We want people to look at their funeral as a celebration, or event. That may sound odd at first, but how many of you have been to a visitation lately where there were:
- many photos around
- a funeral video running on monitors
- funeral music playing
- funeral mementos present
This is a celebration of the deceased’s life, not their death.
My mother died in 1975. We had two evenings of calling, no photos, no music, and she was only 42. It was brutal. People don’t know what to say in many cases when they greet you to extend condolences. I think back on that and wish there had been the opportunity to place photos, to have a funeral DVD, (not invented yet!) etc., that could have celebrated the life she had instead of just mourning her.
Two parents, two different experiences.
When my dad died in 2005 it was very different. We had photos and other memorabilia from his life there. My dad had raced stock cars when he met my mom. I had photos of him standing next to or sitting in some of his race cars. I even had the helmet he was wearing, when three weeks before my parents were to be married, he got upside down on the track and three cars hit him. It cracked his helmet but he came out okay, and he later walked down the aisle to marry my mother. I had that helmet at the visitation.
These items made it easy for folks to talk to me about my dad. Many never knew he raced. Well, my mother told him the night of that accident he had to decide between her, or racing. I’m here to write about it so you know his decision! People didn’t know that story.
It gave people a comfortable way to talk to me about my dad. It gave me an avenue to tell stories about him, which I enjoyed. We celebrated him. We didn’t dwell on his death, we focused on his life.
- Don’t underestimate the power of celebration to heal your loved ones when you die.
- Take stock of your wishes and ask yourself if what you want is what your family would want. The ceremony is for their benefit too.
When planning your funeral think about your hobbies, or the things you love to do, or special events of your life. You might be amazed how people would enjoy knowing about that part of your life.
Author - Don Masten is manager of Our Lady of Peace Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a graduate of Marian University. Don is licensed to sell preneed funerals and represents Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers.