Guide to Planning a Celebration of Life

Our lives are uniquely ours, and that’s why funerals can be a place where we celebrate how an individual lived.

Passions, hobbies, and even our personality can now be embodied in a funeral. The smallest details can make a funeral just that much more special. From displaying personal photographs, to choosing specific flowers, an individual can feel at peace with how they chose to celebrate the end of their life.

Deciding how you should personalize a service? Here are some questions you can use to help you decide:

  • What did the person like to do?
  • What was the person like as an individual?
  • What was the person like as a professional?
  • Was the person spiritual?
  • Was the person proud of their heritage?

For additional ideas on personalizing a funeral, please contact your funeral director.

What did the person like to do?

Hobbies are our passions, our lives and an activity that makes us who we are. Hobbies give us peace in even the most stressful times. Something that essential to a person should have the opportunity to be showcased during a funeral.

Incorporating a hobby into a funeral service can be as simple as:

  • Displaying items used for their hobby; e.g. sports equipment, gardening tools, or collections.
  • Personalizing the casket or urn with a symbol of their hobby.
  • Displaying trophies or awards they won.
  • Creating a picture board or presentation featuring pictures of them engaged in their hobby.
  • Having someone speak about the person’s passion for the hobby.

By incorporating these or other personal touches to a funeral, the service becomes a reflection of what the individual found passion for in life.

What was the person like as an individual?

Another way that a person may want to celebrate their life is by honoring what made that individual special. Their personality is core to who they were, and their individuality is something that can be brought to life through a funeral service. There are many ways to link the traditional aspects of a funeral service to their individual lives.

For example, an avid cowboy or cowgirl may want to ride off into the sunset one last time. Honoring their last wish can include:

  • Having their saddle and riding equipment displayed
  • Playing western music
  • Having their horse walk in the procession
  • Having a barbecue after the service

Other themes you may want to consider could be:

  • Military honors for a member of the armed forces
  • Tailgate party for a sports enthusiast
  • Harley-Davidson rally for the Harley owner

What was the person like as a professional?

A career is a passion, something that a person dedicated their entire life to working for. Sometimes, a career transforms into something more than just another job. The pride that a person takes in their career is an aspect that can be incorporated into a funeral service with just the simplest of details.

Following are a couple examples of how you could incorporate a career into a service.

For a teacher:

  • Have the choir or band from the school perform during the visitation or service.
  • Encourage students to write essays about the person, which could be displayed.
  • Invite a past student to speak at the service.

For a fire person/police officer:

  • Incorporate any honors or traditions that their department has established.
  • Use fire trucks or police vehicles in the procession.
  • Have bagpipers play at the visitation or service.
  • Display their uniform and equipment.

Was the person spiritual?

Often, a person’s spiritual beliefs were an essential part of who they were and how they lived. Whether it be organized religion, or personal beliefs, there is a strong sense of spirituality in almost everyone. When planning for a funeral service, including the sense of spirituality from the individual may make their funeral that much more special.

Following are ideas on spirituality can be incorporated into a funeral service:

  • Hold the service at the person’s parish or religious facility.
  • Have someone read excerpts from a key religious publication (i.e. Bible, Koran, etc).
  • Decorate the funeral home with symbols of the person’s faith.
  • Have the person’s cremated remains scattered at a place of spiritual significance to them.
  • Read a prayer that embodies their key beliefs.
  • Include sacred music from the religion in the service.