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How to honor a life
Suffering the loss of a loved one can be hard to talk about. Often, loneliness and sadness overshadow the memory and legacy your loved one left behind. Holding a celebration that focuses on their life, instead of their passing, can be a great way to celebrate the memories, experiences, and liveliness of your loved one. To celebrate your loved one’s life, you need nothing more than a time, a place, and friends and family that knew your loved one. Though, there are other things, such as food and music, that can make the celebration more lively.
- Include decorations that are meaningful.
- Have mementos to take away.
- Offer guests a private way to share their memories.
- Remember to keep it child friendly.
- Keep the celebration upbeat.
- Include any special requests your loved one may have had prior to passing.
Including Others in the Celebration
Starting with the guest list can give you a good idea of what the celebration will look like. Write down the name of anyone you can think of that might want to attend. Anytime you think of a new name, write it on the list. You can reach out to these guests as you plan the next stages of the celebration.
Here is the first place your guest list can come in handy. Contact guests on the list, especially those who were particularly close to your loved one, and ask them for dates that they could possibly attend. This is especially important for guests that will be traveling long distances.
- A great way to do this is to get everyone’s email address and send out a poll (e.g. Doodle Poll) that gives guests an array of possible dates. Each guest can select any of the dates that they can attend, and you can set a date based on the results.
Your venue will also be dictated by your guests. Obviously, you need to select a venue that is large enough to house all of your guests, but you should also consider things such as handicap accessibility and how child friendly your venue is before deciding. You can also make a shortlist of venues that would serve the celebration well, and ask your guests for their input.
- Some possible venues include churches, schools, outdoor spaces (parks, campgrounds, etc.), and a host of other unique spots that might house a special celebration.
One of the perks to a celebration of life is that it is free flowing. That said, you can make things go much smoother by having some agenda made. Send this agenda to all guests ahead of time, or hand it out as guests arrive. The order of events should include things like:
- When does the celebration start?
- When will each speaker speak?
- When will food be served?
- When will any other special events take place?
- When is the celebration set to end?
Not all celebrations will have formal speakers. If you do want guests to speak, you should ask them ahead of time so that they have time to prepare something to say. If someone prefers not to speak, remember that many people are fearful of public speaking, especially in such an emotional setting.
If there will be multiple food options, an RSVP can help you determine how many of each option will need to be prepared. Another common way to hold a celebration of life is to ask guests to bring specific dishes, such as salad or pie. These special dishes often reflect the favorite foods of the loved one who has passed. For an even more free flowing event, you could request that each guest bring a dish for a potluck at the celebration.
- You can also ask guests to bring drinks, plates, napkins, etc.
- It is not necessary to serve food at the celebration, but you should make it clear to guests that they need to eat before they arrive.
As you plan the event, others may offer advice or suggestions. You are not obligated to change the celebration multiple times at every guest’s request, but be open to good ideas that can make the celebration more meaningful. After all, many of your guests were close to your loved one as well and can offer great insight into their life.
- For example, if someone were to suggest hanging pictures from your loved one’s favorite art collection during the celebration, you could acknowledge that as a good idea and incorporate it into the celebration.