I have never deliberated so much when it has come to writing a blog post. I have opened and shut my computer so many times and found countless other things to do rather than sit down and type. However, as I am currently learning, there’s no way around grief other than straight through the very middle of it. And I’m hoping this blog post about how to plan a Celebration of Life service will not only be good for me, but hopefully for many other people out there too.
The D Word
It’s not a post about the D word. No-one wants to google that at the very best of times. In fact, it’s about the very opposite. Life. It’s about the birth of someone so unbelievably special you just have to celebrate it. It’s about the joy that person brought to your life and others by just being in the world. And it’s about letting LIFE define that wonderful person and everything they were– not death.
It’s happened to me.
As I sit here writing this, I still can’t quite believe that I am. I lost my precious mum at the end of July this year, the day before my birthday. She was still young, incredibly beautiful (Miss Pontins Beauty Queen 1977) and a true inspiration. She was also extremely practical, innately creative and a real supporter of everything I made for Vintage Twee. Which is the very reason why I am writing this.
Planning a funeral for someone you love is one of the hardest tasks you will ever face. There’s no hiding from it. I was picking out the colour of my mum’s casket on my birthday. It’s surreal and it’s excruciatingly painful. And it’s just so unbelievably unfair.
Mum was a brave and beautiful woman who deserved a service as beautiful as she was. Our task as a family was to capture the very essence of her soul in a service that would honour and celebrate her life for everything that she was, rather than mourn everything that she could no longer be. We’ve never been a family who’ve run away from our fears. Instead, we stick stronger together and play the cards that this life deals us. The result of this abominable hand? A wonderful and individual celebration that left everyone telling them it was the BEST funeral they had ever been to.
What is a Celebration of Life service?
A Celebration of Life service is exactly that. A way to cherish and celebrate the life of someone special that you have lost in a positive, uplifting way. It provides an alternative to a traditional funeral service by allowing you to embrace everything that made that person who they were, capturing their true essence and personality. Celebration of Life services can be held for anyone of any age but I have worked with an increasing amount of customers over the years who have lost loved ones of a young age and requested my work for Celebration of Life ceremonies.
Why it’s a good thing
I know it’s not for everyone. Some people may even find it slightly controversial. But all I know is that if it hadn’t have been for the amazing service that myself, my dad and my sister managed to pull off, it would have been a whole lot harder on the day.
- It’s all about them. Their favourite colours, style, flowers, songs..it was like mum was there and we loved that feeling. We chose an elegant theme with a vintage twist since she loved anything pretty. We picked a dusky pink casket with rose gold handles. Our flowers were fit for a wedding – pink and white avalanche roses, arranged by the fantastic ladies at Hazel Grove Flowers. They even created two perfect flower bunnies from mum’s grandchildren. We ordered some fabulous wooden toppers from the wonderful Victoria from Victoria’s Stitches who was an absolute angel and customised these last minute for us with our choice of wording. They arrived super quickly, giving us time to spray paint them rose gold to match the casket handles. They stood proudly amongst the flowers – on trend, elegant and very mum 🙂
- It helps you. Mum was as much a part of Vintage Twee as me, working with me every Tuesday and wrapping everyone’s orders up so beautifully. I felt it was only right that I created some special items for such an important day. It gave me focus, drive and a sense of purpose. Being surrounded by colour and pretty things that I knew she would have loved lifted my soul and managed my grief. Myself, my sister and my dad found it helped keep our mindset focused and channelled the immense sadness we felt into creating something wonderful and deserving for mum.
How to capture their personality
The service and the items that we created were simply beautiful and a true reflection of mum. We achieved this by thinking of everything that made mum who she was and this was done through many different ways.
There was nothing mum loved more than dressing up. My dad had a blue tailored suit and looked so smart. My sister and I chose outfits as if we were attending the Royal Wedding. I wore a floral dress that I recently modelled in for a lifestyle magazine shoot and Emma looked demure in a pencil skirt, silky shirt and neck scarf. We both wore our tallest pair of heels. Myself, Emma and my dad rested mum’s casket on our shoulders with my uncles to carry her tall and proud into a room full of her family and friends.
What was their favourite colour? We incorporated mum’s love for light and bright shades of pinks and ivory into the casket, flowers, Order of Service and other stationery. I made thank you gifts in the same colour scheme for all the staff at The Meadows in Stockport who showed extreme kindness to mum and supported us in those weeks she was with them.
We decided on a vintage theme with a touch of modern which we achieved by adding elements of rose gold to the day. I created the Order of Service booklets – mum never wanted her photo on them so we went for roses, pearl hearts and lace! Our guests loved them and took them home to treasure.
To continue the vintage theme, we chose one of mum’s favourite places – the Ash Tea Rooms – in Stockport to invite our guests back for a buffet fit for The Beauty Queen Miss Pontins herself!!! Mum was a customer for over 30 years and she found any excuse to order a cake from there… So what better place to celebrate. We had all of mum’s favourites – mini everything! Scones, macarons, vol au vents, duck spring rolls, quiches. And of course, wine and Prosecco to raise a toast.
One of the most powerful ways to express how you feel about that person. I haven’t stopped listening to the songs we chose since that day. They don’t make me sad. They actually remind me of how proud I felt sat on that front row. I let the Jackson 5’s ‘I’ll Be There’ tell everyone in that room how grateful I was that this woman was my mum. I even took the petals from the flowers of mum’s bouquet and made them into a keepsake piece of art for my wall, incorporating the words of the song.
These made the day so personal. We had beautiful framed photos of mum and her family positioned around the room. I created Memory Postcards for guests to fill in with their favourite happy memory of mum. They then placed these inside the Memory Album I made. Colourful pens in rose gold pots, polka dot napkins and a soundtrack of lovely songs in the background made it feel like a true celebration.
Celebration of Life Services by Vintage Twee
After my experience and many requests for customers looking for items for this kind of celebration, I decided to officially extend my range to include products for beautiful memorial services. I’m sure it won’t be an easy task. Nor one that my customers will ever want to face. But knowing how it felt to help myself, my family and all of mum’s friends on that day was enough to make me want to do it.
We felt so proud of what we had achieved. The love that we have for mum was so evident through everything we had organised. It became a day to cherish rather than dread. A day to remember for the right reasons. A day that we chose to celebrate life in a way that captured mum perfectly. We didn’t let such a sad event define her. Instead we embraced everything that she was in the best way we knew how.
Vintage Twee’s new range is available to view on the website here. If you are thinking of holding a Celebration of Life service and would like help creating some special items, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can do so via the contact form or alternatively email email@example.com Xxx