A good send-off

by | Sep 22, 2023

If I were to ask you what a funeral looked like, no doubt most of you would say that it was a ceremony conducted at a funeral home on the outskirts of the city. And for most people, that is entirely true. A big room with lots of chairs. A booklet handed out at the entrance. A celebrant or staff member of the business leading the ceremony. A eulogy, some songs, and the casket (if there is one present) wheeled out to be buried or cremated. The whole situation happens about one or two weeks after the person has died. The caregiver has handed you a couple of options in the form of a pamphlet from one of the big funeral homes. You’re in no state to be thinking deeply about funeral preparations. You are too overcome with grief, and rightly so. And so the cycle continues of standard send-offs that don’t reflect the person who has died and the type of life they led.

However, I have been part of many dinner table conversations about this theme. “when I die, this is how I want to go”, yet will the outcome match what you hope for?

What if you knew about the other ways you could do it differently? An advanced care directive can assist you in making better post-death plans. What do we mean “differently” anyway? There are some exciting options out there. Wild, outrageous, meaningful, fun and sometimes CHEAP! Creating a meaningful farewell can be beneficial for the grieving process of others. It can seriously have a massive effect on the way people move forward. Below, I have listed just a few options of how a ceremony could very well look. What ideas do you have?

You can bring the body home if you have a cooling plate. You could take a cardboard casket home and have people decorate it with memories. Letting people spend time with the person who has died can have a lasting impact.

How about a party with a band, cocktails, a BBQ or a food truck? Decorations, colour, in your backyard. Putting the FUN in FUNerals. This could be the most relaxing scenario for people to come together and remember.

How about getting cremated, packed into firecrackers, and having a private fireworks event? Shot up into the sky at midnight! Fun and fancy.

Perhaps the person was part of a local sports club, surf lifesaving club, or community group. You could engage with these members and have a memorial service at their establishment.

A beach service could be up your alley. You could create a reflection circle with the ocean as your backdrop. People could bring natural materials that remind them of the person who has died. Perhaps a beach fire could be lit (but maybe that’s illegal).

My favourite idea is having a natural burial on private land. Imagine leaving your body to decompose on your beautiful property, nutrients for the ground. A place where people can readily visit. Not many people know this is an option if the property owner, council and director of public health approve.

So, do yourself and those close to you a favour. Make a written death plan. You won’t be there to facilitate or witness it, but others will. I think that’s a win/win.

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