5 Amazing Funeral Personalization Ideas From Around The World
Article By Rochelle Rietow, funeralOne
With all the amazing, interesting and sometimes even strange funeral traditions around the world, it’s safe to say these cultures can inspire us when it comes to funeral personalization.
And as a funeral home employee, we know you’re always looking for different and unique ways to help your families celebrate life. So why not broaden your horizons and learn about the ways other cultures celebrate their loved ones?
These five funeral traditions around the world got us brainstorming some new funeral personalization ideas, so check them out and get inspired below!
1. Indonesia: Sharing the beautiful story of life
Tana Toraja funeral traditions involve an extremely close relationship with the dead. The dead are usually kept in the home with the family and cared for as a “sick person” until their funeral ceremony.
In Tana Toraja, Indonesia, the most important moments of social and cultural interaction aren’t weddings or birthdays, but funerals. The ritual enactment for the end of life has made death one of the most visual and remarkable aspects of Toraja’s landscape. Commemorating someone who has died isn’t so much a private sadness, but more of a publicly shared transition. It’s just as much about the identity of the living as it is about the death. The actual ceremony is a way for the loved one’s family to ritually recount their life’s narrative, weaving their story into the history of their community.
Personalization idea: Instead of having a cookie-cutter sermon, ask family members to come together and create a truly meaningful narrative of that person’s life. Weave it into other parts of the funeral (ie. tribute video) to make the loved one’s funeral as unique as them.
2. The Balinese cremation ceremony: A celebration of a lifetime
“Strange as it seems, it is in their cremation ceremonies that the Balinese have their greatest fun,” wrote Miguel Covarrubias in his published work, “Island of Bali” in 1937. “A cremation is an occasion for gaiety and not for mourning, since it represents the accomplishment of their most sacred duty” he continued. The cremation isn’t just a simple ceremony in Balinese culture – it’s an celebratory one that involves the whole community, lots of singing , dancing, offerings, flowers, and elaborate floats – almost like a parade.
The quality of the cremation ceremony is so important that the community often waits to hold them until they have gathered the necessary funds to hold the ceremony of a lifetime. Many members of the community wait until someone of power or royal lineage has passed away so that their loved one can be a part of the amazing celebration (you might remember this massive cremation ceremony last year that involved more than 60 deceased people).
Personalization idea: Instead of simply having a direct cremation, encourage the family to taking a larger part in the cremation. If they feel comfortable, they could even invite members of the community to take a part in it, too. Many funeral homes have already caught on to this idea by building a Witness Room in their funeral home, allowing families to view and take part in the loved one’s funeral. Want to learn more? Check out Anderson McQueen’s Witness Room here.
3. Ghana: A celebration that highlights life passions
What if people spent the same amount of money on funerals as weddings? In Ghana, many believe this is the way it should be. A funeral isn’t just a time to mourn, it’s a time to celebrate in Ghana. Dancing, music, food, singing and celebrating is a standard rather than an exception. And in one report on CNN, a funeral planner estimated that the average funeral should cost between $15,000-$20,000 ” (the same funeral planner who was in charge of 30 funeral parties on this one day alone). Funerals are a big deal in Ghana, and it shows. First, there are the funeral billboards. These giant, colorful billboards are created to spread the word about the funeral party for the loved one, and are often scattered in multiple places throughout the city for everyone to see.
Then there’s the caskets. In Ghana, caskets are often a statement of the loved one’s life. Instead of the average oak casket, you’ll find caskets shaped like shoes, Coca Cola bottles and even golf clubs – the design is meant to show off the loved one’s life passions.
Personalization idea: Sure, customized caskets and funeral stationery are a popular way to show off the loved one’s passions. But what if you could take it a step further and find unique, special ways to celebrate the loved one and show off their passions? Maybe it could be a jogging procession or even a night out of bowling instead of the normal, expected funeral ceremony. Just like Ghana does, think outside the box! (see what we did there?)
4. Taiwan: A funeral ceremony that draws in the crowds
In Taiwan, traditional funeral rituals usually involve an open casket funeral, a ceremony that’s nearly 50 days long, and a crowd of mourners (often paid), pigs, performers and even graveside strippers. Think we’re joking? Think again. You see, in Taiwan, the amount of mourners who show up to your funeral determines the quality of your afterlife. That’s where the performers, paid mourners and striptease dancers come in. Strippers and performers will bring in a big crowd, and the paid mourners will ensure no one shows up to your funeral. If one thing’s for sure, we know funerals in Taiwan are quite the opposite of boring.
Personalization idea: Don’t worry, we’re not going to encourage you to bring in any graveside strippers. However, what if you could incorporate some practices into your funeral arrangement process to ensure people attend the funeral? Something that’s meaningful to the loved one, of course. A funeral is one of life’s biggest events and it should be treated that way, complete with guests. So next time a family suggests skipping the funeral ceremony all together, find a creative way to encourage them to change their mind. Get creative.
5. Ireland: A life well celebrated with whiskey
If you’ve ever seen the movie PS. I love you, you may be familiar with the way the Irish traditionally celebrate their deceased loved ones – with lots of drinking, of course. The typical Irish wakeusually involves less tears than we’re used to, and a lot more alcohol and celebrating. The Irish believe that this type of celebration originated with the Celts. The Celts thought that when a person died, they were moving on to a better time in the afterlife and that this was a cause to celebrate. Needless to say, if you’ve ever been to an Irish funeral, you know to expect a sometimes solemn, but nevertheless celebratory evening of drinking and sharing memories.
Personalization idea: Who said that funerals have to be a serious, solemn event filled with tears?Just like weddings, funerals should be a time of celebration, drinking, laughing, and sharing stories and memories. Why not offer options at your funeral home such as a champagne toast to commemorate the loved one’s life? It may not be for everyone, but you’d be surprised by how many people would welcome that idea with open arms.
How to use these funeral personalization ideas
You don’t have to jump in and use all of these personalization ideas at once, but why not try one with a family that seems like they would benefit from it? Modify them to fit your community, their religions, and the loved one’s life. Make them your own in any way that you can. Whatever you do, keep believing in the power of funeral personalization. It’s what the families of today want, and it’s time that we start offering it.
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