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Celebration of Life vs. Funeral

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In Western culture, somber traditional funerals have typically been the most popular way to say goodbye to loved ones. Recent trends show that some people are choosing to say goodbye with a celebration of life service instead. If you are looking for a more personal way to say goodbye – or to plan your own final disposition – here’s what you need to know about organizing a celebration of life.

What Is a Celebration of Life Program?

A celebration of life program is an event that celebrates the life of the deceased. And while most memorial services claim to do the same thing, a celebration of life is different in that it tends to be more joyous and uplifting than traditional services. The focus is on the joy and happiness that resulted from the deceased’s life and not on the fact that he or she is missed.

When looking for celebration of life ideas, it’s important to keep the life of the deceased in mind, as well as those who will attend the event. For instance, did the deceased love the beach and margaritas? If so, a tropical-themed celebration that includes their favorite beverage would be a great way to celebrate and remember their life.

Here are some other ideas when planning this type of ceremony:

  • Color themes. Did your loved one love pink? Ask all attendees to wear something pink to help them remember their favorite color.
  • Potluck: Hold a potluck and ask the attendees to bring one of the deceased’s favorite dishes.
  • Music: If the deceased loved music, hold a gathering where all of their favorite music is played.
  • Send off: If you want to pinpoint a moment when you say goodbye, think about using lighted lanterns in a body of water, fireworks, or balloons with special messages inside of them.

As you can see, a celebration of life is a personal event – no two programs will be the same. The gathering should be planned around the likes of the deceased while keeping the attendees in mind. What will they need to truly celebrate the life of the one they lost? For instance, if you are holding the ceremony for the people closest to the deceased, would it be beneficial for each of them to tell a story about how the deceased touched their lives? Or would it provide more closure for them to write a poem about them and read it aloud? You can guess what the attendees need or you can ask for input when planning the celebration so everyone will feel that their needs are being met. Whatever you decide, it’s best to let attendees know what to expect – and what (if anything) is expected of them.

In addition to the theme, you will want to plan activities that help the attendees remember the deceased. You can plan for scripture readings, poetry, celebration of life quotes specific to their life, or ask each attendee to tell a story about the deceased that causes others to celebrate their life.

You might be wondering about the ideal celebration of life attire/dress code. That too is specific to the type of event you are planning. For instance, if your celebration is a happy yet formal gathering where attendees will read scripture, you may want to dress in traditional funeral attire. On the other hand, if your celebration will take place at the deceased’s most loved fishing spot, more casual attire would be appropriate. If you’ve been invited to a celebration of life ceremony, the invitation should give you an idea of the attire. If not, ask the hosts what would be appropriate.

How Does a Celebration of Life Program Differ From a Traditional Funeral?

A celebration of life program is different from a traditional funeral in two main ways. First, it focuses on the good of the deceased person's life and not on how much they are missed. That means that, while attendees may still be sad that their loved one is no longer with them, they will focus on all the good that came from their lives.

Secondly, a celebration of life does not include a body like a funeral does. Some people will include the cremated remains of their loved ones in a special urn that shows off their personality, but for the most part, the celebration is separate from any burial or cremation memorial.

Can You Have Both a Traditional Funeral and a Celebration of Life Service?

A traditional funeral and a celebration of life service have two distinct goals: a funeral is for paying respect and mourning the loss of a loved one, while a celebration of life service is for celebrating all the good that came from someone’s life. So, it makes sense that many people decide to hold both types of ceremonies.

For many, they begin with a funeral to start the grieving process. But as time goes on and they come to terms with the loss, they may plan a celebration of life ceremony and experience a more uplifting type of event that helps them say goodbye.

As you can see, it may make sense for some people to hold both a traditional funeral and a celebration of life ceremony.

How Can Final Expense Insurance Help With My Celebration of Life Program?

Depending on the type of ceremony you plan, the costs could quickly rise. In fact, the celebration of life costs for some services can rival those of a traditional funeral. Whether you are planning your own ceremony or you are planning one for a loved one, it makes sense to get all the help you can to help pay for it.

That’s where funeral insurance, also known as final expense insurance, comes into play. This type of policy has a lower face value than traditional life insurance policies because it is designed to help pay for final expenses such as a celebration of life service, cremation, memorial service, or a funeral. The funds can also be used to help pay for any outstanding debt or expenses. The policies are typically about $20,000 and work differently from other types of life insurance.

For example, a final expense insurance policy typically pays out in about 24 hours – compared to the weeks or months it takes for a traditional life insurance policy to issue a check to the beneficiaries. You will also get a 30-day free look period, which means you will have 30 days after receiving the policy to look it over and decide whether or not to keep it.

Ready to Start Planning? Here’s How to Start

If you want to know more or find out how much this type of burial insurance costs, simply go to the Lincoln Heritage website where you can get details and a free quote.