One of more challenging weddings I ever performed was for a Groom who had been diagnosed with cancer. Three months after their August wedding I officiated his Celebration of Life. It was a humbling experience. It was a great honor. It was a cold November day, made warm by the presence of over 300 family, friends and co-workers.

When it comes to Memorials like this, again, I keep it simple. As is my style and nature, I do not offer any religious commentary. My principle objective is to make people feel safe and comfortable enough to be honest with the myriad of emotions they are and will be experiencing. I understand tears but I also encourage laughter...both have healing properties! 

I meet with the family privately a few days prior to get acquainted and go over the details. The memorial day itself should be in two parts. The first a formal, yet relaxed time, to pay tribute, to celebrate the life and times of the individual. The second, an informal time to sit and eat and love each other. After Officiating my Grandma’s Celebration of Life (age 97) we honored her with her two favorite things. Seafood and Scotch!

The first part is where my main responsibility and concern will be.I do my best to simply facilitate and serve as a bookend. In short, the order of service, about 30-60 minutes will look something like this.


About 10 minutes, I welcome everyone, encourage them to feel at ease. I bring a few simple thoughts about why we are there, to celebrate a life! I only add religious/spiritual content if the family requests it. I also say a few things about the life and legacy of the individual, as gleaned from my pre-ceremony session with the family.


Because many times, I have not had the opportunity to meet the deceased, I call upon family members and friends to give, or read a tribute. At the pre-service session I ask the family to choose 2-3 people to bring a tribute, or eulogy. This can be tough, but is necessary. Tell stories, share memories, good times, even funny things. Celebrate the good! And, sometimes the family requests an “Open Mike” time. Again, I stay close by to introduce the various presenters and handle the “Open Mike” folks.  Also, it is easy to put a 5-7 minute slideshow on a computer these days. A great idea!


I wrap up by thanking everyone again, for their attendance and participation. I bring a brief, 5 minute closing, and encouraging thought and then announce the second half of the Celebration of LIfe. The reception time. Let’s eat, lets love, let’s share community.

“To live in hearts, we leave behind, is not to die.”


Brent Sheppard (rev)

TEL: (604) 574-7731





“Your help in handling a tough time is so appreciated. Thanks for meeting with us, for showing us a way to celebrate my Mom’s life and honor her memory. I know she was there with us and is pleased .

Thanks again for handling a tough situation with such grace!”

Celebrations of Life