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If you have attended a funeral service recently, you may have noticed that it was a little more upbeat and celebratory than the services you attended when you were a young adult or child. With the baby boom population being 75 million strong, it’s no surprise that today’s funeral services have become “Life Celebrations” instead of a room full of friends and family wearing black attire and sad faces.
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Whether you’re a boomer or the child of a boomer, you may have started talking about the next 10, 20 or even 30 years and planning for the retirement years. If you have already had the retirement conversation and started planning, congratulations – you are doing yourself and your family a favor by considering and possibly making decisions about the many choices you have available to you. If you haven’t, don’t worry, you aren’t alone.
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Have you ever considered how much your family has experienced during your lifetime together? From the birth of your children to the first and last days of school to weddings and all the vacations, ballgames and performances in between, you probably have many stories to share with friends and families. Along the way, I’m pretty certain you have probably taken hundreds if not thousands of photos and videos of your family and friends to help document your journey.
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If you have attended a funeral service recently, you may have noticed that it was a little more upbeat and celebratory than the services you attended when you were a young adult or child.
With the baby boom population being 75 million strong, it’s no surprise that today’s funeral services have become “Life Celebrations” instead of a room full of friends and family wearing black attire and sad faces.
This is certainly not to downplay the fact that when a loved one dies, we aren’t sad or that it is difficult to celebrate a traumatic and unexpected loss. It is simply to state that today the emphasis on funerals for many families, especially baby boomers, has been to plan the service around the things that the deceased enjoyed and the experiences he or she had during their lifetime.
The funeral industry has coined many terms to refer to these per sonalized and celebratory services. Central Kentuckians likely have heard “Celebration of Life” or “Life Celebration” . Although “Life Celebrations” have been offered for many decades, families are requesting these types of services more today than in the past.
At the most basic level, Life Celebrations may include photos,
videos or personal memorabilia on display at the service. Additionally, some families choose to play selections from their loved one’s play list instead of traditional funeral music and readings.
In more recent years, families are going beyond basic life celebrations. For example, at a Life Celebration for a wine connoisseur, family and friends may choose to share a toast to their loved one with a glass of the deceased’s favorite wine. The family of an artist may turn the funeral chapel into an art gallery so friends and family can admire the works of art. A Life Celebration for a baker might incorporate baking grandma’s best cookie recipe at the reception so everyone can smell and taste the cookies.
Some of the examples of Life Celebrations mentioned are easy enough for a funeral director to carry out in a short notice. Other personal touches at a Life Celebration take more time to plan and implement. Just like it can take 6 months to a year to plan an elaborate wedding, the possibilities for Life Celebrations are endless and should be planned well in advance of an eminent death.
Individuals and families who want to memorialize their loved one through a Life Celebration will benefit from a conversation with a local funeral director who specializes in advance planning. An advance plan will help your family and funeral director know how you want your life celebrated.
I recently lost my grandmother and uncle and miss them dreadfully. However, I’ve always been appreciative that our family celebrated the many good years we spent with them through Life Celebrations. Because my relatives chose a Life Celebration before they died, my family felt that they had given permission to laugh as much as we cried. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to be in a room full of people sharing the joyful memories and laughing together instead of dwelling on death. I know in my heart that they would have wanted us to celebrate.
While the popularity of Life Celebrations has increased, a funeral is still about memorializing a loved one and helping families and friends cope with their loss. Your funeral director will help guide you through the entire process.
Kim Wade has been a marketing consultant for more than 20 years specializing in the funeral industry. Currently, she is the Community Relations Director for Milward Funeral Directors, the 37th-