What do you think of when you think of attending a funeral? Chances are, you think of a sombre affair with black clothing, hearses, and subdued hymns…
Well, what if I told you the role of the funeral is changing and instead of looking ahead to the afterlife, progressively more Brits are now opting to rejoice in happy memories of the deceased’s triumphs, hobbies and favourite songs? And this new wave of ‘modernised’ funerals has been termed by the funeral industry as “a celebration of life”. Crazy, huh.
What is a celebration of life?
Although many people still prefer the sombre nobility of a traditional funeral, a celebration of life is an alternative way of saying goodbye to a loved one that places great emphasis on celebrating the deceased’s life and achievements, rather than mourning their loss.
27% of Brits wish to buck the downhearted, morbid affair in favour of a light-hearted celebration of life. With 33% saying that they would want their funeral to be a reflection of their cultural interests (music, readings, speeches, etc.)
There are no formal arrangements or traditional procedures as events are specifically tailored to the deceased or the wishes of their loved one. Therefore, when attending a celebration of life, you’re more likely to hear Monty Python’s Always Look On The Bright Side of Life – according to a 2014 survey, the most popular song played at UK funerals – than Verdi’s Requiem.
There are endless ways to make a celebration of life not just a joyful and positive experience, but a personalised way to say goodbye. Here are just a few ideas that you can incorporate into your prepaid funeral plan to ensure your send-off is a jubilant tribute to your time on earth:
Ditch the black
One of the most common elements of a celebration of life is the decision to ditch the traditional mourning colours for something a tad brighter.
There are lots of ways you can incorporate colour into your service from choosing floral tributes in your favourite colours, to asking mourners to wear colourful attire, to opting for a brightly-coloured hearse. Whether you stick to a specific colour scheme or go for an all-in rainbow approach, colourful funerals are becoming increasingly popular.
Another popular trend for celebrating a life is the sharing of photos and memories as a special tribute. By sharing precious moments, guests can focus on the happy times rather than the prevailing grief.
There are many ways to share memories, from a basic guestbook where mourners can record their fond memories, to more creative ideas like a photo collage, memory table or a slide viewing.
Book a DJ
Funeral wakes aren’t always the sombre, quiet affairs they once were. The rise of music and dancing at funerals has given mourners a fun way to pay tribute to the deceased.
Specialist funeral DJs are available to hire around the UK, offering their services for celebrations of life, allowing loved ones to take to the dancefloor as a fitting way to remember those who loved to sing and dance.
The releasing of balloons is certainly a non-traditional way of saying goodbye, but the send-off has grown in popularity, particularly with children. The sight of colourful balloons in the sky can be both touching and uplifting.
If you’re worried about the environmental impact of a balloon release, make sure you state the use of biodegradable balloons with no strings attached, as string can be hazardous to wildlife.
Light up the sky
Families using fireworks to celebrate a loved one’s life is becoming increasingly more common. So why not opt for a dazzling firework display to end the perfect send-off?
Some people take it a step further, by filling the fireworks with cremation ashes for the most spectacular scattering ceremony imaginable.
Hand out gifts
Mourners attend a celebration of life ceremony to pay respect and give thanks to the deceased for what they gave them, whether that be friendship, love, or a helping hand. Handing out gifts to your loved ones left behind may be the perfect way to say goodbye.
Some decided to hand out seed packets so mourners can grow flowers in their memory, with Forget-me-nots being the most common option. Avid readers have been known to hand out books. Another idea would be to repurpose your funeral flower arrangements to allow mourners to take home a small posy to remember you by.
Ask for donations
It’s a popular option to request memorial donations for a specific cause or charity in lieu of flowers. By asking for donations, your memory can be used for the greater good. When requesting for donations, ensure you have clearly listed the cause or charity in your prepaid plan.