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A Celebration of Life, Not a Mourning of Death

Updated on June 11, 2017

Remember them as they were

A traditional funeral service with black suits and quiet church music and people gathered around a casket or urn, is okay for some, but it is not favorable for many people. Sometimes mourning a life just doesn't feel right. Life should be celebrated. It is a special day when people who loved a person gather together and celebrate their life, happily, and remember the person as they were...alive, and vibrant.

Each person is different - has different passions and different loves - so why should every funeral be the same? Look to their life for ideas on how best to celebrate it.

Photo by januszek

Planning a Celebration of Life, A Simple Guide for Turning a Memorial Service into a Celebration of Life

If you are planning a celebration of life rather then a somber funeral, you will want to pick up this book. It tells you all you need to know.

Planning a Celebration of Life, A Simple Guide for Turning a Memorial Service into a Celebration of Life
Planning a Celebration of Life, A Simple Guide for Turning a Memorial Service into a Celebration of Life

This book is full of unique and creative Life Celebration ideas that will help you creat a memorable and personalized celebration. Including: Activities like dove releases and candle lighting ceremonies, remembrance poem and song collections, flowers, food and drink ideas, parting gifts, remembering and coping ideas, a guide to scattering remains, 10 ideas for creating a memorial to keep the memory of your loved one alive.


Video Clips

View some celebrations honoring the lives of loved ones.

Dealing Creatively With Death: A Manual of Death Education and Simple Burial

Dealing Creatively with Death: A Manual of Death Education and Simple Burial
Dealing Creatively with Death: A Manual of Death Education and Simple Burial

Now in its 14th edition, this classic book has sold more than 300,000 copies in earlier editions. It is a small encyclopedia on death-related problems; social, emotional, philosophical and practical. It is written simply and sensitively, drawing substantially on direct experience. It is thoroughly updated from previous editions. Topics include Death Education; Living with Dying; Bereavement; The Right to Die; Simple Burial and Cremation; Funeral Consumer Organizations; Death Ceremonies; and How the Dead can Help the Living.


Concentrate on how they lived, not on how they died

Remember The LIFE They Had

Sometimes death is a sudden tragedy, and sometimes it is a long expected one. Do not let the death of a person impede on the circumstances of their memorial. Celebrate their LIFE.

curated content from flickr

Not sure you can celebrate?

If you are not sure whether you can celebrate, then you need to come to grips with the fact that death will come. It is inevitable. It may be sudden, or well foreseen. Either way, death is a time to remember life. If you think you will not make it though a celebration of life memorial, or you need to help someone else who is not ready, pick up one of these books, to help you through.

"Don't cry

because it's over.

Smile because it happened."

-Dr. Seuss

Africa Celebrates

Final Celebrations: A Guide for Personal and Family Funeral Planning

He Was a Good Man, But Now He's Gone - by M. Ward

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    • profile image

      Johna88 3 years ago

      Very interesting subject , appreciate it for posting . All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why. by James Thurber. cgaekcfbdcdd

    • Vortrek Grafix profile image

      Vortrek Grafix 3 years ago

      Yes, by all means - better to remember the dearly departed in a happy context. It's better for the soul to celebrate life, rather than mourn death. Our loved ones who have passed on understand that we will grieve but they would want the best for us, and they know prolonged sorrow is not a good thing. Going forth in life a better person for having know the departed is a grand way of honoring them

    • Meganhere profile image

      Meganhere 3 years ago

      What a great topic! When my father died we didn't have a funeral, we just had a wake, where all of those who knew and loved him got together, had some food and drinks and remembered him. It's what he wanted, so we honoured that.

    • darkflowers profile image

      Anja Toetenel 4 years ago from The Hague, the Netherlands

      Great topic and Lens Kab! I would never want people to be sad when I'm gone. It should be a party! With nice food and drinks and cheerful music or so. We all will be dead one day. I'm not afraid to leave this body. And who knows... we might come back or so. At least I think there is more between heaven and Earth, what this "more" exactly is and/or looks like? I have no idea. But I'm sure life doesn't end after leaving the physical body. And in the worst case there is nothing... well, no problem too, we won't know it then... So no reason for black suits etc. You gave us some great suggestions! Thank you!

    • profile image

      mina009 4 years ago

      When a sudden death comes or a death at a very young age I am not sure whether especially the closest people will have as a first thought in their mind to celebrate life or would even think what style of funeral would be better. Still, I understand your concept.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am trying to find out if my sisters urn needs to be present at a celerbration of life?. She has left no plans but does want her ashes scatered two places but my mom wants a sevice at a third location. Also mom is paying for everything and has some notition she will be paid back.

    • Girlwiththorns profile image

      Girlwiththorns 4 years ago

      A great topic that is so often taboo. I definitely want my funeral to be a celebration for my loved ones left behind...

    • netwriter4hire profile image

      netwriter4hire 4 years ago

      Your lens is uplifting! I love your spirit concerning grief. I think you might like my view of grief. I think that death should be a celebration.

    • happymonkeyz profile image

      happymonkeyz 4 years ago

      thanks for the informational lens.

    • profile image

      javis007 4 years ago

      great lens

    • aylsbillones1 profile image

      aylsbillones1 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this lens..An eye-opener

    • redtailvision profile image

      redtailvision 4 years ago

      It was good to see your lens on this! Death is not the end, only a new beginning.

    • profile image

      ChroniclesofaWa 4 years ago

      Great lens, very well said. When I die, I would like them to celebrate that I lived and not mourn about my death. You just gave me a wonderful thought to ponder on. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Interesting. I like the Dr Seuss quote aswel. We should actually celebrate life and death, not because someone died, but in some cases, because they are not suffering anymore.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 4 years ago

      excellent article.

    • Chris-H LM profile image

      Chris-H LM 4 years ago

      The Dr Seuss quote is one of my favorites.

    • profile image

      CristianStan 4 years ago

      Mourning should be because you miss the psychical presence of the person

    • PassionatelyCur profile image

      PassionatelyCur 4 years ago

      Wonderful, wonderful lens! : )

    • SheilaSchnauzies profile image

      Sheila 4 years ago from Omaha, NE

      Squid Angel blessings to you on a lovely lens. Well done. I feel the same way, that life should be celebrated, not mourned... I never consider death "goodbye" but instead, "so long for now."

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      great lens :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you.

    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      The best funeral I have been to was not a funeral. It was a memorial and the body wasn't even there in any form. Nobody sat around crying. We all got up and spoke funny stories about the person. I left that day with a good feeling and decided I never want a funeral. At the memorial we released butterflies and then later on some of us went to a mountain top to sprinkle the ashes. The ashes blew up toward the sky and sparkled. Then again so did the person.

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      I love your Dr. Seuss quote. I am so with you on this. Thank you so much for creating this article - I believe in celebrating life, before and after death.

    • Smashbooks LM profile image

      Smashbooks LM 4 years ago

      Great lens, thank you.

    • JuliaAnnPayne profile image

      JuliaAnnPayne 4 years ago

      nice lens on death and dying...

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      What an amazing and touching lens. I could not stand to watch all of the videos, as my sister is dying, but what I saw tells me that you picked very well. blessed - because you have blessed so many publishing this lens.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Celebration of life is such an important perspective to hold. We who are Christians are in fact commanded to not grieve as though we are hopeless because we hold the hope of eternal life through faith. But even people who do not have faith or are unsure of the hereafter can (and should) do their best to appreciate life and memory of those who go before us.

    • TwistedWiseman profile image

      TwistedWiseman 5 years ago

      I am grateful that my granddad died a painless death, no suffering or illness.

      We should celebrate life not moan about death.

    • profile image

      Laychee 5 years ago

      Thank you.

    • TheUndertaker LM profile image

      TheUndertaker LM 5 years ago

      great lens! you inspire me!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      It's better to make the most of the moment that you're in because that's where you are.

    • profile image

      gaser983 5 years ago

      Awesome lens, nicely done!

    • Trixiesmom2u profile image

      Trixiesmom2u 5 years ago

      I really liked this thoughtful lens, especially the Dr Deuss quote.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      A life should always be celebrated, I totally agree. It makes living much more enjoyable than mourning. ~ Blessed again!

    • profile image

      gadgetchecker 5 years ago

      Really nice lens, something which is often cloaked in sorrow and loss, which is right, but really as you say needs to capture the person, celebrate the life and remember the happy times. the loss and sadness remains for a long time though...

    • profile image

      cmadden 5 years ago

      The Dr. Seuss quote says it well!

    • Sara Krentz profile image

      Sara Krentz 5 years ago from USA

      Wonderful lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I think that having a celebration makes the loss a lot easier because you are focusing on the positive things in the person's life. The tears come when you remember that you lost them but then you can smile when you remember the good times you had with them. Great lens - thanks!

    • profile image

      myamya 5 years ago

      Great lens,nicely done! Squidlike

    • MissMissylue LM profile image

      MissMissylue LM 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your story. I am currently dealing with the loss of a loved one and was glad I found your article during a search. I loved the Dr. Seuss quote.

    • Kathryn Beach profile image

      Kathryn Wallace 5 years ago from Greenbank, WA, USA

      I read the NY Times obituary for Elizabeth Zimmerman, an imaginative and inspirational knitter. The young person who wrote it didn't know how to knit but researching EZ's life prompted her to learn, and she included one of EZ's knitting patterns in the obit. I'm aiming for that...and a lot of singing and laughing. Oh, and thanks for the thumbs up on my new lens, much appreciated!

    • madnessmerritt profile image

      madnessmerritt 5 years ago

      100% right on. I have attended more then my fair share, each different and each based on the person. I have started a list of suggestions I know emotion can cloud judgement so helpful tools are great to akaken the joy that you were apart of their life.

    • ITWorksInc LM profile image

      ITWorksInc LM 5 years ago

      Definitely agree with you and CountrySunshine-a person's passing should be mourned with a celebration of that person's life.

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 5 years ago from Texas

      I've always believed that a funeral or memorial service should be more positive. When my husband died, we had a somewhat traditional service. But we released helium balloons afterwards, and then had a BBQ. Time enough to feel sad later!

      A really nice article... and the Dr. Seuss quote says it all!

    • awakeningwellness profile image

      awakeningwellness 5 years ago

      Lovely lens!

    • profile image

      RuralFloridaLiving 5 years ago

      Beautiful thoughts

    • profile image

      psoriasistreatment7 5 years ago

      We should celebrate everyday of our lives and then others can celebrate our lives at our funerals!!

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 5 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you for this celebration of life. Perhaps the celebrating should start sooner rather than later (as in before death).

    • profile image

      oiloflife 5 years ago

      Terrific lens! Thanks for all of the other lens references and online resources.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." What a wonderful thought. May we celebrate life!

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 5 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      I love the Dr Seuss quote - indeed all aspects of life happen so thus are worthy of celebration. This includes death.

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      A well-lived life deserves to be celebrated! Thoughtful, insightful lens. Great job!

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 5 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      You are absolutely right. We should celebrate life, death is only part of it. thanks for beautiful lens!

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 5 years ago from Havre de Grace

      I hope that everyone can think this way! Angel Blessings!

    • bechand profile image

      bechand 5 years ago

      beautiful way to think of things. I work in a nursing home and I can see how this outlook could really help people.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Does anyone knows when did obituaries start to appear in newspapers? I would also like to know about wedding and birth announcements?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great topic. thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      wonderful piece indeed, thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I loved the text at the beginning! You put in simple words a very complex idea which I think should spread! Funerals as we know them shouldn't exist anymore!

    • ShariBerry profile image

      Sharon Berry 5 years ago from Michigan

      Very nicely done. I share your thoughts about celebrating ones life. Remember, we will always have the memories.

    • pcgamehardware profile image

      pcgamehardware 5 years ago

      Great video, and a great topic.

      I just lost a five week old granddaughter and this lens hit close to home...

      A Like and A Share and A Blessing by big Joe.

    • SecondHandJoe LM profile image

      SecondHandJoe LM 5 years ago

      New Orleans always had the right idea. I do both though mourn. . . then celebrate! Loved the videos and the article!

    • pajnhiaj profile image

      pajnhiaj 5 years ago

      i love this lens! beautiful! thanks! Life is supposed to be a beautiful memory.

    • nyclittleitaly profile image

      nyclittleitaly 5 years ago

      really great message and a great lens

    • profile image

      Terrie_Schultz 5 years ago

      Nicely done, thank you!

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      Your lens sends a great message. I really enjoyed reading this.

    • Ram Ramakrishnan profile image

      Ram Ramakrishnan 5 years ago

      We grieve at someone's death primarily for ourselves - not for the departed. If we were to shift our focus - as it ought to be, then the occasion could indeed be a celebration - perhaps a little muted, but still one.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      In some of our traditions, death at a ripe old age is much celebrated. And according to many teachings from the ancient scriptures from India, birth is to be abhorred and death to be celebrated, for the liberation of the soul. Nice thoughts and well presented! :)

    • CanInsure profile image

      CanInsure 5 years ago

      I love the Africa video. It's important to focus on a lifetime of memories rather than focus on the event of death. I've lost a few loved ones and I always try to remember the good times. Thanks for sharing.

    • Tamara14 profile image

      Tamara Kajari 5 years ago from Zagreb, Croatia, Europe

      I honestly dislike the tradition of wearing black and mourning after a loved one passes because I don't think neither black clothes nor the sad funeral really stands for what's in people's hearts. The version with music and "celebrating" the fact of knowing that person seams more natural in a sense that live goes on.

    • profile image

      mrducksmrnot 5 years ago

      Well done. As a loved one or friend passes on Life still goes on. How the departed helped us and touched our life lives on in each of us. How we keep their spirit and love alive is left up to those still living. What we do with that Love keeps our departed alive in everyone. Life is Beautiful. Share it with love, compassion and understanding as those who have departed would want us to do. Thanks for remembering the Love of Life itself.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile image

      RaintreeAnnie 5 years ago from UK

      You have done a wonderful job with this lens. Not always an easy subject to discuss bit a necessary one we all need to cope with. I love the idea of a celebration of life and I like the Dr Seuss quote. Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Lovely lens. I've also sort of discussed this topic with my madcap funeral songs lens. You are most welcome to visit.

    • profile image

      moonlitta 5 years ago

      As far as I can remember I've visited and blessed your lens already, but I'm doing it again, I believe my previous one has expired. A very difficult subject to talk, write, or even think about, you've done it wonderfully here.

    • viscri8 profile image

      viscri8 5 years ago

      Blessed -- because I like it!

    • viscri8 profile image

      viscri8 5 years ago

      I actually made my Happy Coffin -- as I relate the same way to the important moment in one's life that one's own funeral is. I even have a lens about the Happy Coffin -- which is an artwork with an eventual functional purpose. I also think that that the past on person's personality should be celebrated and remembered for how it was -- one should not become the same with others -- just because it;s one's funeral.

    • creativeinc lm profile image

      creativeinc lm 5 years ago

      Great lens! I prefer to celebrate the lives of the departed.

    • profile image

      WorldVisionary 5 years ago

      Excellent lens! Thanks for putting together such an uplifting lens - thumbs up and an Angel blessing for you. I also have a lens in this niche, called Condolence Message called Condolence Message Sample

    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 5 years ago

      I only know the "sad kind" but would enjoy more to go once to a funeral with music and dancing (alive surely!)

    • JK Sterling profile image

      Jim Sterling 5 years ago from Franklin, Tennessee

      Well said, thank you for the reminder.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I agree. It is far better to celebrate the life and love shared when one of our own passes. May all who suffer grief be comforted, wherever they may be. Thank you for sharing this, for the Requiem video, and for the tips.

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 5 years ago

      This reminded of somebody who passed away that I terribly miss. It's true that although we can't help but feel sad and grief over someone's passing, we should remember how they lived and celebrate it. Be happy that you were able to share a moment with that person here on earth. Fantastic lens! Sundae ;-)

    • GypsyPirate LM profile image

      GypsyPirate LM 5 years ago

      I love this. And, while I can never manage to not be sad at a funeral and wake, I do always try to remember why it is that I am going to miss the person and to celebrate that. Thanks for giving me a wonderful reminder!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Our whole business is centered on this celebration of life. Make videos that we will securely store and distribute (email) on confirmation of your death. Tell friends and family your final thoughts and perform your own Eulogy at your funeral!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Nicely written. Another unique and touching way of celebrating someone's life is by collecting the voices of families and friends who call into a toll-free number and record toasts, tributes, memories and stories. This can be done through a service found here:

    • TheRosemaryComp profile image

      TheRosemaryComp 6 years ago

      Beautiful and well written. Thank you for sharing with us.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I am awaiting the passing of my mother who is only 66 years young. Her health is failing due to several unfortunate illnesses. Recently my wife gave birth to two beautiful twins girls. I had hoped that their birth would have spurred a bit more will to live and fight, but her desire to continue on has passed. When last i saw her, she asked if i would play her the song, Take my hand precious lord, as she wishes to be able to be free from her suffering and pain and this song is her way of asking God to help her pass.

      While I am having a very hard time accepting this as she is the only parent I had and the memories of our time is very powerful, we have spoken before about me not mourning her, but celebrating her life and all the things she did and accomplished. Yet I find it difficult to see much of anything but loss as because she will not be a part of her granddaughters lives.

      I pray that I find something in these books which helps me do as she asked, for she deserves this and so much more.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      We must begin to "Celebrate the Life, Not the Loss." Many families have too many preconceptions of what a memorial should be. If religion or spirituality brings one comfort, than stick with tradition so that the beliefs or heritage are truly incorporated into the heart of a celebration. If tradition doesnât hold any appeal, then reinforce the freedom we have to find a new way to express the spirit and personality of the one you have lost.

      Event planners who specialize in "funeral planning" and celebrations of life are beginning to emerge and it doesn't hurt to seek one out if only for a consultation.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      You said it well, death is a celebration of life, look at what the person left behind, memories whether they were good or bad, they can be of great value. We choose how we celebrate those who have gone on. Thank you! I really enjoyed this. Have a wonderful week.

    • dexter yarbroug1 profile image

      dexter yarbroug1 6 years ago

      Good information. I appreciate your perspective.

    • profile image

      grifith 6 years ago

      Very Nice Lens

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 6 years ago

      Great lens.

    • JackNimble profile image

      JackNimble 6 years ago

      I want people to throw a rip roaring party when I die. I might even start a saving fund to pay for it so no one else has to spend any money. Wouldn't that be cool to try to give in death as well.

    • profile image

      Rajkumarsingh 6 years ago

      Really this is very Positive and devoted..

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 6 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Very positive lens!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      A neighbor had a Celebration of Life luncheon after her husband's death. Several people had prepared memories to read, so it was a touching event but less dreary than a traditional funeral.

    • CarynJSwift56889 profile image

      CarynJSwift56889 6 years ago

      great lens, and I really want to learn something from your len

    • profile image

      Jerrad28 6 years ago

      Great lens! Thank you

    • profile image

      AigulErali 6 years ago

      This lens is devoted to an important topic. Thanks for putting this together. Thumbs up!

    • profile image

      MalcolmH 6 years ago

      I wholeheartedly agree with celebrating the life of a loved one, rather than being solemn and mournful.

      I also find it helpful to reflect on why we die. If there was no death, the Earth would soon be fully populated with plants and animals. Then there could be no birth, no new life to celebrate. And on this Earth, there could be no carnivores, and the herbivores could only eat parts that did not kill the plant. There would be no deadly diseases either, and so no disease organisms. This greatly simplified ecosystem would probably be unstable!

      Taking this argument a step further, if nothing ever died, there could be no change. Evolution to meet the challenges of natural variations in climate and living conditions would cease. And so, paradoxically, without death of individual organisms, life could not exist.

      So death is the well-spring of life.

      For a fuller discussion of these points, and a description of how the Findhorn Community celebrates the deaths of loved members, see my blog at