17 Photos of Epic Celebrations of Life To Inspire Your Next Funeral Service

A funeral service isn’t just about remembering the life that was lived.

It’s about CELEBRATING the life that was lived.

And what better way to celebrate someone, than by holding a funeral service that is as unique as their life?

We love collecting our favorite celebrations of life to keep us inspired at funeralOne, and today we’re going to share with you some of our favorites.

As you scroll, we invite you to think about how you can create a celebration of life just as personal, unique, meaningful or beautiful as these 17 ideas.

You never know…one of them might spark an idea for your next funeral service. Either way, watch them, read them, take them in. And most importantly, enjoy the inspiration:


1. “No Tear Zone”

This “No Tear Zone” sign was created for a woman’s life who was known as the “life of the party”. She requested that the scene of her funeral was a little different than the norm. She wanted laughs and memories being shared, rather than the usual tears. This sign served as a beautiful invitation for everyone to come together to celebrate the story of a wonderful life, which is what a funeral is truly about.


2. A new kind of funeral guidelines

After a newly widowed woman decided she didn’t appreciate her religious family members telling saying that her deceased husband was “in a better place,” she wanted to make a sign for them. Although many of the friends of the widow thought she was just kidding, attendees of the funeral were surprised and delighted to see this sign at her husband’s funeral.


3. One last strike

Pray Funeral Home wanted to help a client family celebrate their loved one in a way that was meaningful and unique to him. So, for this avid pool playing, bowling, golf shooting, Michigan State University Fan, they set up a pool table, bowling pins, a putting green and memorabilia of his favorite team throughout the funeral service. This allowed guests to play some of the loved one’s favorite games and enjoy his favorite pastimes in honor of him.

Our favorite element of the service is when the brother of the loved one bowled one last perfect strike for him, which they affectionately called “Drew’s Last Strike”. And as the pins fell, family and friends erupted into long lasting applause and cheers. Now that’s a celebration of life!

Source: Pray Funeral Home


4. A theatrical memorial

When Barb, a teacher at a performing arts center passed away, her family, friends and co-workers put together a beautiful production rather than an average funeral service. The services featured different “acts” and even included a performance by a jazz quintet who serenaded Barb in her final resting place.


5. The sweetest goodbye

An ice cream truck driver invites his funeral guests to enjoy one last treat on him. Talk about a simply sweet way to go. We love this idea because who can not celebrate a life while eating ice cream?

Source: NY Times


6. When art meets mourning

We love when creativity meets celebration, and this is a beautiful connection of the two. This book, written by a woman who passed, became a sculptural installation in the ceremony setting & a personal keepsake for guests to take home.

Source: The House


7. A cowboy’s farewell

Ever seen an all-out cowboy horseback tribute? Neither have we! In this particular celebration of life, a group of cowboys donned in Wranglers and spurs served as pallbearers at the funeral of fellow cowboy, Tom. They led the funeral procession while riding horseback.

Source: The Pioneer Woman


8. A colorful beach affair

In Indonesia, funerals are a colorful celebration of life. The photo below was taken during a funeral procession on the beach in the fishing village of Jimbaran in Bali, Indonesia. Often, Balinese funerals are elaborate, expensive affairs, much like an American wedding. They include a procession, much like a festival, filled with bright colors and floats, where the community is celebrating the life of the deceased.



9. Art cars and parades

When art car artist Tom Kennedy died, the San Francisco Bay Area art community joined together to memorialize him for his work. Considered a pioneer in the art-car movement, his designs were often inspired by the sea. But he was also famous for building the Topsy-Turvy bus for ice cream star Ben Cohen, of Ben & Jerry’s. The service began with a 40-car art car parade and ended with a big party at a warehouse where his work was on display for all to admire.


10. A beautiful balloon release

More than 1,000 people gather in New South Wales, Australia to celebrate the life of Jai Morcom—a 15-year-old boy who died of a brain hemorrhage the day after a schoolyard brawl. As a final farewell, mourners released colorful balloons in honor of Morcom at one of his favorite neighborhood parks.


11. Riders for life

The The Patriot Guard Riders is a non-profit created by motorcycle enthusiasts who attend the funerals of fallen American heroes, at the invitation of the deceased’s family. The Riders shelter, protect and escort the family of the deceased during the funeral procession.


12. Surf’s up!

A few hundred surfers gathered for a tribute paddle-out to celebrate the life of American professional surfer Andy Irons. Surrounded by family, friends and the Hawaiian surf community, Iron’s brother and wife scattered the ashes of the award-winning surfer.


13. A picture worth a thousand words

When photographer Angelo Merendino met the love of his life, Jennifer, it was love at first sight. But five months after they got married, his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. After series of chemotherapy, radiation and reconstructive surgeries and remissions, Jen lost her battle to cancer after just two years. Through their struggle together, Angelo photographed the most memorable moments with intimate photographs. Their hope was that people could understand how difficult it is to fight cancer by documenting their journey. When Jen passed away, Angelo posted the photographs with this beautiful message:

My photographs show this daily life. They humanize the face of cancer, on the face of my wife. They show the challenge, difficulty, fear, sadness and loneliness that we faced, that Jennifer faced, as she battled this disease. Most important of all, they show our Love. These photographs do not define us, but they are us.

To view the entire photo essay of Jen’s battle, click here.


14. “Oh Sweet Lorraine”

Fred Stobaugh of Peoria, Illinois, isn’t a songwriter. In fact, he’s only written two songs in his life. One of the songs he wrote is the one we’re nominating as a beautiful celebration of life today. Fred wrote the song “Oh Sweet Lorraine” for his late wife, Lorraine, documenting their 75-year amazing romance.

Fred submitted his wonderful story and beautiful song to a contest hosted by Peoria’s Green Shoe Studio. They loved his song so much, they created a soundtrack using his lyrics and showed up at his home to surprise him with it. After hearing it for the first time, Fred, with tears in his eyes, called it “Wonderful. Just wonderful.”

Grab a box of tissues because you’ll need them as you watch the video below to hear the song and find out more about Fred’s touching story:



15. “My Last Days”

When Zach Sobiech was just 14 years old, he found out that he had a rare form of terminal cancer. So, for the last years of his life, he made it his personal mission to inspire people with music. To share his message with the world, he created a Youtube video episode called “My Last Days” which included his hit single “Clouds”. It went viral on the Internet, hit a top spot on iTunes, and his touching music video won over the hearts of people everywhere.

After Zach lost his battle to cancer, a slew of celebrities – including Colbie Caillait, Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles, The Lumineers, Phillip Phillips and Ashley Tisdale – created a beautiful tribute for him in effort to raise awareness and funds to help find a cure for childhood cancer. Watch their touching tribute for Zach below:


16. Run in peace, Jim

Jim Kelley, an avid runner of nearly 30 years, had his life cut short when he was struck by a car while running one day. Jim was a very influential person in his community and he inspired many. That’s why his friends and wife wanted to pay tribute to him in the most personal way possible. They worked with the funeral directors to come up with this genius idea: Jim’s running friends would run his behind his hearse to the cemetery to represent “one last run”.

People who ran behind Jim’s hearse said it was an amazing experience because instead of mourning and sadness, there was laughter and enjoyment while they paid tribute to an amazing life lived. My favorite part about this amazing and unique tribute? Instead of saying “Rest in peace”, his family and friends said “Run in peace, Jim.”


17. The power of generosity

When Iraq war veteran and Indiana National Guardsman Jim Vester, 32, was tragically murdered while purchasing an iPad from two men on Craigslist, his community was absolutely devastated. That’s why people in his community got together and raised more than $85,000 from 1,600 donors with an  online campaign for his wife, Jamie, and one-year-old son. In response to the amazing outcry of people willing to help out, Jamie’s friend said “Humanity is beautiful and the love and support that you all have shown to Jamie and Gavin is indescribable.”


Create your own unique celebrations of life

Looking for ways to help your families celebrate the life lived in a unique and personalized way? Life Tributes software suite makes personalization simple! Create tribute videos, customized prayer cards, and personalized memorial books and more for your families in-house, in-minutes. Click here for a free 30-day trial of Life Tributes Personalization Software!


What’s the most inspiring celebration of life you’ve ever been to? Tell us in the comments below!

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  1. Kim Stacey

    What a stellar post! Very inspiring, and very moving. Thank you for starting my day out so nicely. The pictures are beautiful, and I love the cross-cultural approach. Death, as birth, is truly a fact that binds us to one another around the world. National “differences” fade into the background at moments like this, don’t they? 

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  3. Kim Stacey

    You know what I think – or what dawned on me just last night as I was falling asleep? That in every case you’ve cited, people are participating, not just sitting and watching. They are active, engaged, and experiencing a depth of healing which “sitting” just can’t manage (in my opinion). So, with that said, I’d love to hear what others do to engage family and guests – to energize the group to move forward into the ceremony, and not just witness it. 

  4. Philip Funeral Photography

    amazing lifestyle images

  5. Anonymous

     I thought so too! It’s great to see how people celebrate life all around the world!

  6. Anonymous

     I agree Kim! What an amazing experience to have everyone participating in the ceremony and celebrating the life lived!

  7. Matt

    A few years ago I had a family ask me if they could do a butterfly release at the cemetery for a burial.  I was a bit shocked by the request as we are in Wisconsin and it was the beginning of May.  Here in Wisconsin we don’t see butterflies in the beginning of May typically.  I wondered how it the world we could ever do such a thing.  None the less I told the family I would check into it.  So what do I do???  I googled butterfly release for funerals.  It was that easy.  I found a butterfly farm in Florida that shipped me 100 yellow butterflies via FedEx overnight shipping.  The butterlies came with instructions that I was to keep them in a cool place and then start to tap on the box a few minutes prior to the box opening up.  I did just that.  The butterflies woke up and shortly after I opened the box and out streamed all of these beautiful yellow butterflies.  One of them actually flew right over to the deceased family and landed on their hair.  The moment was breathtaking!  I would highly recommend this option to any family looking for something a bit different and exciting all at the same time.
    Buying 100 butterflies will set you back a couple hundred dollars, but it is worth it!  Guaranteed!

  8. Anonymous

    That sounds amazing Matt! What a great example of a celebration of life. And I’m sure that added touch meant the world to the family!

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  14. Julie johnson

    Hi! I am a trainer of white doves and we provide them to families to release at their loved ones funeral ( For your piece of mind, our doves are trained to return to their cottage in our garden back at home)… we have been operating Wings of Grace for almost twenty years now and we have had some of the most amazing releases and stories you could ever imagine ! We heard people do many times in the services say “ that’s just like Frank, he would’ve done that !”… the doves just seem to take on personality traits of the deceased and so many get a
    “gift of healing” when they “Let Go” and watch their loved ones dove disappear into the clouds with a large flock of angels or even just three others representing the Father, Son snd Holy Spirit leading The way up into the heavens on a final and spiritual flight home !

  15. Krystal Penrose

    Sounds so beautiful Julie, thank you for sharing! We love the imagery you made. Seems like you have something very special there! We’d love to see a picture sometime 🙂

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