In Celebration Of

Our walks often include the Bethine Church River Trail on the Boise River Greenbelt. Strategically placed along the way are rough-hewn log benches for contemplation. Next to each bench is a flush-with-the-ground “In Memory Of…” marker.

Recently we walked a little further and came upon a raised marker. It said, “In Celebration Of …”

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On the return walk home, Len and I discussed the difference. We agreed that while they’re both wonderful, to us the “In Memory Of…” marker has a past-tense feel to it; while the “In Celebration Of” marker feels present-tenseongoing.

We concluded that although we’ve elected to be cremated with our ashes placed in earth-friendly containers (biodegradable urns designed to convert into a tree), we’d each like a celebratory marker at the base of our individual trees.

Do you want to be remembered, or celebrated?

© Laurie Buchanan

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51 thoughts on “In Celebration Of

  1. “Celebrate Celebrate, Dance to the Music… ” the song suggest! How important is it to us once we are no longer present in this realm that we be remember and or celebrated?

  2. What an interesting pondering, Laurie. I used to think I wanted to be remembered or celebrated, but don’t feel that any more. Would like to jointly celebrate in THIS moment with whoever and whatever appears. Right now am celebrating with you and your beautiful blog and Jeff’s comment up above. Jeff and I Skyped the other day. That was fun!

  3. How about remembered AND celebrated?

    In a TV show we were watching last night, a woman said to her husband that their dead daughter was still with them because of their love and memories.

  4. My immediate reaction is “I want to be remembered and celebrated while I’m here!” – I don’t feel like I have or want any control over what other people think about, especially if I’m not present. Not that I have much of that now, but a living interaction has so much juicy potential. There are so many people who have moved through my life and they were focal points, spots of light, pivotal relationships, but that was their time and I rarely dwell on them now. Others had meanings that I still turn over and over again, and some of those just lasted a moment. Each of us can end up being either kind of connection to someone else, and both have value. How other people remember me is one of those things I don’t have to be too concerned about, so I’m not.

  5. I think being remembered includes celebration. When I attend memorial services, the moderator usually begins by intoning these words: “We are here today to celebrate the life of . . . ” which puts a positive spin on a mournful time, especially for close family members.

    Also, I notice the second marker includes the word “magical,” suggesting the marvelous, perhaps charismatic nature of the departed. Very thoughtful points to ponder, Laurie!

  6. Another great post and follow-up to Standing Alone. I agree with Jeff, Kathy and Jeannie.
    As we pass through each other’s lives, while still here on this earth, how many do we remember or who remember us for very long! Remember the old saying “out of sight out of mind!”
    Of course, we all want to be remembered. But how many times are the words spoken “We will, or we must, or let’s keep in touch!” yet we don’t.

    There used to be a time where people maintained and nurtured their relationships, but these days everyone spends most of their time with busy stuff and won’t make the effort to nurture the relationships with the people in their lives. Yes, sometimes we try to, but the other person gradually drifts away into their own “busy” lives; and that is that!! 😦
    And, in most cases it is not because their was a rift of any kind in the relationship, it is just they way society has become.

    Hey, most of the time I feel invisible in this life and so I don’t expect anyone to remember me when I am gone! That used to bother me, but most of the time it doesn’t anymore.

    I am grateful for all my blessings and especially the people who do come into my life, whether they are for a moment or for a long time.

  7. Celebrated and remembered, hopefully with joy and fondness. Don’t cry for me, Argentina – or family and friends – the truth is I never left you. . .

  8. I am so fascinated with the idea of biodegradable urns designed to convert into trees! If it was legal here I would prefer a natural burial in the woods, because cremation adds to pollution, although not nearly as much as embalming does. But since we’ve decided on cremation I like your idea, including the celebratory marker at the base of your individual trees. Mainly because I find a sense of peace and connection when I visit the graves of my ancestors, and I would like to give that gift to my descendants.

    When Tim’s brother died a little over a year ago, he requested that his ashes be scattered in a place in the woods that was meaningful to him, which we did. But for us, we felt the urge to plant a tree in his memory in our garden, and so we did that, too.

  9. I am not sure it matters to me Laurie. Sometimes people need to remember in order to celebrate. Maybe that is why sometimes there are so many tears and laughter together at funerals and celebrations of life. My only request is that – if possible, my body is cremated. The rest is for the comfort of the living. I have hopes though. I hope my death reminds them to live each day fully and with gratitude.

  10. You’ve created such a wonderful venue in which to share, Laurie. I was caught by your post and then by the thoughtful comments that it generated.
    My immediate response to your question was that I wanted to be buried in a biodegradable urn and that I wanted to be celebrated. And, as an author, I want my writing to continue to inspire and entertain long after I’m gone.
    However, after reading the comments, I’m beginning to see, to understand and to release. My time is now. After that, what will be, will be.

  11. Wow, deep tough question. Few of us want to be forgotten when we leave this plane of existence, that’s for sure. I want those who remember me to think of, and feel, joy, peace, and love. That’s what I strive for in my life. Joy. Peace. Love. If my left-over energy can add these three things to those who remember me, I will be remembered well.

  12. When my father died we had a Celebration of Life gathering and Mass my mother put together. It was a very non-traditional Catholic ceremony but to me it felt as good as it could have with such a positive feeling and energy. We celebrated all he stood for and the legacy he left behind in each of us.

    We buried his ashes on our farm, right where he wanted to be and feel his presence on all 34 acres in every tree, flower, and bit of earth! I think a Celebration of a persons life and legacy is exactly what I want and to be remembered in every aspect of nature where my ashes will be 🙂 Great post Laurie!!

  13. Laurie, I’ve enjoyed the points of view shared here and see the potential in all of them to bring some comfort to those left behind. I’ve always joked about having my ashes sent down the Chattahoochee River that runs from N. Georgia down to the Gulf Of Mexico in Appalatchicola, Florida. Lately though I’ve wondered if my cremains won’t be filtered out by the gigantic water purification system Atlanta uses to clean it’s drinking water? I might never reach the Gulf at all. So lately I have looked into the idea of my ashes being used in the planting of a small tree, a dogwood, a crabapple or maybe a redbud, something that will bloom in the Spring and bring a smile to those who see it. As for a marker, I am undecided, in a hundred years it will matter to no one, least of all me. Should one be necessary for my children to remember me, then I wasn’t the mother I thought I was and should let it go. I’ve told the man who’ll conduct my Celebration of Life service that I want it light-hearted and funny, something I would enjoy. Tears are optional, laughter is required.

  14. Mmmmmm I’ve been pondering . I love to ponder on your blog Laurie . Celebration to me sounds positive . Where as… in memory of …sounds negative ‘TO CELEBRATE TO LIFE OF CHERRY HARRIS ‘ emmmm ‘ IN MEMORY OF CHERRY HARRIS ‘ emmmm . Oh dear I’m far too young for ALL this …as I wipe the sweat off my furrowed brow ( do you like the theatre of it ) My husband ( cough cough ) always said I’d make a blummin good actress ( I think he was joking ) Yes it has to be ‘To Celebrate ‘ I’m a positive kinda girl ha ha .
    Cherryx

  15. I like the celebration words better and, like you, want my ashes to blend with the ground. I often thought that since my maiden name is Rosales (Rosetrees), I would like a rose bush to be planted and my ashes scattered round it. I bought a rosebush for each of the 2 brothers I’ve lost. They are both in my back garden, so everytime I prune them or water them I feel I’m communicating with them.

  16. I love the idea of these sorts of questions arising from a simple walk in the woods with your hubs. I get that with mine as well, although today ours bordered on more pendantic stuff like whether the red buds we saw were redbuds or dogwoods and how to train the dog to stay off the snowshoes. I also love the idea of the biodegradable urns. We’ve got “green burial” (may be off on the term) up here in Vermont. Only certain cemetaries can handle them, but it’s essentially a no chemicals and bottomless casket burial. Dust to dust, so to speak. My mom tells me she’s opted for one.

    I’ve enjoyed reading through all the comments. But my initial reaction still holds: “in memory,” to me, seems simply more accepting of the finality of death. Think of me, keep me in memory, and move on. Not negative or positive. Just is. And, now that I say all that, I wouldn’t mind a little celebration of my life too, though I’d prefer we do that ahead of time. Maybe this summer. Never too soon to celebrate a life. Hmmm. We may be on something here. Let’s celebrate our lives this summer. June seems good. June 14 was “Children’s Day” when I was in school. How ’bout that day? The form will evolve.

  17. No doubt few would say they wouldn’t want to be remembered and/or celebrated, and I’m certainly no exception. Above all I’ve want to be remembered as a caring husband and father, which after all are the major ingredients to a life well-lived and inner satisfaction. I will not be one for cremation myself, but your own mode of preference is so beautifully envisioned. But the earth needs you my friend, for at least another 50 years!!! 🙂

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