• Debbie Donnelly Funeral Celebrant

Ideas for a celebration of life service or scattering of ashes

With many people choosing to have a small funeral or direct cremation followed by a service when things return to normal after COVID I thought I would talk about ideas for a Celebration of life service or scattering of ashes.

Both offer a wide choice of venue and service content so it is important to think about the memories you want to create and the way you want to celebrate your loved ones life.

Here in the UK the laws regarding the scattering of ashes are fairly relaxed but it is worth checking before you finalise any plans. A number of companies are now offering specialist services that reflect the passions and interests a person had during their lifetime

For those on the South Coast who lived near, worked on or just loved the sea the Solace Reef offer a permanent underwater memorial or this company make beautiful wicker ‘viking ships’ to place the ashes in

For those with a love of the stars and an interest in space can become a starman and have their ashes blasted into space

Most people will however want to hold a ceremony in a place that holds good memories and has a special meaning for the family. There are many companies providing biodegradable urns and other eco friendly products for those who want to reduce the environmental impact.

Popular choices are beaches, sports grounds, river/sea, favourite view on a walk, memorial garden or maybe overseas when able, to scatter them in a well loved holiday destination.

One of my favourite stories about scattering ashes comes from Jay Rayner and his sister who scattered the ashes of their parents [agony aunt Claire and painter Des] in various London locations.

Scattering ceremonies can be small and silent or large and loud with fireworks, the choice is yours as is the structure and content. People often have a short poem, reading or prayer and maybe a short eulogy.

Celebration of Life

A celebration of life is a popular choice to acknowledge a life well lived and can be an opportunity to remember, celebrate and share memories. Unlike a traditional funeral service which follows established practices a celebration of life can be anything that you think is appropriate and right for the person you are remembering. Venues can range from outdoor to a favourite bar, can be a village hall or a posh hotel, the choice is yours.

There is no template for the ceremony but people often have favourite music, maybe show a video or old cine film, have memory walls or books and ask people to take part with the lighting of candles or creating a memory tree. A celebrant can help you put together an eulogy, find the right readings or poems and can suggest suitable venues and locations.

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