End of Life Celebration Planning
End of Life Celebration Planning

End of Life Celebration Planning

Planning an End-of-Life Celebration: Funeral

Have you ever thought to put together an End of  Life plan? Whether it’s for yourself or a loved one, an end-of-life celebration plan can facilitate the process of arranging a funeral during a difficult time and ensure that your wishes are fulfilled.

ay these ideas serve as a source of inspiration and comfort as you navigate this difficult time. Remember to celebrate the life that was

Although bidding farewell is never uncomplicated, it is crucial to take a moment to pay tribute to and treasure the memories we shared with those who have passed on. A funeral or memorial service should not only be a time of recollection but also a celebration of the unique life that was lived. It is an opportunity to honor the individuality of the person we have lost and to construct a service that embodies their character and interests. We have compiled some celebrations of life ideas to inspire you while organizing a celebration of life for yourself or a loved one.  May these concepts serve as a source of inspiration and solace as you navigate this process.

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For you:

Despite the seemingly melancholic concept, the process of planning one’s own funeral arrangements can provide insights into an individual’s unique personality and serve as a wonderful memorial. Taking a proactive stance also empowers individuals to communicate their aspirations for their legacy, relieving their loved ones of the burden of conjecture during a period of mourning. This considerate gesture allows loved ones to prioritize their own grieving process instead of grappling with the responsibility of orchestrating a fitting funeral, ultimately resulting in a sense of reassurance for all parties involved.

For a loved one:

Losing a loved one can be a traumatic experience. Despite all preparations, the agony of losing someone dear can never be fully erased, leaving a lasting impact on the bereaved.

The initial phase after the loss can be tumultuous, with the added challenge of rebuilding one’s own life while coping with feelings of grief and sorrow. The duration of this process can vary from person to person, with some recovering faster than others.

Five days following my father’s passing, we came together to honor his life through a memorial service. Despite the limited time to prepare, the unwavering support of our loved ones made it possible. (And he had already prepared an End of Life Celebration form)  In organizing the service, we aimed to pay tribute to my father’s exceptional life and the things that brought him happiness, namely his faith,  family, and his passion for family history, gardening, and planes.

Things To Do Right After the Loss Of A Loved One

Contact Funeral Home

One of your first calls should be to the funeral home. A funeral home can help with a variety of services, such as obtaining death certificates and answering questions about Social Security benefits, veterans benefits, and life insurance.

Gather Key Documents & Contact Various Institutions

You will need to contact various institutions to gain access to insurance and other legalities.  You’ll need the following documents to prepare for those conversations:

  • Birth certificates,
  • Death certificate (both certified copies and originals are required;  the funeral home should assist you with this)
  • Marriage certificates,
  • Will,
  • Trust,
  • Financial Power of Attorney,
  • Life insurance policies.


Stay With Loved Ones

You may want to stay with loved ones, such as friends and/or family, or have someone come stay with you. It can be extremely beneficial until you are able to accept and manage your loss. Make an effort not to dismiss your feelings of sadness. 

Your family and friends are undoubtedly grieving as well, and some people find that sharing memories is a helpful way to help one another. Sharing memories of the deceased can help you cope with the loss of someone you loved. So feel free to tell stories about the person who has passed away. If you lament for too long, you may develop symptoms of serious depression and anxiety, both of which are unhealthy. You might be able to get help until you’re able to deal with your grief on your own. The entire family may need time to adjust. It is essential to have open and honest communication.

Let Major Decisions Wait.

Defer major life decisions until you are in a better mood. You don’t want to make a major decision, such as selling your home or quitting your job, while you’re grieving and possibly unable to think clearly. Your top priority right now is to recover from your feelings of loss and get back on track.


How to plan a Celebration of Life ceremony?

You’ve just experienced the death of a loved one. All of the grief can cloud your judgment or overwhelm you as to what you need to do to plan this memorial service for them. What’s the first thing you should do? It’s best to figure out what kind of budget you’re working with first. This will be a deciding factor in the items you choose to include. Then you should start making a list of all the things you want to include in your party. What are some things you’d like to include on your to-do list?

Check out this post: 17 ways to have epic celebrations 


The number of guests who will be present is an important consideration when selecting a venue. Your financial situation will also play a role. Some people have held funerals in their homes or the homes of friends, but if you expect a large crowd, you should consider renting a community center, banquet hall, park, or the beach or check with your church.


Before you can plan the actual program, you must first answer a few key questions. Who will preside over the ceremony? Who will want to say something? What is going to be said?  Many of the celebrations include the following key elements.


A presentation that uses media such as pictures, video, and music to highlight the most important aspects of a person’s life.


This is about narrating the person’s life story.


Poem Readings

Either the deceased favorite poems or poems that describe their life or personality can be recited. Poems about or written by the deceased may also be included.


The program should include whatever you would like it to be. There is no hold-fast rule.  You can tell the person’s life story or eulogy, a schedule of the day’s activities or a ceremony presentation, and a favorite poem, scripture, or song on the back. 

Decoration and Memories

Many things can be included in the funeral event’s decoration, not only for aesthetic purposes but also to share memories.

  • To greet visitors, key photos and a video can be displayed at the entrance. 
  • A table with a guest book can be set up to sign in. You may also want to consider requesting their emails in addition to their names in your sign-in book so that you can send out a digital group thank-you card after the event.
  • A memory table can be placed somewhere in the room to hold personal items about the person, such as
    • stories, and
    • pictures,
    • awards
    • missionary service
    • hobbies
    • creations and art work
    • or other items that convey information about a loved one’s personality
  • You might want to put a basket or box out so friends and family can leave cards.
  • A basket with some index cards for those who want to write about their experience or a memory with a loved one
  • Furthermore, in honor of my father’s love for gardening, we provided visitors with a seed packet that contained seeds from his cherished garden, to plant as a touching way to keep his memory alive.



Flowers are an essential component of any celebration. When it comes to memorial services, many people prefer to have more personalized arrangements. Some florists have created arrangements with pictures as part of the arrangement, or they place things that represent what one loved. Consider the type of flower or colors that were your loved one’s favorite when selecting flowers. Arrangements can be placed at the entrance, on stage, and on the table as table decorations.

You may consider having flower arrangements for:

  • Casket Spray
  • Standing Spray
  • Lid Arrangement
  • Placed at the entrance
  • On Stage
  • Table Decor at luncheon

People will also send flowers so if you would rather not have an abundance of flowers you can request in leiu of flowers to be sent to a charity or something.  There are so many options such as

  • decedent’s favorite charity
  • giver’s favorite charity
  • a nursing facility or hospice
  • a foundation dedicated to cure of a particular disease
  • funding for research or awareness regarding the cause of death
  • donations to the cost of the headstone or funeral expenses

My father had a passion for family history and a love for his town. His grandparents helped settle North Ogden and my dad dedicated alot of his time to building a North Ogden Museum so we asked for donations to go to the funding of continuing to build that.


A common practice observed in many of the funerals I have attended is the provision of a post-funeral meal for the bereaved family. The choice of a buffet-style arrangement is often ideal for such occasions, allowing for easy access to food while standing or eating off one’s lap. It is advisable to consider the specific food preferences of the deceased loved one and incorporate them into the menu. The catering of such events is generally preferred as preparing food for a large crowd can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with the emotional strain that accompanies the loss of a loved one. In the absence of extensive financial resources, a modest spread of snacks and refreshments can suffice. Cakes and cupcakes can be customized into varying shapes and designs to reflect the unique personality of the departed loved one.


The use of background music can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Some people hire professional musicians to play instruments like the guitar, violin, or harp before the ceremony or during the reception. Others have compiled a playlist of songs that were meaningful to the loved one and played them during these moments. Others may hire a DJ and provide a list of songs or artists for the DJ to compile as background music. 

In my Celebration of Life packet, I include a playlist of songs.


What To Do For Someone Who Has Just Lost A Loved One.

It can be difficult to know how to support someone who is grieving after a loss, but you can’t back down because this is someone you care about. Excruciating physical and mental stress, including depression, anger, guilt, and profound sadness, is experienced by the bereaved. People grieve in different ways, and it takes different amounts of time for them to get over their grievances.

It’s natural to be unsure of how to approach a grieving person; you may be afraid of saying the wrong thing or worsening the situation for your loved one at this difficult time. As valid as this emotion is, you must recognize that your loved one requires your assistance in dealing with their dreadful situation. You may not have all the answers to their questions or be able to do everything right, but the most important thing you can do for someone who is grieving is simply to be there. Your presence and support will aid your loved one in coping with the pain and gradually beginning to heal.

Here Are Things You Can Do To Help A Grieving Loved One.

Understand The Grieving Process. 

Providing support to an individual who is grieving after experiencing a loss can be a challenging endeavor. The emotional and physical toll that accompanies bereavement, including depression, anger, guilt, and profound sadness, can be excruciating for the affected party. The grieving process is unique to each individual, and the duration of time it takes to overcome such a loss varies. When faced with such a situation, one may be apprehensive about how to approach and provide assistance to the grieving individual. The fear of saying the wrong thing or aggravating the situation may become a hindrance. However, it is crucial to recognize that the affected party requires and deserves support during such a difficult time.

While it may be impossible to provide all the answers or do everything perfectly, offering a simple presence and support can be incredibly helpful in aiding the grieving person in coping with the pain and gradually beginning the healing process. It is imperative to understand that one’s support can make all the difference in the world to a person in mourning.

Be Careful About What You Say.

You must be careful of what you say to the bereaved in your attempt to console them.  You can help the grieving person by being present and listening compassionately. Simply being present and listening to them can provide a great deal of relief and healing.


Assist In Practical Ways.

It is important to assume that bereaved loved ones do not require assistance simply because they are not requesting it. Grieving individuals may experience a range of limitations, including lack of motivation, depression, loss of appetite, and fear of burdening others, which can impede their ability to seek assistance.

To help overcome these barriers, consider offering specific suggestions that may ease the burden. For instance, you might offer to pick up groceries during a trip to the market or prepare a meal for them, asking when it would be convenient to drop it off. Consistency is key when extending offers of support. Demonstrating a sustained commitment to being present and attentive can help establish trust and alleviate any concerns the grieving individual may have about repeatedly asking for help.

It is worth noting that certain occasions throughout the year, such as holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries, may be particularly challenging for those who are grieving. Keeping this in mind and being proactive in terms of offering support during these times can be very difficult.

Put Together a Care Package

One of the things that I was surprised was so helpful was a package for paper goods. With all the comings and goings it was these little things that we didn’t think we would need that came in handy.

It included:

  • Paper plates
  • Ziplock bags of a few different sizes
  • Paper cups
  • Paper utensils
  • Napkins
  • Paper towels
  • Water bottles
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tissues
  • Hard candies

Another very useful idea was simple finger foods and snacks

  • Croissants
  • Chicken Salad
  • Fruit tray
  • Veggie tray
  • Little deserts



What things have you done to prepare?

What have you found that has been super helpful or comforting when coping with the loss of a loved one?

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