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  #1  
Old 11/19/08, 10:31 AM
 
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What should I expect at a "Celebration of Life" service?

We have been deeply saddened this week by the passing of a friend's wife.

I have had a business relationship with Ray for 15 years. The passing of his wife has been tragic, especially at the young age of 48. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about 6 months ago.

While I had only met Ray's wife once, we followed and prayed for her through this illness.

They are having a 'celebration of life' this Saturday from 3:00 to 8:00 pm at a VFW hall.

I hate to sound naive, but what should we expect?

How do we dress?

Ray and his wife have been very active in a heavy metal band that Ray started years ago. I would say that aside from their Harley, the band was their major hobby.

I really don't know what to expect, and I don't personally know anyone that I could call to ask.

I am not sure if this is going to be a solemn open house, or a hog roast, kegger and a band.

Again, we are very saddened. Ray thought that the sun rose and set with his wife.

Words of wisdom, anyone?

Clove

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Old 11/19/08, 11:26 AM
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I would treat it like most any other 'funeral'. Having said that...I realize there are lots of different ways to bury the dead.

To me, a "celebration of life" would me a more joyful experience vs a tearful remembrance. Perhaps it's what she wanted? She knew she was dying. I still find it hard not to be sad, however. We know we will miss the loved one terribly.

I'd go dressed as I normally would to church. Then once you are there, you can take your 'cues' from the rest of the attendees.

God bless & prayers for the deceased.

Patty

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Old 11/19/08, 11:33 AM
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You need to ask someone involved in the planning because its probably going to be different for each region or family. Some people would plan a quiet dinner with maybe some stories while others would plan a 'going away party' with drinking and dancing.

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Old 11/19/08, 11:34 AM
 
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Patty,
Thank you for the kind reply.
I write this with tears in my eyes...It is so sad.
Ray told me several months ago that Tammy was making her arrangements.
I am so overcome with emotion right now.
Clove

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  #5  
Old 11/19/08, 11:38 AM
 
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Originally Posted by watcher View Post
You need to ask someone involved in the planning because its probably going to be different for each region or family. Some people would plan a quiet dinner with maybe some stories while others would plan a 'going away party' with drinking and dancing.
Watcher,
Part of the problem is that I just don't know any of their friends. It has been a business relationship, albeit a strong and positive one, and nothing more.

Now that I think about it, I do know a friend of a friend of a friend. If I can get ahold of him, maybe he will know.

Clove
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Old 11/19/08, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
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You need to ask someone involved in the planning because its probably going to be different for each region or family. Some people would plan a quiet dinner with maybe some stories while others would plan a 'going away party' with drinking and dancing.
I agree.I'm planning when I go Big BBQ,Dance,down on the River.Throw my ashes in the river.

big rockpile
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  #7  
Old 11/19/08, 12:38 PM
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I lost my husband in February. Instead of everyone mourning his loss, I decided that we needed to have a celebration of his life. I had it at our house. My sisters & sister-in-law did up quite a food assortment, my brother-in-law made a slide show on the computer, of pictures of Steve, that played during the whole time people were at the house. Most of our friends wore jeans and brought beer. People took turns standing up and talking about how they knew Steve, funny stories, etc.

I have tears in my eyes typing this. . . so, go to the celebration and think of how the person would like to be remembered, then honor them in that way.

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Old 11/19/08, 03:51 PM
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We had a Celebration of Life for our Dad. It was a lot more cheerful than a wake. Expect to eat, enjoy pictures, and share good memories.

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Old 11/19/08, 06:44 PM
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My brother passed away a couple of years back. We gave over arrangements to his friends. They had a celebration of life party and spread his ashes at Daytona.

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  #10  
Old 11/19/08, 07:32 PM
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Thats what i want a celebration of life! I hate funerals.. But who like them? Sorry for your loss though she was young. Praying for her family.

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  #11  
Old 11/19/08, 07:49 PM
 
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Thank you all for your kind replies.

I feel a little more prepared to attend now.

I can roll with whatever they have planned, but didn't know what to expect in the least.

Thank you for sharing with me. I know it has been difficult for some of you to tell me about COL.

As a side note, I see how much people care about Ray and Tammy. You see, Ray has been a staple in the printing business for years, in a business that prints stuff for printers. The Indy area printing industry is abuzz with the news about Ray's wife, even though none of us ever met her more than once or twice.

Clove

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Old 11/19/08, 07:50 PM
 
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I would love to hear more input, if anyone cares to share.

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  #13  
Old 11/19/08, 08:37 PM
 
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I suggest you dress rather informally, since they rode a Harley, had a rock band and it will be at the VFW hall. Just expect a gathering of friends where people will share memories, tell a few stories about your friend's wife, maybe toast her with a beer, have a light buffet spread. There will probably be pictures of her in happier times. When you first arrive, seek out her husband and offer your sympathy. The overall mood will be solemn but not heavy. Sometimes there is an artificially cheerful mood at these gatherings just to keep from sinking into uncontrollable grief. Someone will take the lead in setting the tone, probably her husband or a relative. He will be very appreciative that you show up to lend support. A nice gesture would be to call someone ahead of time and ask if you can bring some food and then hang around to help clean up afterwards. Then when you leave, maybe tell him that if you can be of any help, if he needs to talk, etc. to don't hesitate to call.

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  #14  
Old 11/19/08, 08:48 PM
 
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I think I am going in a sweater and jeans, as will my wife.

Our DD7 is going to go to grandma's for the evening.

I am still not sure what time to arrive. Since it starts at 3:00 and goes til 8:00, I will guess that this is an open house type deal. Am I correct?

Again, thank you for your replies.

They have meant alot to me.

Clove

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  #15  
Old 11/19/08, 09:16 PM
 
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Yes, it is an open house type thing. They have rented the hall for those hours.

ETA: I would aim for a 3-3:30 arrival.

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Old 11/19/08, 09:17 PM
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I can tell you about the celebration of life we had for my BIL earlier this year. Chris passed away in his sleep at 32 last year on Christmas Eve without warning (heart). When we went to go make arrangements the thought of having a formal funeral at the funeral home, just did not seem right, it is not what Chris would have wanted. I feel peace in this area that we did the right thing.

It was held at a gourmet type pizza place. We had music, a dvd slide show prepared for us by BamaNana, and an hour to an hour and a half of sharing by friends. We had a stage and microphone. There were probably 200 people attending with pizza, beer, and soft drinks. It was nice, if there can be such a thing. Mostly people dressed casually. Just having you there will be special to the family, sweater and jeans will be perfect.

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  #17  
Old 11/20/08, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by clovis View Post
Patty,
Thank you for the kind reply.
I write this with tears in my eyes...It is so sad.
Ray told me several months ago that Tammy was making her arrangements.
I am so overcome with emotion right now.
Clove
It IS so sad...we just naturally figure only 'old' people go. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Patty
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  #18  
Old 11/20/08, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by squeakyzig View Post
I lost my husband in February. Instead of everyone mourning his loss, I decided that we needed to have a celebration of his life. I had it at our house. My sisters & sister-in-law did up quite a food assortment, my brother-in-law made a slide show on the computer, of pictures of Steve, that played during the whole time people were at the house. Most of our friends wore jeans and brought beer. People took turns standing up and talking about how they knew Steve, funny stories, etc.

I have tears in my eyes typing this. . . so, go to the celebration and think of how the person would like to be remembered, then honor them in that way.
I'm so sorry for your loss, as well. Prayers & good thoughts...

Patty
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  #19  
Old 11/20/08, 08:05 AM
 
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It doesn't matter that you didn't know his wife well. You are basically going to show your support for the husband who you do know. I went to a celebration of life with my son last week for one of his friends. It was basically a gathering to remember her and show support for her family. I had only met her once, but I know her family appreciated everyone who came and shared the time with them.

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  #20  
Old 11/23/08, 11:04 AM
 
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Well, just an update.

We attended Tammie's celebration of life last night.

You hit the nail on the head!!!! Every poster that was kind enough to share their experience was exactly what we experienced.

The COL was held at a VFW hall. They held a rememberance ceremony where they told stories and talked about their life experiences with Tammie, and what she meant to them. I am sorry to admit that we went late and missed this portion, as did many others. I am not sure I would have had enough kleenex to wipe away those tears.

They had a large screen set up, with a power point projector with pictures...lots of pictures. I enjoyed seeing the pictures because I felt like I learned about her life. These photos ranged from the black and white baby pictures of the early 60's, thru teenage pictures of the 70's, then the 80's, and on. It was a wonderful way to celebrate her life, and I wonder why we don't show photos at everyone's funeral.

Lots of food. Lots and lots of it.

There was an 'artificial joy', and the family set the tone. They were very sad, but I think they were encouraged at the same time buy the outpouring of support. The family stood in one place most of the evening, and an informal recieving line took place. It was a good way to enter when we arrived and when we left.

I have a new appreciation for celebration of life ceremonies.

Again, thank you for your replies.

Clove

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