Some of the bereaved families I speak with are quite confused when I ask if they would like the funeral ceremony to be a celebration of life.
I think they imagine I’m suggesting we have dancing in the aisles (I have done that!) and balloons (done that too!).
But even a more traditional funeral can include touches that truly celebrate the life of the person who has gone.
Take this ribbon, for example, already chosen by the family before I met them. The colour was the favourite of the person we were honouring and it’s perhaps no coincidence that it matched his sunny nature as well. His name was printed on each one.
But it’s the words that are particularly meaningful.
‘Laugh a lot, sing often, keep smiling’.
The family could have chosen any words. But the tributes given during the ceremony spoke about how he brought laughter to those around him and how he loved to sing along to his favourite pop tunes.
The words also recognise his concern, in his last days, that those he loved should continue to have happy lives, even without him.
Simple words but chosen with meaning and love.
A ribbon was given to each mourner, with a pin, before the ceremony began so that they had time to reflect and to pin it over their heart before walking into the chapel.
Wearing this symbol of remembrance united everyone in their loss at a time when coming together and supporting each other is of the greatest importance.
It also served as a reminder that a life lived well is something to celebrate, even as we mourn the fact that it is over.
I was privileged to wear one of the ribbons myself and it is now fastened to a board in my office. It’s a constant visual reminder of a lovely man who is missed more than words can say but who will never be forgotten by the people who shared his life.
If you would like to arrange a similar way to celebrate a life, contact me or search for ‘Awareness Ribbons’ online. Companies offer a range of colours and you can choose the words that have a unique meaning for you and your loved one.