Celebrating Life With Karla Combres

Written by

Amy Liebaert

Celebrating Life: A Discussion With Karla Combres

Death can be an uncomfortable, yet inevitable topic that brings forth many complicated emotions. As a Life Cycle Celebrant, Karla Combres helps families create personalized ceremonies for life's milestone moments, including funerals. She believes that through open discussion about loss, we can honor the life that was lived and make the grieving process a little easier. In this blog post, we'll discuss the importance of honest end-of-life conversations, the process for arranging a one-of-a-kind ceremony, and how to keep the memory of a loved one alive.

Getting to Know Karla

After years of working in foreign contexts and connecting with people of various backgrounds, Karla became attuned to listening closely— not with just her ears, but with her heart. Through her empathetic nature and appreciation for diverse perspectives, Karla adapted her strength of understanding to help others articulate what is most meaningful to them in their lives. Using a variety of mediums such as ceremonies, death cafes, and workshops, Karla creates an opportunity for life and death to be united.

“Life and death are inextricably linked and life is much richer and more meaningful when we can hold space for both."

Embracing the Uneasy

When someone we love dies, it's tempting to avoid the topic and suppress our feelings, which in turn can lead to further disconnection and pain. Making room to celebrate the life of the loved one who's passed is important, but we must also ensure that grief is not bypassed and space is held to experience the loss that has occurred. 

By opening up the discussion around death, we can create a space to grieve openly and authentically. Karla believes that making room for real, honest, and authentic conversations is essential in our day-to-day lives. Through willingness to sit with discomfort and confronting the fear of difficult conversations, we can cultivate deeper connections with ourselves and those around us.

Starting With The Story

Karla’s  process to create an impactful ceremony always begins with the story of the individual. By taking the time to understand the person and what has shaped them rather than immediately detailing the structure, Karla ensures that the ceremony is a unique reflection of the individual. Sitting down with family and friends in the home of the person who has passed, surrounded by pictures and mementos, is an excellent way to bring memories and stories to life.

Dealing with the range of emotions that people feel during such a challenging time can be difficult; however, Karla's solution is inclusion and authenticity. She holds space for the full range of emotions, not just grief. As an unbiased presence, she takes all of the information and experiences shared by family and friends, weaving them together into a cohesive narrative that truly captures the essence of the individual.

“There’s nothing healing about being inauthentic.”

The initial storytelling phase is crucial, as it sets the foundation for a collaborative process where ideas and structures start to emerge. Laughter and tears are both welcomed in this space. Karla has found that families have often expressed how healing the process of creating a celebration has been for them, not just the ceremony itself. With Karla's guidance, each end-of-life ceremony becomes a beautiful homage to the individual, leaving a lasting impact on those who attend.

Maintaining a Legacy

After someone dies, it's natural to want to hold onto their memory. Karla believes that one way to do that is by creating traditions or designating a unique symbol that honors the person's life. It could be something as simple as setting out a plate for them during the holidays, lighting a candle, or feeling a moment of connection when a butterfly passes. These small but meaningful rituals can bring comfort and connection to those grieving. Karla also suggests that families continuously share stories and sentimental reflections to keep the memory of their loved one alive for years to come.

“Going forward, create spaces to sink into your grief, to feel your joy, to speak their name, and remember how you were touched by them.”


Karla embraces the idea that life and death are two sides of the same coin, and recognizes that a meaningful approach to living includes room for grief, gratitude, joy, and pain. At Cadence, we are proud to showcase impactful individuals who share our mission of changing the way the world deals with death. By working directly with deathcare professionals who provide essential services, we can ensure that the families using our pre-planning and aftercare software are continuously supported. 

If you were moved by Karla’s approach to creating meaningful and personalized end-of-life ceremonies, she would love to connect with you. She offers a range of services including guidance, writing and officiating the entire process, and one-on-one consultations. Additionally, Karla also hosts workshops to pre-plan memorials, reminding us to live our lives in a way that is in alignment with those things that truly matter to us. Get in touch with Karla today to create a celebration that truly honors your loved one's life and legacy.

Interview with Life Cycle Celebrant, Karla Combres.