Is There a Difference Between a Funeral and a Celebration of Life?

The term Celebration of Life is a relatively new phrase.  It can mean many things since we celebrate many aspects of our lives (births, marriages, baptisms, retirement, etc.).

With regard, specifically to death, we have traditionally processed that event with a funeral, typically held at a church or the funeral home chapel.  In a funeral, we normally reflect on the loss of this person and grieve that we will no longer physically have them in our lives.

However, with customs changing, and a departure from traditional practices, such as funerals, we are left with re-defining how to honor our loved ones.

Direct cremation, which I have been told is performed only in the states, I believe, has partially brought about the transition from Funerals to Celebration of Life services.  Direct cremation is a term used to describe utilizing only the cremation services of a funeral home or cremation society to the extent that they remove our loved one from their place of death, cremate the body, and return the cremated remains to the family.  Thereby a service may be by-passed or delayed.  Instead of a traditional funeral, which usually occurs within a few days, a service can be scheduled at a future date convenient for all family members.

The difference between a Funeral and a Celebration of Life service can be that there is no difference, because whichever is selected, we are celebrating the life of our deceased loved one.  However, some believe the biggest difference may be that in a Celebration of Life service,  we are embracing the deceased loved one’s life rather than focusing on their death.  This can bring great comfort to survivors and give us time to be surrounded by those who love us and who loved the deceased.

When planning for our death, regardless of our final choice for disposition (earth burial or cremation), make a plan for what would be a meaningful service for your survivors.  Take time to help your family fulfill your wishes by leading them in a direction that would be a greater reflection on your life.  Record what mattered, give them a path to follow.  Your planning may be your lasting gift to them.

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