Not into funerals? How to plan a celebration of life instead

Published 4:20 pm Thursday, November 9, 2017

By Glenn Coleman/Coleman Funeral Home

“We only want a cremation or burial. We don’t want a funeral.”

You might be surprised by how often we hear that, when families come to our office after a loved one’s death.

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It’s not that they don’t care about the person they’ve lost. It’s that they don’t want to replicate the kind of funerals and visitations they’ve been to.

Traditionally, of course, we accept people’s condolences in a receiving line and gather for a service in a chapel or church. For many of us, there’s comfort in walking through those familiar rituals after the loss of a loved one.

But plenty of people don’t feel that way. To avoid having a traditional visitation and funeral, they’d choose to have no memorial gathering at all.

Fortunately for those families, there are plenty of other ways to bring people together to celebrate a life. Here are four ways to rethink the traditional funeral:

Give yourself time

Particularly here in the South, families tend to feel an urgency about having some type of service as soon as possible after a death.

But especially as more people choose cremation, families have more time than they may realize to plan a memorial event. The priority becomes scheduling around people who are traveling from out-of-town, and making sure the event is full of meaning for everyone.

When you’re celebrating the life of someone you’ve loved, it’s less important to do it quickly than to do it well.

Make it personal

How can you make a memorial gathering personal? By reflecting all the passions, experiences and relationships that made your loved one’s life unique.

One of our favorite things to hear from families after a memorial event is “She would have loved that,” or “It felt just like him.” That lets us know the event was done right.

Whether you’re making your own arrangements in advance or planning a loved one’s memorial, we invite you to go beyond just giving your funeral director the standard obituary information.

What gave your loved one the most joy in life? What kind of music did they love?  Where was their favorite place to travel?

The more your funeral director can understand about the person you’ve lost, the more he or she can design a memorial that captures who they were.

Be creative

As funerals evolve to become more casual and personalized, there’s no limit today to what families can plan to honor their loved one. At Coleman Funeral Home, we have an in-house professional event director who works with families to plan events that truly reflect the loved one they’ve lost.

What does that look like? Here are some examples from this past year at Coleman Funeral Home:

  • For a tailgating enthusiast — We transformed our chapel into the Grove, with food and drinks served beneath an Ole Miss tent bedecked in red-and-blue twinkle lights. Burlap tablecloths and a bouquet of cotton bolls made for a festive, Southern scene.
  • For a singer — Friends played a song they had written for the late woman in her youth, when she’d been a singer in a church trio and on the radio. A tailored playlist of favorite songs played before and after storytelling and reminiscing.
  • For a veteran — A bagpiper played songs the family had chosen, then a custom video showcased the military service of the late man and his family. After a simple service, family members who had come together from a distance shared a meal together while the man’s favorite music played and old home movies showed on the projector.

Set your own budget

When families feel free to reinterpret tradition, there’s no limit to the possibilities in how they choose to honor a life. Except, of course, when it comes to cost.

For some families, the decision not to have a funeral service comes down to expense. But families have options in that category, too. A memorial gathering doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. And it’s our experience that having even the simplest memorial gathering can help begin the healing process, and save you from regrets down the road.

How can your family plan ahead for meaningful memorials within your budget? By shopping around for funeral care, just like you would any other service.

At Coleman Funeral Home, people are often surprised to find they can get all the services they need for half as much money as they expected to pay. We believe a high-quality, meaningful service should be within reach for everyone. We also post all our prices on our website at, so that you can make the best choices for your family.

Give us a call at (662) 234-3900 or come visit us at 601 Commerce Parkway, off Highway 7 South. Let’s talk about how to make sure your memorial gathering is exactly what you want it to be.

This article appeared in The Oxford Eagle as sponsored content.

Glenn Coleman