One of the most important parts of a grief journey is finding healing and closure and one can often find it throughout the process of organizing a celebration of life. There is the time-honoured tradition of gathering together to remember and you may find this incredibly cathartic.
However, there are a lot of logistics involved in planning a celebration of life service. Something to consider is working with professionals who specialize in a celebration of life. It can take away some of the stress of the day, leaving you to focus on your guests and honoring your loved one. If you’re ready to plan and looking for unique ways to celebrate a beautiful life, beautifully, then read on for inspirations to help you create a tribute as unforgettable as your loved one; an event filled with details that celebrate who they were and what they loved.
1. Keep Something of Theirs With You
Much like the saying ‘something borrowed and something blue’ when it comes to weddings. You can make a simple and meaningful tribute by wearing something that belonged to your loved one.
Whether it’s a hat, piece of jewelry, or article of clothing, you will have their memory close to you all day. Or perhaps their wristwatch or another item could be something you carry with you always.
2. Team Spirit
If you’ve lost someone who was a sports fan, runner, hiker or watersport enthusiast, consider planning an active event in their honor. Get a group together to meet up and run a mile along a well-loved trail or paddle out to in a group, followed by a gathering where you can join those who may be less active for hot drinks--or beers served from a paddleboard bar--and plenty of shared memories. For those that love to watch sports and are die-hard fans, a perfect send off might be a tailgate party with a dress code: jerseys, caps and plenty of team spirit!
3. Picnic in the Park
Gather in a natural place and celebrate simply. The outdoors is your backdrop! You may want to incorporate candles and fill your tribute with low-impact details and nature-inspired readings. In lieu of flowers, ask friends and family to donate to a green charitable organization. You could print memory cards on floral paper, or as a small remembrance hand out seed packets for folks to plant in memory.
If you live in a spot with a beautiful sunset, why not gather friends and family an hour or so before to share a picnic with stories and songs, then finish with a candle lighting ceremony and a moment of meditation or tributes.
4. A Night at the Theatre
For a theatre, opera or art lover, consider working with a local gallery or community theatre company to host a one-of-a-kind event featuring your loved one’s favorites. Or hire a group of actors or singers to come and perform a piece or two at the celebration of life for a moving tribute. You could even recreate opening night with a red carpet and photographer. Just be mindful of schedules at these venues as they may not be accessible because of their performances.
5. Foodie Lovers
Whether your loved one was a culinary professional, a devoted home baker, or the person who always knew where to get the best pizza or pho, consider building a memorial event around their favourite foods. Host it at their favourite restaurant or hire a food truck to park outside the gathering venue. Potlucks are great for all their homemade favourite dishes. In lieu of flowers you could ask your guests to bring a non-perishable food and give back to a local food bank.
6. The After Party
There are just some people who light up a room and a dance floor! If the one you’re honoring was the life of the party, why not give them the best After Party. Think about live music or hire a DJ. We recently created an After Party at a music venue and had a six-piece Motown band. Whatever genre your loved cut the rug to, honour your loved one with a final playlist.
7. On the Water
If your loved one was someone who loved to sail, kayak, cruise or canoe, a floating tribute might be perfect. Depending on the size of your group, you could charter a boat or have everyone to the cottage on the lake. If you plan to scatter ashes on the water, make sure to confirm local regulations.
Did your loved one have friends from different interest groups or areas? You could choose to honor those interests individually with a smaller gathering for each, held over the course of a year. Eighteen holes with his golf buddies. A memorial picnic with her college friends. Whatever feels right, a select smaller group can give people a chance to share more personally than a bigger gathering will allow, and hosting multiple events may even be helpful in the healing journey, as you’ll hear memories and stories all along the way.
Honoring a loved one doesn't have to be an elaborate event. It's an opportunity for you to remember that unique person and celebrate the love you will always have for them. Together, those who loved the deceased can keep their memory alive and celebrate how your life was enriched by knowing them. Whatever theme or mood you choose, when you plan a celebration of life, make it personal and make it positive. Lift up the beautiful life lived, and honor it with meaningful details throughout.