Upbeat Funerals: Creating Happy Goodbyes
The recent climate of positivity in death care culture is a good thing on multiple levels: It helps to spread awareness, lessen stigma, and increase memorialization options.
One byproduct of the more accepting climate around death care is the emergence of new ways to remember the deceased that are untraditional, unique, even fun. While an Irish wake won’t be appropriate in every situation, in 2023, there are many options for colorful, non-miserable events.
And for families that may never have considered adding a celebratory element to their arrangements, the suggestion from your funeral home could make a tremendous difference to the nature of their whole mourning experience.
So what might you suggest?
There’s really no limit to the ways that a family can work the deceased’s personality into things. Whether that means a cocktail hour or toast during a traditional viewing, a custom casket decorated to commemorate a favorite celebrity, hobby, or sports team, adding flavor from the life of the deceased recreates a feeling of their unique presence.
Celebration of life services and events have taken place in nontraditional locations such as at stadium (baseball, football) games, where attendees wear jerseys with the deceased’s name – even date of death — on them; and pubs, with a display table with the deceased’s picture and favorite drink next to the deceased himself in an urn on a chair. At one gathering for an artist, a significant display of her work was arranged like a gallery in a show.
Any scenario that includes personal elements and adds a celebratory air helps complete the perspective of loss to one that not only mourns but also includes gratitude for the presence of a loved one in our lives.
Other non-traditional touches
Many funeral homes have made a custom of accommodating personalized requests from families for some time, so working things in comes with the territory already. Any type of music can be a featured at any point during a viewing, service, or even witnessed (or unwitnessed) cremation. Creating a festive atmosphere of any level of formality is perhaps most easily achieved with music, from the classical (“Flight of the Bumblebee”) to classic rock (“Spirit in the Sky”), and everything in between.
If a meal is served, favorite foods or special dishes of the deceased may be featured, like a pizza buffet-style from a favorite place, or catering by a favorite restaurant. Recreate Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other favored holiday meals, or include birthday cake for everyone. Decorate the site with Halloween or other holiday theme.
Families may encourage attendees to wear a specific type of clothing like the deceased’s favorite color, Hawaiian shirts, or anything flouting the convention of dark wardrobe.
Sky’s the Limit
Really, limitations are only the imagination (and local coding laws). And there’s significant benefit here in venturing into lighter waters, by relieving somewhat the emotional heft of final matters for all involved.
When social perspective approaches matters of mortality with greater acceptance and ease, its overall aspect adds somewhat less stress… arguably a welcome improvement at any increment, however humble.