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Life Celebration Etiquette

Published: February 8, 2022

As nontraditional funerals become more popular, you might have questions about the proper etiquette for services you’ve been invited to attend. If you’ve never attended a celebration of life service before, it can certainly be daunting to prepare for an event when you don’t know what to expect. While many of these types of services are unique, there are many commonalities in what to expect and how to prepare. Here, the experts at Evans Funeral Chapel will answer your questions and outline a guide for etiquette at celebration of life services, one of the most common nontraditional funerals.

What is a celebration of life?

A celebration of life is a service or event where people come together to celebrate a loved one’s life and legacy. The reasoning is similar to that of a funeral, but the execution of the events are often quite different. While funerals are typically somber events, life celebrations are likely a lighter and more joyous event. The celebration will sometimes take on a party-like atmosphere in place of a funeral, or will be after the funeral as a more uplifting reception. In any case, the focus of such events aims to acknowledge the grieving of the loved ones, but to offer a space to reminisce on happy memories of the deceased.

What happens at a life celebration?

Since life celebrations are focused on remembering the joy and happy moments of a person’s life, the components of the event lend themselves to such a purpose. Because this service falls under the nontraditional service umbrella, it is largely up to the planners of the event to design the components to meet their needs. However, a typical celebration of life is structured to include several common elements, including an initial gathering, food and drinks, a toast and speeches, and a group activity for sharing memories of the deceased. There might also be a slideshow or video, a candlelight service, or singalong.No matter what activities or events occur in the service, they all aim to offer friends and family of the deceased an opportunity to look back fondly on their loved one and honor their life in a more joyful way than a traditional funeral allows.

What is the proper etiquette for a guest at a celebration of life service?

If you have never attended a life celebration service before, it can be confusing to predict what the proper attendance etiquette entails. Ultimately, while not all celebration of life services are the same, the general rule is to prepare for the service the way you would a traditional funeral: arrive a few minutes early, pay your respects to the family, sign the guestbook, and attend the reception. Beyond that, try to follow the expectations of the hosts and prepare for an experience unlike that of most other services you might have attended.

Check out the guide below for a few helpful hints on how to dress and what to bring, and how to participate.

How to Dress

To choose an outfit for a celebration of life service, you will have to weigh a number of factors about the service, including the location, hour of the day, and activities planned. Typically, attire will be more casual than for a traditional service, and many choose to forgo black for colorful clothing. For some services, there will be a specified dress code, in which case you should adhere to the guidelines offered. No matter what you choose to wear, be sure to dress modestly, which is the only real rule for dressing for this type of memorial. When choosing your outfit for the service, just try to keep to the theme and mood, and dress modestly and respectfully.

What to Bring

Many guests want to bring something to a celebration of life ceremony, but are unsure of what exactly to bring. If you are looking for a gift to bring, consider the following options to symbolize your love and support for the loved ones of the deceased:

- Offer sympathy or condolence cards to the hosts of the service

- Make a donation to a charity or cause the deceased was affiliated with or passionate about

- Send a meal, fruit basket, or bouquet of colorful flowers to the home of the family

- Find a gift that commemorates the deceased that relates to their interests or hobbies

Whatever you choose to offer, gifts that offer the loved ones comfort and warmth are often the most appreciated.

How to Participate

Celebration of life services are typically much more interactive than traditional funerals. While at the life celebration, feel free to participate in any group activities, such as sharing memories, singing, or toasts. Consider bringing pictures of the deceased or making a speech, should the service allow for it. When in doubt, just follow the lead of other guests and the host’s wishes.

Contact Evans Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services

Whether you want to know more about attending a celebration of life service or are looking to plan a life celebration, it can help to talk to an expert. For more information, contact our team at Evans Funeral Chapel & Cremation Services at any time of day, any day of the week. To reach our team, contact us online or call (410) 665-9444.

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