Saturday, 21 November 2015

celebration of life - memorial table

celebrating the life of a loved one who passed away is a wonderful way to pay tribute to an exciting, fullfilling and happy life.

the german tradition of inviting everyone, who joined the family at the funeral for a cup of coffee and piece of cake...or two or called "trösterkaffee" which pretty much means something like comforter or consoler coffee.

it is meant to share memories and stories and to meet aquantainces of various periods of the life of the departed one and to get the chance to have a closer look at those parts of his life, which might be unknown to one or the other.

another aspect of the "trösterkaffee" is to take care of the remaining family members, to offer them support and to lead them back to the community and its social life.

...for some people it is a bit scaring to combine mourning and celebrating... and i have to admit i was one of them.

to get over this fear...which i had to, as there was no way of backing off...i thought i have to turn this event into something like a non-verbal, interactive obituary, which would comfort my entire family and all other guests.

planning, crafting, flipping through loads of pictures, speeches and other memories and to create a beautiful memorial table was not only a great way for myself to bit farewell to my also turned out to be well received by our guests.

displaying some original childhood photo album, orations, guestbooks, a "where did i travel to" map and a few items, which reflects a few of his most popular interest and hobbies, turned this table into a sort of a museum.

i know it is much easier to do all this, if you have lost a loved one who reached a certain age, who could look back to a fantastic life and who was lucky enough to fall asleep peacefully and who was redeemed from his sufferings...but maybe it could help in any other cases.

keeping in mind that there will never be much time to plan such an event and if you might not be at home, where you stock all your craft either need to be creative and quick or you just have to fall back to some of your previous might have noticed already...i did the latter.

where do i start... maybe with the guestbook, i forgot to display it on the table, when i rearranged the memorial at my parents winter garden...of course there was no time for taking any pictures at the day of the funeral.

a guestbook made from laminate samples and a door knob is made very quick and easy and can be lettered with a title.

there are a lot of templates for the inserts of the guestbook around the net, but i must admit as i was running out if time...i forgot to note where i got this from...sorry for that.

it was the second time for me to create one of those guestbooks and i experienced both times, that just displaying the sheets with a few pens and a "please sign our guestbook" won't be enough effort.

i actually had to go from table to table to convince and beg for a few words...but it was always worth the is such a beautiful memory for a remarkable day.

asking your guests a few questions does not frighten your guests as much as handing out a blank piece of paper...for those who would like to express their consolation, the backside of the sheet left enough space for some more personal words.

to display the guestbook of the golden wedding of my parents as well the photo album, with a lot of memories of the mutual life of my parents seemed to be one of the highlights of the memorial table.

childhood photo albums of my dad, which were loveley created by my grandparents were another eyecatcher and attracted a lot of interest.

they attracted the interest of those family members and friends, who acompanied my dad through his earlier years as well as those, who met him much later without knowing much about his childhood.

the first photo albums, which were created by dad himself as a young adult, were made in the same care and attention to details, that it was another pleasure to browse through his photos and other preserved memories.

some very entertaining orations and speeches from my uncle and the oldest friend of my dad. they were written and held on my parents golden wedding anniversary and milestone birthday celebrations.

i decided to print (or actually paint) the most significant and postive words of the touching quote of grief, which we used on our obituary notice, on a canvas, which was covered with a stone look wallpaper.

the original quote by dietrich bonhoeffer means that:

the more beautiful and full the remembrances,
the more difficult the separation.
but gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy.
one bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn
but as a precious gift deep within,
a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.

another stone wallpaper covered canvas, displayed a world map, marked with the places, my dad travelled to.

one more canvas, displayed a few photos, reflecting various stages of my dads life....sort of a quick reference of his life.

for those, who did not dare to flip through the photo albums.

faux stone look spray-painted picture frame and candle holder to match the stone urne, we chose.
as the urne we chose was made in a stone look, i decided to spray paint the picture frame and the candle holder in the same way, so they would perfectly match to each other.

- the little bits and pieces, which showed some of the interests of my dad, i found in dollar stores and toy shops and to make them less tacky and more classy, i spray-painted them in an antique golden colour...beautiful and stylish.

- original pieces and memories, which are more valuable were of course left exactly the way the are.

our celebration of my dad's life was a very emotional, but really heartwarming event and it was overwhelming to see so many of his aquaintances, browsing through his photos, reading the speeches and sharing memories with us...i am sure my dad would have loved to be there...and it was worth it to celebrate his life instead of mourning....