A benefit of working in this industry is that I can help my friends during a difficult time. After 13 years of working in the celebration of life industry, I haven’t had to attend many services personally. I often help friends and distant family who are planning a funeral/celebration of life by sending them my products.
However, recently I went to two celebrations of life, one for a friend who passed from a stroke and another for my good friend’s mother whom I was very close to. Going to these services shifted my perspective on how my products turned what could have felt like a funeral into a unique celebration of life.
I was able to provide both services with my memory cards and for the first time, was able to see these cards in use. The front of the cards say “My Special Memory of You” and are designed for friends and family attending the service to write down a poignant memory or moment that was shared with the deceased. Everyone at the service receives one of these cards to create a collage of memories.
The service for my friend’s mother, Judy, took place in a picturesque, Unitarian church in Belleview, Washington in a beautiful Pacific Northwestern forest. At the church, Judy’s college-aged grandchildren handed out the memory cards and the people attending the funeral wrote down their favorite memories of Judy.
At the reception, held at the Mercer Island Beach Club, unbeknownst to me, her son-in-law read these cards aloud to the audience so that people didn’t have to get up and feel uncomfortable while sharing their memories in front of others. After only a few cards, there were noticeable themes and characteristics about Judy that people remembered most. It was clear that her friendliness and easy-going attitude would be missed by many.
The nice thing about having her son-in-law read the cards is that often people are not comfortable getting up in front of a group and sharing their recollections, having him read what people had written at the church put everyone at ease. Often only a few people give a eulogy or speak but this was a great way for more of the family and friends in attendance to share their memories.
The service for my friend, Eric, took place at the Cliff House in San Francisco overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Everyone was given a memory card to write down their favorite thing they remembered about Eric while enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres. The cards were not read aloud, however they played an extremely important role in his celebration of life. His parents live in the midwest and were not able to attend the service due to their age and heath. It was sad knowing how much they would have liked to attend. All his friends were happy to fill out a card sharing their memories of Eric knowing his parents were going to find comfort in reading them.