Do we underestimate the power of ceremony?

Studies tell us that people want their end-of-life ceremony to be transformative. They want a creative ceremony that focuses on their life story, not their death story. They want their loved ones to feel deeply connected to each other and to other survivors.

We all need a place to go with our love, grief and memories when someone we care about dies.

And yet, too many families walk through the doors of funeral homes with the request of “nothing.” Or perhaps they do opt for a funeral, but end up feeling nothing because it lacks depth and meaning. Whether families choose no ceremony or a cookie-cutter funeral that leaves them and their guests cold and empty, an opportunity to impact all who attended has been missed.

We have seen a significant shift away from traditional funerals in North America. The term “Celebration of Life” has been widely embraced but, for many, this phrase suggests that we replace funeral ceremonies with celebratory parties. These concepts don’t need to be mutually exclusive. It is possible to have a “Celebration of Life” that includes meaningful ceremonial and ritual elements, along with storytelling, connection and, yes, even laughter. A good ceremony allows space for all emotions to be felt.

In a well-crafted and well-delivered ceremony, whether in a chapel, graveside, golf course or beach, the words spoken, the feelings evoked, and the symbolic rituals enacted have the potential to transform every single person who attends that ceremony.


Appreciate why ceremonies and rituals are important in our lives;

Recognize and understand the elements of a good ceremony;

Gain confidence in their ability to be more involved in the ceremony process and its outcome;

Know the questions to ask a family to ensure a good fit with the chosen officiant;

Learn how to transform an ordinary funeral experience into an extraordinary one;

Understand how to better serve the “We don’t want anything” families.


Presentations that foster connection through shared experience.

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