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1151 River Road,
New Milford, NJ 07646
Phone: (201) 692-0100
1151 River Road
New Milford, NJ 07646
Phone: (201) 692-0100
1151 River Road
New Milford, NJ 07646
Phone: (201) 692-0100
1151 River Road
New Milford, NJ 07646
Phone: (201) 692-0100
1151 River Road
New Milford, NJ 07646
Phone: (201) 692-0100

Funeral vs. Celebration of Life

It's interesting; a funeral and a life celebration have much in common, yet they often appear very different. Each is a ceremony; a gathering of people who share a common loss. It's just that one is more rooted in tradition, while the other is the result of recent changes in social values. But both serve to do three things:

1. Help the bereaved family, and their community, publically acknowledge the death of one of their own.

2. Support the grieving family by surrounding them with caring friends, co-workers, and neighbors.

3. Move the deceased from one social status to another.

Yet they achieve those things in very different ways. First, let's take a closer look at what most of us commonly see as very traditional funerals.

The Funeral

celebration of life flower celebration of life service flower life celebration tree

It's not surprising funerals have been around for a very long time. Composed of three activities, the visitation, the funeral service, and the committal service, performed at the graveside; this funeral is the one we'd easily recognize from contemporary literature and film.

The Visitation: Held prior to the funeral, often the night before but sometimes on the same day, the visitation (or viewing) is a time when people come to support the family and, more importantly, pay their respects to the deceased. This often involves stepping up to the casket to view the body; either in the company of a member of the surviving family or on your own.

The Funeral Service: Commonly held in the funeral home or church, the traditional funeral service is led by an officiant of one kind or another; most commonly a pastor or the funeral director. This individual follows a very predictable funeral order of service which includes the singing of hymns; and invocations, Bible recitations, Scripture readings, and prayers led by the officiant.

The Committal Service: This takes place at the cemetery, after a slow and respectful automobile procession from the place where the funeral was held. The committal service ends when the casketed remains are lowered into the ground, and final prayers are said.

The Celebration of Life

celebration of life music celebration of life service bar life celebration photo

It's really a process of asking–and answering–questions. Sit down with other family members, at least once, but maybe even more than once; to explore the celebration of life ideas which arise from answering these questions:

1. Who will be invited? The number of guests define the where, when, and how of your celebration of life service. Write down the names of everyone you think would want to be there and then set it aside. You can add new names to the list as you go along.

2. Where, and when, should the event take place? Here's where your imagination is tempered by any scheduling or travel-related issues facing those who will be invited. Be sure to check in with out-of-town relatives and friends about their situation before settling on these critical details.

3. Who will orchestrate or conduct the event? If your loved one was religious, you may opt to have their pastor or church minister perform these tasks. However, many families today hire a non-denominational celebrant to oversee the celebration of life.

4. Who wishes to speak at the event? Many times family members or friends will be very direct about their desire to make a short presentation at the celebration of life; other times you need to come out and ask folks if they would be willing to publicly share their thoughts and feelings. Either way, you'll want to select those people who have shared a close relationship with the deceased and have something meaningful to contribute.

5. What group activities would be appropriate? We've heard some exciting life celebration ideas over the years. This question involves thinking about what your loved one liked most about their life and gives everyone a remarkable space to share memories, laugh, and even cry together.

6. What food or beverages should be served?  What you serve may depend on the theme of your celebration of life, or may be based on your loved one's favorite dishes. It's entirely up to you; we've even seen "pot luck" celebrations of life where guests actually sign up to bring select foods and beverages.

7. What readings and music should you include?  Music is an integral part of life for many people, and a celebration of life is the perfect event in which to showcase the meaningful music of your loved one's life. But, if your loved one didn't appreciate music (and lots of folks don’t), it may be more appropriate to read chosen spiritual selections, or excerpts from literature.

8. What details of your loved one's life do you want to share with guests? Not every biographical detail needs to be highlighted; rather you're trying to capture their essence by telling revealing anecdotes or stories. Sometimes you can reveal their character by detailing one short moment in their life experience.

9. What decorations will you have? Many families create a tribute video and use it as the centerpiece of the event. Others choose to use a memory table of photographs and other memorabilia instead.

Are You Undecided? Turn to Us

life celebration typewriter celebration of life glasses celebration of life phone

We've got years of experience listening, brainstorming, and advising families how they can best pay tribute to a beloved family member. That means we're the perfect people to help you decide between a funeral service and a celebration of life service. We'll explore your funeral service options with you in detail, taking all the time you need. Celebrations of life are intended to lift everyone's spirits by focusing on positive memories. And as we wrote in the above introduction, if you'd like to learn more about celebrations of life, we invite you to contact us with any questions. 

In the book Chocolat, by Joanne Harris, you'll find this fundamental truth: “Life is what you celebrate. All of it. Even its end.”  As funeral professionals we help families express reverence for life. Let us do that for your family. Call our funeral home at (201) 692-0100 to speak with a member of our staff.

Sources:
Barbara Kingsolover, The Poisonwood Bible
Joanne Harris, Chocolat

Remembering Well: Rituals for Celebrating Life & Mourning Death, Sara York

 

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Proudly Serving the Communities of New Milford, Bergenfield, Teaneck, Dumont, River Edge, Paramus, Oradell, Bogota, Fort Lee, Tenafly, Westwood, Hackensack, Bergen County, and Passaic County
(201) 692-0100 Boulevard Funeral Home and Cremation Service
1151 River Road
New Milford, NJ 07646
Email: boulevardfuneral@verizon.net
(201) 692-0100 Boulevard Funeral Home and Cremation Service
1151 River Road
New Milford, NJ 07646
Email: boulevardfuneral@verizon.net
(201) 692-0100 Boulevard Funeral Home and Cremation Service
1151 River Road
New Milford, NJ 07646
Email: boulevardfuneral@verizon.net
(201) 692-0100 Boulevard Funeral Home and Cremation Service
1151 River Road
New Milford, NJ 07646
Email: boulevardfuneral@verizon.net
(201) 692-0100 Boulevard Funeral Home and Cremation Service
1151 River Road
New Milford, NJ 07646
Email: boulevardfuneral@verizon.net