How Will You Celebrate Your Good Life?

A celebration-of life service or gathering is an event that is typically more informal and can vary widely in style and tone

Celebration of Life Service

“Life is what you celebrate. All of it. Even its end.” -Joanne Harris, Chocolat

There are several options to consider when determining the right funeral service for your loved one. In fact, you may have noticed there’s been a cultural shift over the years in the way we treat end-of-life ceremonies. The style of service a family may choose can be as unique as each individual person. While some people prefer a more traditional service, others may wish to focus on things their loved one found significant or joyful. This is often referred to as a Celebration-of-Life service or a Life Celebration Gathering. Our funeral directors at Roper & Sons in Lincoln, Nebraska, will assist you to ensure that the event encompasses all of the details you want included.

Celebration-of-Life vs. Memorial Service

Many times, the personality of your loved one may influence the type of service you choose to have. Maybe you’re saying goodbye to someone who’ll be remembered by their zest for life and abundantly joyful spirit. Maybe he or she had expressed years before that they didn’t want a sorrowful day in their honor. Although sadness or feelings of missing your loved one can still be present, the style of service can guide the tone of the gathering.

A celebration-of-life service and a memorial service can have similar aspects, however a memorial service is typically understood to be more rooted in tradition. A memorial service most often includes some type of ritual or ceremony, such as a eulogy, prayers, music and hymns, and a reading of the deceased person’s favorite poem or scripture. It is not always religious and can be held in a church or other gathering place, but is typically led by a member of the clergy or some other person the family has chosen to guide the ceremony.

On the other hand, a celebration-of-life service or gathering is an event that is typically more informal and can vary widely in style and tone. It focuses on celebrating the person’s life, their accomplishments, hobbies, passions, and sharing memories. Even with this kind of service, attendees will still feel loss and grief and may share stories that mingle laughter with tears. Celebration-of-life gatherings have become increasingly popular and our funeral directors and creative team at Roper & Sons will help you honor your loved one every step of the way.

Make the Celebration-of-Life Service Unique

Families can have a lot of freedom in putting together a celebration-of-life service. Your service should be as unique and amazing as your loved one was in life. It’s all about celebrating the individual, and that means paying tribute to the kind of person they were. The following are a few tips when planning your celebration gathering.

Choose a Date and Location

Because a celebration of life is often not connected to a burial, there can be more flexibility on how quickly the service must be held. If there is a very specific venue the gathering will be held, the availability of that space will dictate the date possibilities. Another main consideration is trying to accommodate the schedules of the family and friends that will be attending or involved in the service. Allowing travel time for those who live farther away is also a common consideration.

A celebration-of-life service can be held at any venue including the funeral home, a church or synagogue, a community event center, an institution where your loved one dedicated much of their time and energy, or even someplace as casual as a private home or a public park. A lot depends on the number of people who you anticipate attending.

Roper & Sons has several beautiful spaces throughout our multiple locations that are designed to accommodate many styles and gathering set-ups. We specialize in helping you design a space that is appropriate for small, intimate gatherings as well as much larger gatherings. We can customize seating arrangements, catering options, and provide appropriate set-ups for those speaking or offering live music.

Select a “Style”

As has been stated, celebration-of-life gatherings can vary greatly. It is helpful to start by deciding what “style” of gathering is best for you and your family. Some gatherings can be as unstructured as an “open house” style. These gatherings typically have a starting and ending time, providing an open event for friends and family to gather and share stories. Because there is no rigid start time, this style can be helpful for those trying to accommodate challenging schedules.

Other gatherings may have a specific start time with planned speakers or music or other events. These events have a coordinated schedule and can be beautifully crafted. Establishing the style of gathering you desire is important before finalizing any plans such as food and drink, seating arrangements, music selection, and other details.

Share Stories

Sharing stories is the perfect way to carry on the memory of your loved one for years to come. Whether it makes people laugh or makes them cry, sharing memories together can offer hope and healing. In the event invitation or newspaper obituary, you can request that people reflect on some of their favorite memories and share them during the celebration. If it is not best to have an open invitation to share stories during the service, you may consider providing notecards that people can write their stories or memories. These can be collected and enjoyed by family and friends long after the event.

Favorite Songs

Music can be a powerful tool of healing and can bring you back to some special memories. You may want to create a playlist of your loved one’s favorite songs to play at the celebration and share with others afterwards. Many streaming services provide easy ways for you to create and share dedicated playlists. Some even allow an open format that can allow others to contribute to the playlist and add songs they know their loved one enjoyed.

Sometimes arranging live musicians is a wonderful way to celebrate the life of a loved one. Whether family or friends prepare the music or professionals are hired, this can be a great option for creating a vibrant energy at the gathering. While this is a popular choice at many celebration gatherings, it’s important to make sure the venue can accommodate the needs of the musicians.

Staging Photos and Other Memorabilia for your Celebration-of-Life Service

Displaying photos and various memorabilia of your loved one at the celebration is a wonderful way to share with those in attendance. Ask family and friends to provide you with photos by creating an online group folder where they can upload photos. Have framed photos of various sizes and include ones from an early age through adult life, making sure that images of family and friends are part of the display.

Organize memorabilia by groupings and display them in various locations throughout the room. From objects that represent your loved one’s hobbies, to military honors and awards for career achievements, to organizations he or she was involved in, these should all be prominently grouped and visible so attendees can connect with how they knew the deceased. Our funeral directors have helped design visual displays for many families whose loved ones traveled unique walks of life. We are honored to help you create something that is special for your loved one.

Roper & Sons in Lincoln, Nebraska, is ready to help you create a very memorable celebration-of-life service for your loved one. If you would like to preplan your celebration-of-life event now rather than leave it to your family and friends, call 402-476-1225 and speak with one of our Family Service Counselors.

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