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Holding a Celebration of Life Party to Memorialize a Loved One

“Do not complain about growing old. It is a privilege denied to many.” – Mark Twain.

The above quote, for some, is profoundly moving and inspiring. It reminds us that life can feel so surprisingly short as we age or that it can be incredibly fragile, snuffed out like a candle flame too soon. For many of us, too, the subject of death and end-of-life can be so overwhelming and emotionally upsetting that we may never wish to think of it, to be reminded of the inevitable. And yet, the very act of living a long life should be an accomplishment to celebrate and take joy in.

Decades of memories, of joy, or downs and ups, wins and losses, love, and laughter deserve to be held within our hearts alongside the immense sorrow of understanding loss when those we love pass.

Like death, that jumble of intense emotions we feel when we grieve, no matter what they are, are entirely natural. Natural, however, does not always mean it must make sense or take a prescribed path. Grief is never linear. Many find themselves remembering something silly a loved one did that makes them begin to laugh, while that laughter is tinged with the sadness of the space they leave in our lives, and the tears often come even amid that laughter.

Your memorial for your lost loved one does not need to be a solemn occasion should you feel that it would not suit your dearly departed. Many turn toward celebrating the long and fulfilling lives of those they love by turning it into a tearful yet joyful party gathering to remember them.

In some cases, a loved one who knows and understands they are near the end of their time may even request a celebration of life party while they are still here, which is not only a tremendous step in accepting and understanding end-of-life but a valid and fantastic means for those who will be left behind to tell their loved one anything they wish them to know while grieving and rejoicing at the same time.

If this speaks to you or your loved one has asked to celebrate a life party, we hope sharing a few ideas will inspire and comfort you during this challenging time.

What is a Celebration of Life Party?

A celebration of life party is an event that can be thrown by friends and family, allowing surviving family and guests to say goodbye, share memories, and find closure in their grieving process, which can begin the critical healing process. In its primary sense, it is an end-of-life ceremony or party held to honor someone’s life rather than only focusing on and remembering their death.

Although it is a celebration, there may be a few familiar traditional funerary rituals or elements, such as readings of a departed loved one’s favorite religious passages, poems, or quotes, a dress code (formal or informal), or it may not have any of these things at all. The celebration can be as unique and varied as our hobbies and personalities.

How Can I Memorialize A Loved One With a Celebration of Life Party?

The first step to organizing a celebration of life party is planning. However, we understand how difficult it can be to plan such occasions independently, so do not hesitate to contact friends and family members for help and ideas.

Here is a helpful breakdown to hopefully inspire and become a starting point.

Focus Your Ideas and Mind on The Mourners

A celebration of life party is to celebrate the life and memories of your loved one, and like traditional funerals, this celebration helps family friends, and you say goodbye to start the healing process. First, focus on what you and the mourners may want and what activities or hobbies you believe are connected to the departed loved one that will help rouse the best memories.

Ask for Ideas and Input from Close Friends and Family

Not only can you and your loved one’s closest inner circle of friends and family help you come up with ideas and suggestions, but including them is a fantastic means to help everyone seek comfort and closure in the planning process. Discuss the details of the event, or what you want to do, where it will be, and welcome their suggestions as well. Like you, they, too, are grieving and want to help in any way they can.

In addition to ideas, ask for input on convenient dates before setting one in stone. There’s no rule as to when to set a date; you may choose a celebration of life while a loved one is still with you, immediately after their passing, or weeks or months after.

Set Your Budget

Deciding on a budget most frequently leads to assisting you in determining whether to hold it at a venue, hall, community space, or even in your backyard.

Who to Invite?

Traditional funerals and funeral services are often open to the public, but you may wish to limit a celebration of life to close friends, colleagues, and family.

Ideas for Celebration of Life

If you are struggling to come up with ideas or are seeking more, here are a few unique ideas to get you started:

  • Host a campfire/camping theme gathering for a loved one who adores the outdoors
  • Host an open mic or karaoke night for a loved one who loves music
  • Create a tribute movie made of clips of your loved one to show to guests
  • Plant or create a memorial garden together
  • Release memorial lanterns
  • If your loved one is fond of sports or games, organize a family and friends games night and play their favorite game or games.
  • Throw a potluck, asking friends and family to cook the loved one’s favorite dishes they enjoyed making and share them.

Author Barbara Kingsolver once wrote, “To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know.” This reflection on life is at the heart of any Celebration of Life party, a moment to tell the story of the deceased or the loved ones we’ve lost. Whichever you choose, a Celebration of Life party is a time to come together and celebrate the unique personality and achievements of the one so dearly loved and lost; there is room for tears, laughter, and creativity, and it can be anything you wish it to be.

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