What to Say at a Celebration of Life Service

A celebration of life service is different from a traditional funeral. As the name implies, this type of service is more of a celebration of the person’s life. Therefore, it’s more joyful and less somber. It’s also more informal and less structured.

The cremation of the deceased’s ashes is usually displayed in an urn rather than displaying the body.

During a celebration of life, many of the departed’s loved ones are invited to share their fond thoughts and memories of the person. After experiencing a loss, it can be difficult to piece together an appropriate speech. There are hundreds of topics that you can talk about, as well as topics that are best avoided.

Nerves and your emotions can get in the way of a heartfelt public speech. The unique opportunity to give your loved one a poignant goodbye while comforting close family and friends is understandably a lot of pressure.

If you’re participating in a celebration of life service, we understand your desire to give a close friend, partner, or family member a proper send-off. Let us help you during this difficult time. Together, let’s craft the perfect way to express your respect, gratitude, and thoughts.

Words of Comfort

A celebration of life focuses on the happy moments and positive sentiments inspired by the deceased. However, you shouldn’t altogether repress your grief. It’s important to let people know that they are not alone in their loss. Everyone should feel comfortable in sharing their grief and feel supported so the healing process can begin.

Comforting and warm words can help others feel at ease and less isolated. You can say things like, “Your loved one did everything with their family in mind,” or “They talked about you every day. They were so proud of you.”

These statements don’t compromise the celebratory vein of the event but still provide much-needed reassurance. You can put people at ease by reminding them how much they were loved by the one who passed away.


Storytelling is a powerful tool to show just how dear a person is to you. They can also perfectly encapsulate someone’s personality and character. You can choose to share an inspiring or amusing memory that will have people smiling and chuckling along with you.

For example, you can share advice that the person shared with you during a challenging time in your life. If they were a great role model or a mentor, you could tell people how the person inspired and affected you.

Anecdotes need to be personal so think back on the most meaningful interactions you had that impacted you deeply. Those are the memories that people will love to hear during a celebration of life.

Commemorating Their Achievements

Keep the atmosphere celebratory and joyous by sharing their achievements with guests. During a time of grief, guests need to be reminded that the deceased was a person who had a fulfilling life.

Remember those achievements can be subjective. Don’t be limited to academic or professional accomplishments. Success can mean that they raised beautiful children, maintained a close relationship with their partner, or were consistently good neighbors who were always ready to lend a hand.

When deciding on which achievements you want to mention during the service, try to pick the one that meant the most to you. More than half the battle in making a meaningful celebration of life speech is sincerity. If you choose an accomplishment that affected you personally in some way, it’s bound to be more heartfelt and will better resonate with your audience.

Sharing a Special Poem

If you’re naturally creative, you can express your thoughts in a poem that you read aloud during the service. You can also borrow someone else’s words if you prefer by quoting appropriate lines that best capture the person.

When writing a poem, make sure that other people can identify with the story or sentiment you’ll be sharing. If it pertains to an incident that few know about, preface your recitation with a few words so that others understand the context of what you’re describing.

End With a Message of Inspiration and Hope

After an emotional speech or toast, it’s always important to uplift the mood of those in attendance. Acknowledging the difficulty in processing a loss is difficult for the bereaved family, thus delivering messages of inspiration and hope to them is a great way to end a heartfelt speech.

Be sincere with your ending message. This closing statement has to have a lasting impact on the family and guests. Let them know that everyone in the room is part of the support system they need to recover and that they can sleep comfortably at night knowing that everybody is rallying behind them.

This closing statement can be a combination of an anecdote explaining how cheerful or free-spirited the deceased was, or it can also be the philosophy of the deceased in going about everyday life. Choosing what you’ll say in closing is completely up to you as long as it resonates with the atmosphere and puts your audience at ease.

Subjects To Avoid

Just as there are right things to say during a celebration of life speech, there are also sentiments and memories that are best avoided. Here are a couple of things you’ll want to avoid:

  • Being narcissistic: The last thing you want is to make a speech about yourself in a celebration of life. While everything you share should be personal, it should ultimately reflect and be related to the person who passed away.
  • Being negative and dismissive of grief: Avoid using phrases that have negative undertones such as “I’ve experienced more difficulties than this, I’m sure you’ll get over it too,” or “It gets easier with time.” These statements can be viewed as insensitive and inconsiderate of what the bereaved are going through.
  • Too much focus on grief and loss: Acknowledge grief and loss but don’t make them the focus of your speech. Focus on uplifting, inspiring, and comforting sentiments that validate how others are feeling. You should also avoid potentially traumatizing topics like hospitalization and how the person suffered before dying.
  • Sharing secrets of the deceased: As a confidante of the deceased, you may share personal stories of the two of you to make the mood is lighter. However, spilling secrets that have been entrusted to you is not the proper way to commemorate them.

Beyond Speeches: Other Ways of Honoring a Departed Loved One

Perhaps you’ve never been good with words or maybe you find it too difficult to express your sympathy due to your own grief. There are other meaningful ways you can relay your condolences and remember the person you lost.

Why not look into cremation jewelry and keepsakes? If the immediate family allows you to have a small portion of the person’s cremains, you can have them fashioned into beautiful glass art, a necklace, or a paperweight to remember them by.

You can give them as gifts or keep them for yourself as a cherished representation of the one you lost.


When holding a memorial or a celebration of life, the most important thing is to honor the person with your words. Does your speech bring to light the best aspects of that person? Does it inspire people? Does it leave them with a positive feeling of encouragement or inspiration? Evaluate what you’re planning to say by these questions and you’ll have a well-received and meaningful speech.