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What to Say at a Celebration of Life: How to Honor Someone Special

A celebration of life service is a wonderful opportunity to honor a passed loved one. What to say at a celebration of life is challenging though.

Finding the right words to celebrate and remember someone special to you isn’t easy. But you can focus what you say on uplifting memories, expressing what the deceased meant to you and highlighting what sort of person they were. All of this and more can help create a meaningful tribute.

So use this guide to help you choose the right things to say at a celebration of life and pay tribute to a loved one in the best way possible.

What to Say at a Celebration of Life

The following examples and tips should help you to find the right things to say.

Reflect on Positive Memories

Reflecting and sharing memories you have of the deceased is a great way to honor them. It can be something like a special moment you had with them or a favorite story involving you both. Anything that is positive and joyous rather than focusing on the sadness of the loss.

For example you could talk about:

  • Inside jokes or adventures you had together as friends.
  • Funny or touching memories from your childhood if it was a parent or grandparent.
  • Their ability to make everyone laugh and the way they would lighten up the room.
  • How they brought your family together with their amazing cooking or holiday traditions.

You want it to be happy moments. Say what you admired most about them and the qualities that made them such a wonderful person.

Say How Much They Meant to You

You might also want to go into why the deceased was such a special person in your life. You could talk about how they made you feel loved, how they inspired you or supported you through difficult times.

Again, stick with the most uplifting and celebratory moments about them. For example maybe they:

  • Were always there to listen and offer advice when you needed guidance.
  • Encouraged you to pursue your dreams even when you doubted yourself.
  • Supported you through tough times in your life.
  • Showed you kindness, patience or other values you still carry today.
  • Taught you important life lessons that shaped who you are.

It doesn’t matter how big or small. If they impacted your life in some way it’s worth mentioning.

Highlight Their Personality

You can really go deep into their personality when talking at a celebration of life. What were some quirky traits they had, what did they do that you found really endearing. Anything that set them apart or made them one of a kind.

Bring up specific interests, quirks, habits or silly interactions that capture their spirit.

For example:

  • Their obsession with a favorite sports team or TV show.
  • Weird but tasty food combinations they loved.
  • The way their face lit up when talking about their passions.
  • The funny voice they used when reading bedtime stories.

Those are just a few ideas that would give an insight into their personality. It will show how unique they were and the reasons you found them such an interesting an amazing friend/family member.

Share Meaningful Quotes

An inspirational quote, saying or poem that really sums up what the person you are honoring was like is a good choose to include. Pick quotes that either they loved or that remind you of them.

Some ideas:

  • “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Greene
  • “Do not go gentle into that good night.” – Dylan Thomas
  • “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller
  • “When the sun comes up, I have morals again.” – Elayne Boosler

Choose quotes that are either uplifting about life and loss or that they were especially fond of. For more ideas try these celebration of life quotes.

Offer Comfort to the Family

The family and friends of the deceased will be feeling the loss the hardest. Even at a celebration of life it’s still a good idea to acknowledge their grief and the difficulty they will have adjusting to life without their loved one.

Try saying:

  • I know how much [name] meant to you and understand how deeply you will miss them.
  • Comforting words can’t erase your pain but I hope our happy memories together sustain you.
  • They’ll live on in your heart and in the lives they touched.

You can offer reassurance that their memory and spirit will live on through the stories, traditions and the love they gave. Try this guide for what to say when someone dies for more ideas.

Be Personal

Always speak from the heart and using your own words. You want to be authentic and reflect the relationship you had with the deceased.

So don’t hold back from showing emotions, even difficult ones like guilt or sadness. Make what you say personal so your tribute is as meaningful and genuine as possible.


As you end sum up the significance of the deceaseds person’s life. Express your gratitude for having known them, learned from them and created cherished memories with them.

End on an uplifting note and talk about he joy they brought not only to you but to the world.

Some ideas:

  • [name] truly lived life to its fullest inspiring those around him to embrace each day.
  • [name]’s laughter and joy will stay with me the rest of my life. I’m forever changed for having known her.
  • [name] left this world far too soon but the impact he made will last for generations.
  • We will miss [name] deeply but her spirit lives on in the kindness she brought out in others.

You should finish by celebrating their memory and the influence they had on your life. Remind everyone that while grief is profound so was the deceaseds place in your heart.

What to Say in a Speech or Eulogy During a Celebration of Life

If you have been asked to give a speech or eulogy at a celebration of life then you should focus on the positives. Much of your eulogy will be similar to the advice already given here.

So highlight their best qualities, share your favorite memories and talk about how they impacted you. Talk about their passions, talents and their spirit.

The main areas your speech should touch on are:

  • Uplifting anecdotes and moments that capture the heart and soul of the deceased.
  • Appreciation for having known them.
  • Comfort for grieving family and friends

Opening Words for a Celebration of Life

If you’re struggling with the opening lines of your speech or eulogy follow these examples:

  • “We gather here today to remember the remarkable life of [name].”
  • “While nothing can take away the profound pain of [name’s] passing, we can find comfort in remembering the joy they brought us.”
  • “Though [name] may be gone their spirit will forever touch all of us who knew and loved them.”
  • “Let the memories we share today be a celebration of [name’s] incredible life.”

Opening on an uplifting note eases you and the audience into the commemoration.

Celebration of Life Speech Examples

Here are examples from different perspectives:

Speech From a Family Member:

“My father was many things: a dedicated husband, a doting grandfather and a loyal friend to so many. But to me he was the man who taught me how to ride a bike, who walked me down the aisle at my wedding and who could always make me laugh, no matter what. I’ll miss our weekly phone calls and his how much enthusiasm he had for life. He lived each moment to the fullest. My heart may be broken but I find peace knowing he left this world surrounded by family who loved him.”

Speech From a Friend:

“Sarah had a spirit like no other. Her passion for art was rivaled only by her passion for her friends. I’ll never forget the four of us piling into her car every weekend for spontaneous road trips, singing at the top of our lungs. She was the glue that held our group together; the friend who knew just what to say when you needed advice or a shoulder to lean on. Her free spirit inspired and encouraged all of us to live life now and without fear. I know she’ll live on in our memories and in the art she left behind.”

Speech from a Colleague:

“Jim was the kind of coworker everyone could count on for a laugh during stressful times. Or an ear to listen at the end of a long day. His attitude had a big impact on everyone he worked with and drove our whole office culture. He simply loved coming to work and having fun together. I think we all tried to match his positivity and outlook on work and life. He pushed us to be our best while reminding us not to take it all too seriously along the way. We’ll miss Jim’s humor, compassion and his friendship enormously.”

What to Say to the Family at a Celebration of Life

If you want to speak directly to the family at a celebration of life then offering heartfelt condolences is the safest and best way to approach it.

The family will be grieving deeply so offer your sympathy and support. Keep whatever you say simple and try to avoid cliches.

Some ideas:

  • Thinking of you all during this difficult time and hoping you can find comfort in memories of [name].
  • Please accept my deepest condolences. Let me know if you need anything at all.
  • My heart goes out to you and your family. Cherish the happy memories together.

If you were close to the deceased then you could also share a meaningful memory about them with the family.

What to Say at a Celebration of Life Ceremony as an Attendee

As an attendee you should aim to listen and reflect as well as offering comfort to others. Chat with loved ones and share uplifting memories you have of the deceased. Offer condolences and emotional support to those grieving.

When speaking with others you can say:

  • It’s clear how much [name] meant to so many. I’m glad we can get the opportunity to honor their memory together.
  • Your mother was such a kind and warm woman. The world won’t be the same without her.
  • I’m here if you need a friendly ear during this difficult time.

Simply being present shows you care so don’t worry too much about making sure you at the right thing.

what to say at a celebration of life

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