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Weddings and Funerals: Remembering while Celebrating

by Chaplain Julia Rajtar, MAPS, BCC

 

At the wedding ceremony, there was a special prayer/mention of those who died and how they had inspired the bride and groom for their future. During the reception at another wedding, at each place setting on one table was a separate photo of each of the deceased family members of both the bride and groom. At the next wedding, the couple decided to honor the deceased by setting photos of the deceased together on a main table as guests walked into the reception, honoring the past, while at the same time, they invited guests to write messages to them for their future.

 

Many recognize and acknowledge that grief lasts throughout our lives and comes and goes like ocean waves. Special events and occasions, such as weddings, are opportunities to reminisce and bring back the memory of our absent family or friends. Memories can aid in the grieving process while providing comfort and a connection to the person(s) who died. Memories connect us to our past and shape our identities. By remembering and honoring a person who has died, individuals can feel a sense of closeness and connection, even in their absence.

 

In his book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom writes a poignant piece about the importance of memory and remembering. Though not specifically written about a wedding, memory is a way to both grieve and honor the life of those who are not with the couple on this special day and can bring healing and strength. Mitch writes:

 

Lost love is still love. It takes a different form, that’s all.

You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle

their hair or move them around the dance floor.

Memory, then, becomes your partner.

You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it.

Life has to end. Love doesn’t.

 

Weddings and funerals can go hand in hand as we celebrate the joy of the new union of the couple and honor our family and friends who have died and influenced us on this special day. Carefully consider the myriad of resources, honoring yourselves and those who are no longer physically present, while acknowledging the intangible relationship we have with the deceased, as couples take their first steps together as one.

 

Websites/Resources to Help with Planning a Wedding while Honoring Deceased

  • The Knot
  • Pinterest
  • Consider resources from your own cultural or spiritual tradition

 

Sources

Albom, Mitch. The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Hachette Books, New York, 2003.

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