Planning a Meaningful Celebration of Life

Planning a Meaningful Celebration of Life

In the moments after losing someone precious, it can be difficult to imagine managing all of the details necessary to plan an event, but experts agree that it is critical to the grieving process. The Center for Loss believes that a service after the loss of a loved one fulfills the six reconciliation needs of mourning.

Deciding on what type of service is appropriate is a highly personal decision, and we offer guidance on choosing the best end-of-life option. Whether your loved one has chosen whole body donation to science, direct cremation or another option, it’s important to gather as a group and honor the life that was lived. 

Many people express that they prefer their life is celebrated instead of mourned, and a celebration of life is a great opportunity to do just that. As you plan, the most important rule is to make sure the event is a reflection of the person you are honoring. We’re here to share ideas for adding meaning to your loved one’s celebration of life:

Location, Location, Location

When deciding where to host the service, consider your loved one and their interests. A local golf course, favorite restaurant, beloved lake house, or even your own home could all be great options that help offer a more personalized backdrop for the celebration of life. 


The decorations for your event can help tell the story of your loved one’s life and what made them special. For a home baker who fed everyone around them, consider bringing in their well-loved recipe books to display alongside photos of them in the kitchen. A life-long gardener might be best remembered with photos of their garden, home grown flowers and a selection of their favorite plants.  

Involve their Network

The art of sharing history can be a truly cathartic experience. Reach out to the people you knew were closest to your loved one and ask them to send photos, stories or even letters to the person you will be honoring. These can be compiled and shared during the service for all to remember together. 

Determine the Dress Code

While mourners typically wear black to a funeral service, consider a dress code that celebrates your loved one. If your late father was a huge soccer fan, you could invite guests to wear a jersey. If your sister loved colors, invite guests to wear bright, inviting colors to the event. 


Many individuals choose to offer a special keepsake to all guests as a way for them to hold this lost loved one close. A favorite recipe printed on special paper, seed packets for the loved one’s favorite plant, bookmarks with treasured images to remember the book lover, or fishing lures for the fisherman – the options are endless when it comes to celebrating your loved one’s unique life. 


Food has the tendency to bring people together, and this situation isn’t any different. Consider which food and drinks should be offered in this setting. If your husband was huge fan of Chinese takeout, consider catering from his favorite local restaurant. Did your mom have a favorite dessert? Include that in the menu.

Memorial Fundraiser

Many individuals prefer to designate a local charity or cause to support in lieu of flowers or other memorial gifts. This could be a great opportunity to further personalize the celebration of life. You could reach out to your loved one’s favorite charity and ask for details, facts, or materials you can share with attendees at the event. 

No matter how you choose to recognize and honor your loved one’s life, what is most important is that you do. Taking the time to gather together to acknowledge the loss and celebrate all they meant to you in life is the best way to usher in your own grief and healing process.

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