We did just that. As a family we planned what to say, what to read, who to share, when to open it up for anyone to share. We were so pleased with our finished service that we told Father B. we didn’t need him for the service. We would do our own funeral at the mortuary and, if available, would he meet us at the cemetery for an interment blessing? He agreed.
We, a family of daughters and son, grandchildren, cousins, nieces, and nephews, shared our love and appreciation for the matriarch of the family. We did it our way, with our words, our stories, our and others sharing. It was the best funeral I have ever gone to—-and I’ve been to many.
Our grieving began long before Dorothy’s death while we were still grieving Don’s death. Coming together with the purpose of planning a funeral service channeled our grief in a productive way. It gave us not just something to do, together, but gave us a creative outlet for the emotions we were feeling. Not only were we creating something of significance to us, we were doing it together, as a family, as a unit. Most of the time we lived in different states and had different lives. We were bonded by family but were separate in living. This was a way of coming together, of rekindling that love and unity that symbolizes family.
You really can’t call what we did a home funeral —-because it wasn’t in any of our homes BUT it was an “outside the box” funeral. It gave us control over the content. SO often in our grief and our traditions we do what is expected of us—call a funeral company, have a visitation then a church service or skip the visitation and church service and have a Memorial service with a picture of the deceased. That is what tradition expects of us. That is how, without thinking about it, we follow burial traditions.
In the last few years I've been hearing of celebration of the Life parties, often in restaurants or bars. Some people even have Before Death funerals where the person has not died yet and attends to hear the honors given and celebrate their life. Also, in-home bathing of the body, keeping the body at home with no embalming, and in-home visitations are occurring. Choices in how the body is interred, cremated or otherwise disposed are also broadening.
What is the purpose of my writing this? To suggest that as part of our Advanced Directives we can ask for the kind of service we would like. I'm writing this also to give us all permission to “break the rules,” to think outside the box, to find a meaningful way of celebrating a life, of saying goodbye.
Something More about... How Do You Want Your Life To Be Celebrated?
My book, The Final Act of Living: Reflections of a Long-Time Hospice Nurse I go into detail about Advanced Directives and other topics that we need to address before our final act of living.