A change in the funeral culture – celebrate the life

A very interesting article was posted by the BBC a few weeks ago that showed another change in the funeral culture. The topic: celebrate the life of the deceased rather than mourn it.

A very good example on how the funeral culture is changing is a study of 30,000 funerals conducted by the Co-operative Funeralcare . The study showed that the Number One Funeral Song in the UK is “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” – by Monty Python’s Eric Idle. Also TV Theme songs are very frequently used. And Funeral Directors are happy to accommodate pretty much any individual music request.

The dress code is not as strict anymore due to the possibility of a “personalized Funeral”. For some funerals it is appropriate for men to wear a suit and tie, for the women to wear a black dress/skirt and covered shoulders. If the deceased or his family planned a personalized funeral though, it means that funeral visitors i.e. wear memorial T-Shirts or the deceased person’s favorite color. It wouldn’t be surprising if there are people that wish for funeral attendees to just not dress up at all and come in whatever clothing they feel comfortable in.

Thinking of the funeral of Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, James Brown – their funerals were broadcasted worldwide by the media and were talked about for a long time. This has evolved on a smaller scale for people whose families have scattered all over the world. The Irish, for example, have families in many countries of the world – especially in America, Australia, Canada and the UK. Thinking that a family member might not be able to afford the flight back home or there are other reasons for its absence there now is the possibility to webcast a funeral. This gives those that cannot attend the opportunity to still say goodbye. Some funeral homes already offer this service with more and more following this example.

And lastly – a special way to celebrate the life of a loved one is the possibility of a themed funeral. Some celebrities, like Joan Rivers or Lynda Bellingham, asked that their funerals are made into a party – to celebrate their life. And is that really so wrong? If the personality of the deceased was fun-loving, creative and full of love and joy – why make their passing-away into a sad memory rather than the fun and joy that its life was?

A British paper reported about the funeral of a woman in England. She is said to have had a Halloween-themed funeral lead by Darth Vader and Beetlejuice and the Tasmanian Devil also present. Themed Funerals don’t need to turn into a dress-up but can be as simple as including certain elements like motorcycles, horse carriages or certain color-influences.  In 2012 another British paper reported about “disco-themed ceremonies”,  “BBQ wakes” and other unconventional funerals – although this is said to have been part of an American TV Show, so some facts might have been blown up out of proportion.

Death is something that will happen to all of us. The question is – do we want our funeral to be a sad event and think about the death or do we want to celebrate the life we have had?