Losing a parent is never easy, even when they have lived a long and happy life. Often, people feel isolated in their grief. As a result, the grieving process becomes even more difficult.
Holding an event to mark the passing of your parent can help you feel like you aren’t alone. Family and friends of your parent can join together to support each other in their time of loss.
These end-of-life celebrations might not appear to be a big deal, but they can have a profound effect on the healing of those still alive.
Here are some tips for how to plan an end-of-life celebration for your senior parent and a look at how we celebrate life at Parentis Health.
What is an end-of-life celebration?
An end-of-life celebration is any type of event meant to mark the passage of a loved one from life into death.
Depending on the personalities of the deceased person and the family, this event could be a casual, contemplative affair or a full-blown party with all the works.
They can involve following specific cultural or religious practices that were meaningful to the person or their family, telling the story of your loved one’s life, or consoling those that they leave behind. Often it’s a combination of the three.
In the past, end-of-life events followed strict cultural or religious guidelines. However, in modern days, there’s more room for creativity. Consequently, you can design an event that more uniquely reflects your parent’s personality and the relationship that you had with them.
Why have a celebration of life?
While end-of-life services are technically about the deceased person, there’s a lot of truth in the saying that “funerals are for the living”.
An end-of-life celebration can serve several functions to those who knew the deceased. They can:
Help the family and friends of the deceased publicly acknowledge the common loss they have faced.
Support those who are grieving by surrounding them with caring friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors.
Help move the deceased person from one social status to another in the minds of those they knew.
How to plan an end-of-life celebration
In short, an end-of-life celebration can be pretty much anything you want it to be. While a traditional funeral may be less flexible, other gathering styles are less burdened by social expectations. You can plan a celebration that fits who your parent was as a person.
Some tips for how to plan an end-of-life celebration include:
If possible, ask your loved one how they want to be remembered before they pass. Don’t assume what you think they would want. You may be surprised to learn that a very non-traditional parent wants a religious ceremony or a seemingly buttoned-up parent would prefer to be remembered with an upbeat event.
Consider logistics. Are your parent’s friends and family located close by or would they need to travel for an event? This can affect the timing of the event or where it’s held as a result. Thanks to technology, those who can’t physically attend may be able to participate virtually.
Make sure the event meets the emotional needs of the guests. Think about who will be there and what they are likely to want or need depending on the relationships they had with the deceased.
Incorporate the unique lifestyle and personality characteristics of your parent. Did they have a favorite type of music, hobby, or refreshment? You can include a little or a lot of these touches in their celebration.
What different types of end-of-life celebrations are there?
End-of-life celebrations are as unique as the lives they are meant to memorialize. As a result, you can choose a specific type of celebration or even combine elements of different celebrations to create something original for your parent.
Here are some common types of end-of-life celebrations to inspire your planning.
Traditional end-of-life celebrations include practices related to the culture or religion that your parent was a part of. In the United States, they tend to be mournful events with loved ones attending a funeral mass, sitting shiva, or attending a wake. However, other cultures might have traditions that include dancing or singing. Either type may include specific foods, music, or rituals that comfort loved ones.
A living funeral is a unique type of celebration that takes place before the celebrant passes away. This allows the person to “attend their own funeral” and gives them an opportunity to say goodbye to friends and family and clear any unresolved business before passing away. It’s not unusual for a person who has a terminal illness and knows that they will pass away soon to choose this type of service.
Dedicating a memorial item
Some people choose to dedicate a specific item in their parent’s honor. Depending on the specific item, you can unveil it at the celebration or send out tokens that remind family and friends of the item. Some common items dedicated to a loved one who has passed on include:
Planting a memorial tree
Naming a star in their honor
Having a variety of rose named for them
Planting a memorial garden
Placing a plaque in a meaningful place
Have a charity event
If there was a specific charity or cause that was important to your parent, you could hold a one-time or annual event to raise money for charity in your loved one’s name. Most importantly, this brings a community together to support the grieving family and create something good out of loss by supporting a worthy mission. (floorshields.com)
End-of-life celebrations don’t have to be large, fancy events. Sometimes the best way to honor a parent who has passed is to get a few friends and family members together to enjoy a favorite activity of your loved one. Maybe they had a favorite sport, movie, restaurant, or hobby? Get together for the afternoon and share memories while you engage in the activity.