family and friends together with memories, some laughter, some tears and love. You can arrange the pictures chronologically, topically, or a combination of both.

The picture arrangement can be done a variety of ways. Display the pictures on a table in frames that greet the guests as they arrive. The pictures can be assembled in collages and as movies or videos that can be played with music as part of the memorial service. Not only does this bring happier times with the deceased to the minds and hearts of all but it also allows for communication and reminiscing with family and friends.

What kinds of things should be gathered for a Celebration of Life service?

  • Favorite foods and dishes – food brings people together. This is a great idea and a new trend in celebration of life services. Choose several of the favorite dishes of the person, especially if they liked to cook them and include those as part of the refreshments and meals for the service. This serves a dual purpose. It acts as the food for the service and relieves the challenge of having the event catered at a high cost. It also helps people remember what that person loved and shared with friends and families.
  • Favorite items from their hobbies – If the deceased person was really into basketball, baseball, traveling, golfing, crafting, or what have you, include items relevant to that hobby. Personal items can be included as well, like a favorite baseball that was signed by a professional baseball player or a set of golf clubs. These physical, tangible items, even if it seems silly to bring them, help people to remember who that person was and what they did and it gives people an emotional connection to the deceased.
  • Military service memorabilia – Anyone who was in military service should have some of their items brought in so that people can revere and honor them for their duty and service to this country. Things like medals, weapons, uniforms, and pictures will serve to illustrate just how much that person gave back to the country. It is a good way to show how courageous, brave, and strong the person was and to honor their service to their country.

These items can all be displayed on a memory table when people walk in. Consider multiple memory tables to avoid overcrowding. Placing multiple decorated tables around the room with personal items and memorabilia to the deceased allows for a more celebratory atmosphere and lets friends and family enjoy and appreciate every aspect of the life and personality of the deceased. It also helps to create a loving and joyful presence of the deceased that is unique to their life.

Further additions to a Celebration of Life service to make it memorable:

  • Music – Play music that was special or important to the deceased or music that they sang or performed. It helps people to feel and sense who that person was. It gives them a real and intimate way to remember that person. And it also honors another facet to the life of your loved one.
  • Art – If your loved one had a favorite movie, TV show, poet, author, architect, sculptor, or artist this can be referenced in some way throughout the service.
  • Share Moments – Share special, serious or funny moments. Have friends and family talk about the things that they remembered about the person, such as an event or memory that really stood out. This is a heartfelt way to remember the special things about the person and puts the whole celebration of life into focus. These stories are an audible history lesson on the life of the deceased that binds together all that came to celebrate their life.

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