What is a Funeral Reception?
“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese
A funeral reception is a gathering that occurs after the funeral. It gives family and friends the opportunity to come together, reminisce, and remember the life of the deceased. Since the funeral reception is the final community celebration of a life, there is often solemn significance attached to the experience. Personalizing the reception to reflect the personality and character of the beloved creates memorable moments for those who loved and appreciated that individual.
How to Plan a Funeral Reception
Below are some ideas on how to plan a funeral reception and help make the celebration memorable:
1. Ask for Help and Input from Close Friends and Family
Planning a reception is work and exhausting work in the throes of grief. The old saying “two heads are better than one” is great advice. Sometimes, close friends may surprisingly know more about the loved one’s wishes than the family does. Just the other night, friends posed this question over a bottle of wine.
Each answer was not only varied and meaningful, but provided valuable insight into each other’s wishes. Asking others for assistance in planning and executing the event helps people feel valued and appreciated. It also takes pressure off of those in charge, so they have more time to rest and begin the healing process.
2. Finding Places to Have a Funeral Reception that was Special or Significant
Perhaps the departed had a favorite restaurant that he or she often frequented. If they were known by the waitstaff, you might even get extra-special service. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Maybe there is a favorite park or nature area your loved one enjoyed. Host or cater a barbeque or picnic. Did the deceased love pool parties or a good theme party? So often, we cave to standard expectations of what a funeral reception “should” look like. Making it personal and unique to the individual who passed is truly honoring his or her life while creating memorable moments for family and friends.
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3. Make the Reception Participatory
Ask guests to write down a favorite memory for a family keepsake. The memories could be recorded on a canvas, displayed on a memory tree, placed in a memory jar, or written on memorial stones and put in a vase. Invite guests to join in a favorite song or dance. Share stories about the departed. Storytelling is a beautiful way to connect one another to the life of the deceased. Hearing stories from coworkers and friends are a sure way to elicit laughter and smiles.
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4. Keep It Personal
- Serve a loved one’s favorite foods, treats, and signature drink while playing their personal playlist.
- Use favorite flowers, color schemes, and candle scents to enhance the venue.
- Highlight their personality by playing video clips and showing off pictures that reflect a life well lived.
- Display cherished belongings – maybe it’s a ticket to the Stanley Cup playoffs, a concert t-shirt they loved, a special award they won, or a few of their favorite books.
- If they loved to travel, display a map showcasing the countries or states they visited.
Think about their favorite hobbies. Items from a hobby or pastime can be creatively incorporated into a flower display or table centerpiece or sent home with guests as a keepsake. It could be a hockey puck with an inspirational saying for an athlete or a bag of seeds for a gardener. A personalized keepsake is a wonderful way to keep a memory alive.
If we are going to honor and authentically celebrate a life, the reception – the final celebration – should reflect the beauty and humanity of our loved one’s life and soul. Don’t feel limited by traditional conventions. Showing our gratitude and appreciation for a treasured loved one in a manner that befits that individual is the best tribute we could possibly offer.