We are so accustomed to attending funerals at a church, funeral parlor, and/or cemetery that it doesn't occur to many of us to hold a memorial service or celebration of life at another venue. But these days, when so many of us choose cremation for our physical remains, we don't have to have the ceremony in a building that can accommodate a casket.
Several years ago I led a memorial service for my father-in-law at the American Legion post where he had been a member. When I conducted a service for a young woman who died of melanoma it was held at Wellington House in Lafayetteville, New York. This magnificent estate is used for private social functions - most often weddings, business luncheons, and parties - but why not invite your family and friends to celebrate the life of your loved one at such a gracious venue as this? If you're planning to host a meal after the service anyway, why not hold the ceremony at the same place, whether a restaurant, Elks Club, or community center, and save yourself the extra rental fee of the funeral home?
A celebration of life may take place anywhere that a group of people can gather for a social event. It might take place at a park, in someone's back yard, at a beach, or on a mountainside. Think about the places where your loved one felt most at home or where he or she enjoyed spending their free time. Think of a place where your family and friends will feel comfortable as they remember the life of the one who has departed this earth for the next frontier. Then you can hire a life-cycle celebrant to create with your help a memorable, personalized, and even fun ceremony that reflects the essence of your husband, wife, father, mother, uncle, aunt, son or daughter. Find a celebrant near you at:Celebrant Foundation & Institute.
Emily VanLaeys is a certified life-cycle celebrant in Oneonta, New York. She provides end-of-life ceremonies throughout New York State.