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What is a Celebration of Life ceremony?

Posted by Debbie Skyrme on Friday 9th August 2019
What is a Celebration of Life ceremony?


What does the phrase ‘Celebration of Life Ceremony’ mean exactly?  

Simply put, it’s a type of funeral ceremony which pays tribute to a loved one, acknowledges their death, but most importantly does what it says on the tin – it celebrates their life, their accomplishments, their achievements, their wins.

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What types of funeral are there?

There are mainly three types of funeral services, which are usually officiated by a religious minister, a humanist, or a celebrant.

A traditional funeral service is normally held in a church or religious building and is officiated by a religious minister.   Some religious ceremonies apply the rules of their religion to the letter, whereas some may be a little more flexible in their interpretation.

Funeral ceremonies that are totally non-religious are often led by a humanist. Funerals led by a celebrant are the most flexible and can be semi-religious in nature, multi-faith or with no religious content at all. 

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What does a celebration of life include?

Personal readings and music

Texts may include any type of poetry, from Shakespeare to Victoria Wood, readings from famous people or an extract from the deceased’s favourite book. Tributes can be read from any friends or relatives that wish to share a story or a special memory of the deceased.  

And popular music of any kind from Rock to Reggae, Classical or Contemporary all make a ceremony more personal.  It all boils down to what will be a true reflection of the personality and life of the deceased.

Stories that make you smile

Laughter and tears both have a place.  A ceremony for someone who loved to laugh and joke would not be a true reflection of them without some humour in it.  And families often comment on how some form of humour lifted the mood a little on their very sad day.

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Where is a celebration of life held?

A Celebration of Life Ceremony is held in a Crematorium or another suitable venue that may have a personal meaning to the deceased and the family, such as the Golf Club where their loved one was a member, a favourite hotel or restaurant - it can even be held at home or in their own garden.

Celebration without time constraints

The Ceremony and the ‘Wake’ are often held at the same venue, which allows a seamless transition and gives the family all the time they want to spend with friends and relatives after the ceremony.  An evening ceremony will mean that those who couldn’t normally attend due to work commitments will most likely be able to come.

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When can you hold a celebration of life?

Families can choose to have the cremation of the body on the same day, or sometimes a few days before the Celebration of Life Ceremony (allowing the mourners to have the ashes of their loved one at the ceremony should they wish).  

They may choose to have only close family present at the ‘committal’ in the crematorium.  Alternatively, they might even choose a ‘direct cremation’ which is held without family members present.  Whatever feels right for them.

A Celebration of Life Ceremony is a way to celebrate the life of a loved one however the family want to, and in a venue that means something to them. 

A celebrant-led ceremony is increasingly popular for those who want freedom of choice and no restrictions as to how they choose to say their farewell.

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Featured celebrant: Sharon Gordon

Featured celebrant: Sharon Gordon

West Midland based celebrant, Sharon Gordon, describes herself as an open-minded, honest, caring and inclusive person who loves to engage with people from all communities, faiths, lifestyles. 

Read Sharon's profile here

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