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A question received recently from a reader asked: “How do you get family and friends to attend a Celebration of Life when everyone is so geographically scattered?”

This is a great question! It is unusual that family and friends are living in the same city, state or even country. If it’s a traditional burial, then it’s going to be challenging to get everyone here within a week’s time. Some will not be able to attend due to work schedules or the expense of last-minute airfares.

The Celebration of Life may be Live Streamed or the video/recording uploaded to YouTube or some other location and/or placed on a flash drive. Last year, almost every service I officiated was recorded in one form or another. One time, a close family member asked to listen in via phone. So, we placed a phone on the podium so he could listen live. 

As part of the services I provide to families, I will speak with friends or family members on the phone or via a conference call to talk about their memories. Then, their stories and memories may be incorporated into the Celebration of Life even though they may not be able to attend in person.

The trend of cremation over burial is continuing to rise. With cremation, there is more time to allow for friends and families to be present. The Celebration of Life may be planned at any time after a death. Most common is about 2-4 weeks. However, it can be anytime – even a year or more if that makes sense for everyone.

In the midst of grief, it is difficult to make so many decisions regarding the Celebration of Life. If you have ever been involved in planning a wedding, imagine doing that in just a few days. I’ve noticed that families who have the time to wait 2-4 weeks are able to plan a much better Remembrance because they don’t feel so rushed.  When grieving, there will be days you will be able to make decisions. Then, there will be other days you do not want anyone to ask you to make one more decision about anything. It’s just too much!   

Here’s a short checklist of how to plan a Celebration of Life:

    1. Secure a Venue. Date/time.  Will it be indoors or outdoors?
    2. Find an Officiant, Celebrant or Ceremony Leader.
    3. Announce details of the Celebration of Life in the obituary, online, phone calls or via postal mail.
    4. Contact Vendors – Caterer, Florist, Audio Visual, etc.
    5. Order Keepsake Mementos – wildflower seeds, pocket tokens, bookmarks, etc.

Closing Thoughts

Another thought is to have more than one Remembrance in a different city, state or country to honor your loved one. Anna moved to Colorado later in life to be near her son and daughter. However, Anna was originally from France and that is where many of her relatives and friends still resided. I officiated the Celebration of Life here in Denver, then helped the family locate a Celebrant in France to conduct a similar Ceremony there. They were each beautiful and unique Celebrations of Anna’s wonderful life.

Anita Larson Denver Funeral Officiant

Anita Larson is a Ceremony Leader and Officiant who blogs about her experiences with Celebrations of Life. Providing uncommon ideas and encouraging her readers to "Think Outside the Coffin®" when planning a Fabulous Farewell.

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