Personalized Celebration of Life Ideas

When a loved one passes away, it is natural to begin planning a funeral. Funerals are an acknowledgment of the passing of a loved one, an act of "letting go" that family and close friends can support each other through. As necessary as these moments of "letting go" may seem to some, a Celebration of Life service is another way that family and friends can gather to acknowledge the life that their loved one lead. This can be an event, trip, or call to action that is personal to your loved one and their hobbies, talents, or passions. Here are some creative ways to honor and remember a loved one's life:

1. A Themed Dinner

Food is one of the great uniting factors of the human race. Families gather around a table to eat dinner, discuss their day, and plan for the future. If your family is one of these, maybe a themed dinner featuring your loved one's favorite foods would be a good way to honor their life. A family gathering to eat, drink, and tells their favorite stories of your loved one is not only a traditional call back to a simpler time, but a fantastic way to create new memories with those in attendance.

2. A Themed Night or Trip

Keep your loved one's hobbies and passions in mind for this option, other than food, of course. Examples of this are:

  • Was your loved one an avid reader? Take the family to the local library for a silent reading hour, or sit down with their favorite book at home and read a passage aloud or quietly to yourselves.
  • How about a loved one with a large collection of board or video games? Host a game night to remember those moments of revelry and competitive love shared between family and friends.
  • We all know a cinefile, someone with an passion for movies. Whether it be a romantic comedy, family drama, horror, animated, or documentary, host a movie night so loved ones can gather around a warm screen with popcorn, or take everyone out to the local theater for a night under the stars. 
  • Was your loved one into sports or just generally athletic? Attend a sporting event for your loved one's favorite team, or organize a local game with friends and family.
  • Maybe your loved one was passionate about animals or the environment. Organize a family trip to the zoo, aquarium, or visit a beaches tide pools, or a park's aviary or botanical garden.
  • If your loved one was a talented artist or musician, host a painting party or organize a memorial concert to remember their life. Alternatively, if your loved one was theatrical, you may make a family trip to a performing art's center to see a play or musical that was a particular favorite.

3. Donate to a Cause or Local Charity in their Name

If your family and friends are spread out and it is difficult to organize an in-person trip or event, you and they could donate to a cause that was close to your loved one's heart. Pick a charity that will accept monitary donations or items, and spread the love you had for your loved one to something they were passionate about. Donating old clothes, toys, or food to those in need is a fantastic way to make sure your loved one's items are honored. You can also theme your donations to something or somewhere in line with your loved one's passions.

  • Donate to a library for an avid reader, or volunteer there.
  • If your loved one was a teacher, donate to their school, district, or offer to help out for school events.
  • Conservatories and parks are a great place to donate to honor a loved one who treasured nature.
  • If there was a medical issue your loved one was aware of, or dealt with in their lives, there may be a research group or charity that is dedicated to this very issue that could use money, time, or items to improve the lives of others. 

Not every family is fortunate enough to be able to devote time or donate money to these types of charities or organizations, but there are plenty of resources that can allow the entire extended family or friends, near or far, to help out. GoFundMe is one such resource, and if you have a project in mind to honor your loved one, Kickstarter is an option as well.

4. For the athletically-minded, there are runs, obstacle courses, or other physical activities to participate in to honor your loved one's life. "Fun-Runs" can be organized by a variety of hosts, and can be applicable to all friends and family. There are also awareness or research-based sponsored runs for those who would like to dedicate their time to a particular ailment or issue that was important to or effected your loved one's life.

5. Create a loved-one-themed scrapbook, memory box/time capsule, or photo album. Gather the family together and share photos, memories, or items from times that you shared with your loved one and create a collection of memories that everyone has shared. This could be a chance for some great quality time shared between your loved one and all of the lives they touched, and a great way for everyone to discover even more depth in their connections with not only their loved one, but each other as well.

Remember that our loved ones are as unique and precious as stars in the sky, and each and every connection is different and meaningful. Make sure to choose something that not only helps your family to remember your loved one, but that helps you all to remember and value each other's time and memories as well. Keep their memory alive through the connections of the past, and all of the future memories to be made as well.

Best Regards,

The Close by Me Family