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With the average funeral cost in San Francisco rising, choosing alternatives to the traditional funeral makes sense for many San Francisco residents. Celebration of life ceremonies are a popular choice for families that have decided to forgo the funeral home for a more personal memorial. 
The main difference between traditional funeral and celebration of life is tone. A celebration of life is often more casual and is designed to bring people together to remember an individual’s life. This often opens up room for creative planning and exploring nontraditional memorial locations that can better honor your loved one on a personal level. 
San Francisco offers a range of unique opportunities for this type of nontraditional memorial. Here are 6 celebration of life ideas unique to San Francisco.
1. Ocean Beach 
The beach is always a strong choice for a celebration of life. Ocean Beach in particular provides a uniquely beautiful and peaceful place for a ceremony. With large stretches of uninterrupted sand, remarkable sunsets, and unique features like dunes and hiking trails, Ocean Beach makes for a great place to host a small intimate gathering in San Francisco. This is good for a peaceful, somber event to gather close loved ones and say goodbye while observing the water and hearing the waves crash. You can get a bonfire permit for one of the famous Ocean Beach fire pits. Start the ceremony before dusk, watch the sunset, and then share stories of your loved one around the fire.   

2. Lindley Meadow
Golden Gate Park’s Lindley Meadow presents a fantastic open space for an outdoor memorial and picnic. This is a far less peaceful choice versus Ocean beach, as it can get quite crowded, but it can provide a much more interactive and upbeat celebration of life. You can reserve a table at Lindley Meadow here, or just look for an open space on the grass and lay down a blanket. For any park event, adding a special ceremonial element can be useful. One popular choice is a memory box. Each guest can bring an object that reminds them of the life you’re celebrating. You could also bring a memory book, where guests could write personal messages to the person directly.  
3. Celebration of Life Dinner 
An intimate dinner celebration with close friends and family can serve as an excellent celebration of life choice. Dining out (when we can go out again) is such an essential part of San Francisco life and culture, it makes for a meaningful memorial event. You could pick a restaurant that was special to your loved one, or find a San Francisco restaurant that offers special celebration of life packages to take some hassle out of planning. Bistro Boudin is a San Francisco staple that runs celebration of life events right on the bay. 
4. Bay Cruise
If you want to get even closer to the San Francisco Bay, and want to hold a large celebration of life event, a bay cruise could be your best option. Hornblower offers an all inclusive cruise around the bay for celebration of life ceremonies. The company provides food, entertainment, and even an event planner. Plus, the San Francisco skyline and Golden Gate Bridge views will ensure a meaningful ceremony. This certainly isn’t the choice for a small, intimate celebration of life, but it could be a remarkable experience to conduct a grand sendoff. 
5. Charitable Donation
A charitable donation can add an additional layer of positivity to a celebration of life. Alemany Farm, Bread Project, and 826 Valencia are just a few examples of community organizations that accept donations and provide real positive impact to local San Francisco communities. You can make a small ceremony out of the donation process, or simply donate in your loved one’s name on your own time. Many charities will send an item back to commemorate the occasion (plaque, card, etc.), so be sure to ask when making the donation.
6. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps
From sea to stars in over one hundred steps. Plan a walk or trip to the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, with city views, a beautiful mural, and the type of activity and movement that’s good for the soul. One of the most cherished pieces of San Francisco living is enjoying the city with a walk, and a celebration of life climbing the 16th avenue steps perfectly encompasses this idea. This can be a cathartic and beautiful experience for a nontraditional celebration of life. Gather a group of friends and loved ones to walk up the stars together and say a few words of remembrance from the top. 
Scattering Ashes and Planning
One aspect of many of these location-specific celebrations of life is the scattering of ashes. You can choose to incorporate scattering ashes into these ceremonies, but it’s not a requirement. There are several important legal and health concerns when scattering ashes in San Francisco, so make sure to research before you conduct this activity in the celebration of life.  
Regardless of the activity you choose for a celebration of life in San Francisco, pick something that would have mattered to your loved one. No celebration of life idea is wrong, it’s the act of planning something unique and personal matters the most. Once you pick an idea, you can learn more about planning the ceremony details here.
Photo by Patrik Göthe on Unsplash

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