Finding the space to grieve (literally)

Looking for an appropriate place to host a Celebration of Life or Memorial? Arranging a funeral, or memorial used to be simple.  The service in the church (mosque or synagogue) was led by the minister (Imam, Rabbi).  The food was made by the people of the church (mosque or synagogue).  In our modern day we turn to funeral homes and while they offer a space it can feel impersonal, and sometimes, it just doesn’t feel like the right place for your beloved.

In Vancouver, Mountain View Cemetery at Fraser and 33rd has their beautiful “Celebration Hall” it’s a flexible space designed for Memorials. It’s quiet, affordable, full of light and even has a screen should you want to show slides.  Of course, it’s in the Cemetery.

Some churches, and I trust other places of worship will allow you to use their space if it’s not busy or on a holy day.  They will charge a donation or minimal amount. You can bring in your own Celebrant to create a personal service for your loved one.  We held my father’s memorial in a church because it was the only space big enough in Victoria. He hadn’t wanted to be in a church.  However, we personalized the altar and a friend of the family conducted the service. This was more in keeping with his values. This is a beautiful option as it does immediately evoke the sacred.  However, people may not comfortable in a place of worship if they have had bad experiences – or just simply prefer a more neutral space.

It’s still important to find a sacred, meaningful place to hold a celebration of life or memorial, but where? Putting up a tent in a beautiful location is one simple solution.  Nature gives us a lovely sense of the sacred, and helps people access their emotions. My Mom’s Ceremony was at the beach in front of her home and it was deeply meaningful and sacred. However, privacy can be an issue in our city, and it rains from November to February in Vancouver so being in the beautiful outdoors isn’t always possible.

Now we move to less obvious places.  One family is using a theatre for the their Celebration of Life, another, reached out to the Stanley Park Pavilion.  Of course, all the glorious places that weddings are hosted, Van Dusen Gardens, UBC Botanical Gardens, Golf and Country Clubs, Restaurants that have a private room, Sailing Clubs, Tennis Clubs are all fantastic options.  Any place that has been used for a wedding will perhaps be more expensive but they will be well set up for the needs of a large crowd of people.

Consider the person you are honouring.  What did they love, where did they like to be and where did they want to go?  Where they formal? More relaxed?  Family-oriented?  Budget conscious, or extravagant?  The space, like everything in the Celebration of life can be reflective of who your beloved was.  How many people will be attending and how much can you spend.

Working with the team at Modern Celebrant (we’re all trained Funeral Celebrants) will help you gracefully find your way through the myriad of decisions that you face when someone dies.  Keep it simple, and allow the space and the ceremony to reflect your values and those of your beloved.

Funeral Celebrant Michele Davidson

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