Funerals are as individual as you are. Each of us have a story to tell.
As such a funeral should be carefully crafted to reflect the person who has died.
I am well known for telling my friends and family what I want for my funeral – I’ve even told them what I want for my tomb stone.
“I told you I was sick”.
As a mother and step mother to six incredible kids, mother is the last on the list when she is sick. I’ve often told them they would step over me in the kitchen if I passed out, the main concern being: “What is for dinner”.
I’ve planned it all, I want a big red curtain on the stage like in the theatre. I’ve even picked out my songs. “Days like this” by Van Morrison,
“When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this”.
And Harrry Connick Jnr version of “Good By Joe”: “Goodbye Joe me gotta go me oh my oh”.
OOHHHH and I want lots and lots of flowers. LOTS
Why am I telling you this?
Well I’m really concerned that as a Western culture we don’t embrace death. In fact we do everything we can to avoid it. If we don’t discuss these things, chat about them with each other then how will we ever know?
Do you want to be buried or cremated?
If you want to be cremated where do you want your ashes scattered?
I have a friend who since her mother has died has taken on the task to travel to as many countries as she can. In each place she scatters a bit of her mother. Her mother never got to travel. She figures better late than never.
My husband insisted as he was dying of cancer that he wanted to be cremated. In fact for as long as we had been married he had wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered over the Murray River. Then weeks before he died he insisted that he wanted to be buried? He changed his mind. So we buried him.
My mother is 86, she has led a very creative and colourful life. Her great grand children call her ‘super gran’. When she dies she wants me to assemble the grandchildren and great grandchildren and have them paint her coffin???
She has joked about handing out ‘tasers’ to everyone at the funeral and the last person standing is the one who inherits her house. lol..
We have joked about putting pop corn in the casket and as it is filed into the crematorium – going out with a bang… or pop pop pop.
Is this making you uncomfortable? It shouldn’t.
These are all examples of how our death should reflect how we have lived.
We all respond differently when death comes into our lives and we will inevitably have different needs in terms of the ways in which we honour the deceased and our grief.
Ritual and ceremony at the time of death can be rich with meaning, healing and inspiration.
Whether the ceremony is a funeral or farewell service, a celebration of life, a memorial or a wake, it is a powerful and often painful rite of passage that signifies a farewell, a time of letting go and the beginning of a new relationship with the person who has gone.
The ceremony is about creating a safe space where the individuals life can be honoured and affirmed. It is important to acknowledge the person’s beliefs, and values, their stories and personality, the essence that made the unique, giving space for the expressions of all that was felt for the person who has died.
It is also an important part of your grieving process. A time when we hold a space for grieving.
“You need to allow yourself time to grieve. You think you won’t be able to go on, but you do cope. People say time heals, and it does … I am still standing, but it is still difficult for me at times. But you never lose the love that you shared together.” (Merna Curnow, 2009)
It’s an interesting conversation to have. Let’s face it. Every one of us is going to die. Its just a matter of when. We will all one day be a memory, lets do the best we can to leave a good one.
Featured Art by: Liezel Van Der Linde