A Celebration Of Life

What is a Celebration of Life?

After the loss of someone who is given a proper funeral, attendees can also experience the celebration of life. Although this isn’t too far from what most people consider to be a classic wake service, many differences separate these two events. Here is a better understanding of what a celebration of life is all about.

Celebration of life Vs funeral

A funeral service can be very formal and structured, so the aspect of religious respect and traditions are upheld for the family of the deceased. Even though funerals are held for immediate family and friends, they are smaller gatherings that include select reading and prayers. There is also a resolution and benediction that are provided by the members of the church who are providing religious guidance for those who are grieving. For more information on resolutions and benedictions, check out this post.

The celebration of life is a separate event that is held after a funeral where those who are part of the funeral service can be joined by others who wish to pay their respect to someone who has passed. The focus is for everyone to express their feeling in a place that helps to celebrate the memory of those who have recently died. It does depend on how the family or organizers want to host this event, but unlike a wake, this event is open to acquaintances, friends, and family and happens after all services have finished.

How do you decorate for a celebration of life?

As mentioned before, this type of event is more relaxed and can have simple décor that is respectful, but never party-like unless this is what was made as a last request by the deceased. This event may not actually need to be held on the same day as the funeral and can be organized to happen a day or two later. This gives families and relatives time to put together this celebration event after funeral services and burials have already occurred.

Food and drink can be provided and to some extent, ambient music is requested to keep the spirits high. Because this is a celebration of a person who has passed, the whole idea is to come together and relive their stories through physical human interaction. Some celebrations of life also include entertainment that’s dedicated to those who have passed that’s been previously arranged within a ‘Last Will’ as a final wish for close friends, associates, and immediate family.

There is no specific template for how a celebration of life should be planned. Try to highlight hobbies or interest of the deceased into your décor.

What happens at a celebration of life?

While this type of affair isn’t compared to your average party, the concept is very simple and open to interpretation. Everyone will have their own ideas of what a celebration of life should mean unless the family who is hosting this celebration is requesting specific ground rules. There can be plenty of reading or moments where family and friends provide stories about the deceased within an informal setting.

It also gives those who only knew a person who passed away for a short time to connect with others who knew them better. It can be a very positive and healing experience for anyone who is not very comfortable with the concept of dying. The achievements and personality of someone deceased are given further respect by those who may not be religious or follow the same religion as they did when attending a celebration of life event.

Do you bring gifts/donations/flowers to a celebration of life?

Since this is not a requirement, showing respect is not about bringing a gift or donation unless there is an obligation that has deep meaning to you. Flowers are always accepted at this kind of celebration since flowers are universally appealing and beautiful. If there has been some kind of hardship or financial burden for a spouse, then it’s not uncommon for donations of all kinds to be offered out of respect.

These can be offered in the form of cash, checks, cashier’s checks, and even gift cards. Anything that is offered to the surviving member of a family cannot be considered unwanted since everyone understands that funeral services can be financially difficult. When it comes to physical gifts, these are also not uncommon if they come from those who are paying respect to that family. These gifts are always about sharing part of their memory of that person. Here are a few gift ideas to bring to a celebration of life:

Favorite food , snacks, or candies of the deceased
Pictures of loved one to share that others may not have
Create a slideshow (Great way to start conversations)
Deceased favorite flower or color of flower (paid link)
Décor that highlights the deceased hobbies or interest

What is a committal at a funeral?

The committal is the last part of a funeral where a casket is then taken to the cemetery. This is called the funeral procession and often involves many vehicles that accompany the funeral hearse to the burial area. There is often a short service where the casket is lowered into the ground and the final prayers are then given for those being buried at the cemetery. A similar service is also provided for those who have been cremated or are being interred. Learn more about internment in this post.

This is where someone is placed into a tomb where one or more family members are also interred. If you’ve ever seen a funeral procession before, this is a respectful precession that is meant to be the final journey of those who have passed to their final resting place. This is why local police will often ensure and allow traffic to stop while a procession passed through specific city streets on the way to the cemetery. We take a look at the funeral procession in this post.

What is the difference between burial and committal service?

As we all know, death is not an easy topic to talk about, so the difference in language has been created to lessen the pain involved. A burial is specifically the action or occasion where those who have died are placed into the ground or into a tomb. In recent years, it’s more common to hear that a burial is also called a committal. In a nutshell, it’s also called graveside service, but with a respectful tone.

It can be applied for all kinds of burial services where ashes are released, or a casket is buried or placed into a tomb. These services are different than those that are held in a church since they can include a variety of final prayers from a variety of different faiths.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we may receive compensation at no additional cost to you.


Readinform is a Wisconsin based writer for funerals explained. They have come to understand the struggles of death and loss. Through life experience they have gathered the knowledge to help others and answer questions related to the funeral industry. When not writing readyinform focuses on learning new things and exploring the differences society offers.

Recent Posts