How Celebration Services Are Changing What Families Think About Funerals

When it comes to funerals, celebration is the new black.

But seriously… today’s changing families are beginning to throw all of the formalities of a traditional funeral aside and opt instead for a more unique, personalized and celebratory service to honor the ones that mean the most to them.

But before you write this article off as just another crazy trend that will never actually change the funeral profession you know and love, take a look at these facts…

So if your funeral home is not already embracing life celebration as a meaningful, valuable way to serve the families in your community, you are not only doing them a great disservice by withholding a chance to celebrate and heal, but you are also holding them back from the type of funeral service that they want.

The last thing that you want is for families leaving your funeral home to feel like they missed out on an opportunity for healing, or to wish that they had done more to honor the life of their loved one, all because they didn’t realize the options that were available to them. After all, life celebration is only a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Why Celebration Services Are So Valuable To Families

Celebrations of life are the best of both worlds when it comes to funeral service. They take the memory sharing and personality of a memorial service with the value and ritual of a traditional funeral service. When you combine the two, you get a meaningful event that doesn’t put the focus on the loss of a loved one, but instead highlights the amazing life lived.

Think of a celebration services like a highlight reel of a person’s life. People gather around to reminisce about all of the good times that they spent with someone who meant so much to them — telling stories, sharing memories and reflecting back on the qualities and achievements that made their loved one’s life so unique.

Unfortunately, when you have a traditional, structured funeral service, you aren’t always afforded these same opportunities. In fact, most of the time the only person who is standing up and sharing stories of a loved one is a clergy member or a funeral professional who may not have known them very well at all.

That’s why it’s so valuable to make the friends and family of the loved one center stage at the funeral service, as this ensures that the event that you are hosting is all about the life that you are celebrating. Below are just a few ways that you can make this happen.

How To Bring Celebration Elements Into Traditional Funerals

Photo Credit: Dignity Memorial

Make the entire event personalized to the person you are celebrating.

When most people think of funeral personalization, they think of small elements such as playing a loved one’s favorite song during a funeral service, or sending flowers in a loved one’s favorite color. But personalization can really take over all elements of a funeral service, from small details to a large-scale production.

For example, let’s say that you are hosting a funeral service for a grandmother who was all about gardening. How might your funeral home help this beloved woman “grow” her life story, even after she is gone? Maybe her trusted gardening tools — her shovel, her gloves, her favorite potted plants — could be displayed next to her casket at the funeral service. Or instead of only having loved ones send their favorite flowers as an expression of sympathy, you could also share seeds of the grandmother’s favorite flowers as a funeral favor for all who were in attendance.

Because most funerals include a gathering or a meal following the service, perhaps you could also offer to host a luncheon in your funeral gardens, so that families could linger in your facilities, have a safe place to swap stories, and could be surrounded by decor that their loved one would have cherished. Whether you choose to carry out all of the celebratory elements above, or you focus in on just one detail, you are ultimately doing your part to celebrate this family’s grandmother and all of her favorite personalized life details

Use photos and videos as celebration supports

In our blog last week, we spoke with renowned grief expert Allison Gilbert about the magic healing power that photos and videos can bring when you use them to facilitate memory and story sharing. As Allison said, “Nostalgia, the sentimental longing for the past, makes us feel happier, stronger, and drives our capacity for resilience. The more we engage with our memories, the more connected we feel not just to the past, but to family and friends in the present.” Therefore, your funeral home should be using every opportunity it can to bring photos and videos into the funeral process to help drive feelings of healing and sharing.

One great way to incorporate photos and videos into a funeral service is through personalized memorial videos. These videos, which can be created by your funeral home in literally minutes, not only help to share the unique story of a loved one’s life, but they also serve as a one-of-a-kind prompt for the many memories, stories, moments and events that make up a person’s life.

Think about it — when an aunt, friend or even college roommate sees a photo of their loved one that they haven’t seen in years, it prompts them to reminisce: “I remember that photo… we had just graduated from college and were celebrating at one of our favorite restaurant in the city!” or “I will never forget that day gardening with Grandma. She was singing her favorite song and planting her favorite flowers.”

Before you know it, a simple, static photo has turned into a new story about a favorite restaurant, a favorite song or a favorite flower, and people who never knew these facts about their loved one before are now leaving with new memories that they didn’t have when they walked in your funeral home.

Do you want to bring the power of celebrating and memory sharing into your funeral home? Click here to sign up today for our FREE 30-day free trial of Life Tributes memorial video software. It will be one of the most meaningful celebratory services that you can provide for today’s changing families.

How is your funeral home embracing celebratory services and providing more meaningful funerals to your families? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Janis Taylor-Lee

    Love your articles I’m a Celebrant and licienced Funeral Director
    Thank you

  2. Brian Young


    Good article. I’m very curious about this stat you gave:
    71% of consumers stated that they don’t want a traditional funeral.

    The link supplied on the blog post only takes me to the home page of the US Funerals Website. Would you please show me where you got that? While I’m not surprised, I’ve never seen so high a number before and would like to find the source so I can cite it where needed. Thanks.


  3. Rilee Chastain

    Hi Brian, thanks for the comment and the catch! It looks like the page we were linking to is no longer on the US Funerals website. Due to the fact that we no longer have a source to link to, we have changed the statistic that we posted to a similar survey finding: found that only 17% of people surveyed said that they would like a traditional burial when they pass away, while 58% opted for cremation. (20% didn’t know their preference, and 5% wanted something else.) You can find the full results to the survey here:

    We have adjusted our blog post to reflect this comment! Thanks again for pointing this out!