What is a Celebration of Life ceremony?

A Celebration of Life ceremony reflects the beliefs, values and wishes of the person who has died. It should fulfil the needs of the people closest to them and should also meet the expectations of everyone who attends the ceremony.

Each ceremony is unique, as unique as the person who has died and of course, as the life they have lived. It is created as a highly personal ceremony focussing solely on them.

Because you and your family oversee the creation of the ceremony, a Celebration of Life ceremony should be everything you want it to be.

How is the ceremony created?

There is no set format for these ceremonies. It can be created by you and/or your family, with me. I will make an appointment, directly with you, to visit you and as many members of your family as you wish, either at your home or other venue, if you would prefer. Together, we will talk about the life of the deceased and discuss how you would like the ceremony to be.

You may wish to have special music or songs played during the ceremony and perhaps include readings or poetry. Some people might also wish to add a prayer, psalm or sing a hymn, by way of including those members of the family who might feel that the funeral is not ‘quite right’ without them. But, the main part of the ceremony will be the tribute reflecting the life of the person who has died.

I will be able to advise and guide you through this process; interpreting your wishes and making practical suggestions regarding content, structure and timing of the ceremony. After meeting with you, I will be able to write the tribute, or indeed, you may wish to do some part of it yourself. It is also possible that other members of the family or close friends may wish to be involved in the tribute.

Every family is different and not everyone will want the same style of funeral ceremony. You may find that the deceased has already expressed certain wishes for their funeral ceremony, which family members are very keen to honour.

Once the tribute has been prepared, you will be given/emailed a copy which should be checked for accuracy, ie., names spelled correctly, dates are accurate etc.

On the day of the Celebration of Life ceremony, I will arrive at your chosen venue at least 30 minutes prior to the given time, in order that I can greet other mourners on your behalf. During the ceremony, I will present the tribute (if that is your wish), guide the proceedings throughout and make any necessary announcements relating to the gathering after the ceremony or possible collection for the deceased’s chosen charity, if they had one. After the ceremony, I will supply you with copies of the service.

I realise that you may not be familiar with the concept of a Celebration of Life ceremony, but, please be assured that I will liaise, throughout the whole process, with both yourself, and your chosen Funeral Director.

The Tribute

As said, the tribute is the actual ‘heart’ of the ceremony. It should detail the attributes, experiences and qualities of the deceased that will capture the very essence of them.

With you and your family’s assistance, I will be able to write a completely unique tribute, which will form a large part of the civil funeral ceremony.

The tribute could include as much or as little of the following information as you wish:

– Full name, possible nickname or name the deceased was known by
– Date and place of birth
– Parents and any siblings’ names
– Schools attended and childhood
– College life, University life and Work life
– Marriage, children, family life
– Hobbies and interests
– Characteristics, personality and any particular sayings
– Lasting memories from family, friends and work colleagues.

As said previously, the tribute is generally delivered by me; however, this could be undertaken, in part, by a family member or friend of the deceased. The length of the tribute will be dependent on the timing allowed at your selected venue or whether, perhaps, you choose to book two consecutive slots at the Crematorium. This will all be discussed during the visit.

Venues for a Celebration of Life ceremony

A Celebration of Life ceremony can be held almost anywhere, with the exception of a church or other religious buildings. It is an appropriate ceremony for both cremations and burials, provided the burial is held in a non-consecrated cemetery or natural burial site.

If preferred, the deceased’s family might wish to have a private family Celebration of Life ceremony, at either a crematorium or cemetery. This could then be followed, at a later date, by a Celebration of Life memorial ceremony for a much larger gathering of people. These memorial ceremonies can then be held in any venue of your choice, for example, venues where wedding ceremonies are held, as they will have the appropriate sized rooms and seating capacity. This type of ceremony might be considered appropriate if the deceased was a younger person; was employed by a business and was well-known to its employees, or, possibly belonged to a large number of organisations.

Communications

It is now possible, at many crematoria, to have your funeral ceremony taped or videoed, so that you can provide absent members of your family with a copy as a memento. It is also possible to have a photograph of the deceased displayed on a television screen in the Chapel where the ceremony is to be held. These matters should be arranged via your chosen Funeral Director with the Crematorium.