Peter Erceg | eziFunerals
It may be the only thing that’s inevitable in life. But death and the funeral as we know it, is changing.
The funeral is an opportunity to remember and mourn the person we have lost and is an important part of the grieving process. It is also an opportunity to gather with our closest friends and family, some of whom we rarely see, and exchange happy memories and funny stories.
However baby boomers are changing the way we say our last goodbye. Instead of being a solemn event, a growing number of families are using it as a time to celebrate a persons life and be joyful. Such ceremonies are being held at parks, beaches, pubs and sporting facilities, with music, singers, releases, costumes and even fireworks used to entertain the living.
In 1960, Judy Garland performed the popular song ‘That’s Entertainment’, which has become an anthem as an opening number in many shows. Just like that famous song, the funeral is now becoming like a show, a big production, a celebration of life.
It’s not for everyone. There are plenty of others who prefer the sober dignity of a traditional church funeral, or indeed a secular service that is solemn rather than celebratory. But, for boomers and beyond, the trend is towards a celebratory event with the deceased person being the star of the show.
Although many traditional funeral directors are uncomfortable with this new trend, its important that you shop around and find a funeral director that can help you explore all the options available to you. The list of choices is as long as your imagination. Here are just a few examples.
A funeral can be a wonderful celebration of someone’s life and often people like to incorporate special and unique music and multi-media into the service. There are no rules about the type of music that is best.
A particular funeral song can remind us of the person who has passed away and provide moments of precious memories. You might choose a funeral song for the lyrics, to summarise how you’re feeling as an alternative to saying it yourself. When we are dealing with overwhelming grief, music has the ability to soothe and comfort us.
Funeral songs that have meaning to you and your loved one are a perfect choice — his or her favourite song, the song that was playing when you met, the songs you liked to sing together. Funeral songs that reflect the personality of your loved one are also a good choice. Beautiful hymns, classical music, or gentle Celtic airs also provide soothing background music and are often played while people are gathering in the chapel or funeral home.
Live music is also very powerful – it can express love, joy, sadness, celebration, humour and solemnity. It can provide comfort and has been used for centuries to mark life’s special occasions.
Tributes with pictures
Funeral media tributes such as DVD productions or photography of the funeral or memorial service itself provide a lasting memory for those left behind.
Compilation DVD or slideshow
Memorial DVD slide shows can be a great reminder of how someone lived their life, for both old and young family and friends. You can choose to show such a presentation at the funeral or memorial service, or just keep it or distribute it to guests for personal viewing.
It can incorporate photos of the person’s childhood, family, talents, hobbies and achievements; it can be funny or serious; set to music, or played in silence. There are now many companies that can create these tributes using various computer software programs. Many funeral homes now have large screen TVs and projectors in their chapels.
Photography / DVD Production
Some people may think that taking pictures or filming a Church Funeral, Cremation Ceremony or Memorial Service is a bit macabre, but for a lot of people it means a great deal to be able to look back on what is a very emotional day.
It’s also a day when people might share their personal memories of the deceased, often saying wonderful things or telling old stories, some of which you had forgotten or even never knew. These new memories will become very special, but understandably, you may be overcome with emotion on the day and unable to take it all in at the time. This is where a professional can discreetly record the day and you can watch the event at a later date and in your own time.
Also, if there are relatives living abroad and unable to attend the funeral or cremation service, you can send them a recorded copy of the day so that they can feel included in the memorial service.
There was a time when wearing anything other than black to a funeral would have been disrespectful. Nowadays, however, some people are choosing to really go out in style with themed funerals.
Some dedicated sci-fi fans have requested Star Wars themed funerals, while others ask mourners to wear superhero costumes. If that’s a bit too wacky for you, themes can be subtler, such as your loved one’s favourite colour, or reflecting one of their hobbies.
A memorial release at a funeral or memorial service can be a meaningful farewell to your lost loved one, giving comfort and sense of peace to family and friends. A memorial release traditionally takes place at the closing of a graveside service or outdoor ceremony. Funeral releases are often timed for after the reading of a Bible verse, poem, or a moment of silence.
The white dove has long been the symbol of faith, fidelity, peace and love. At a funeral or memorial service, a dove release can be a peaceful and healing tribute, as well as a beautiful way of expressing a final letting go. The releasing of white doves might bring a feeling of peace and calmness, helping bring a sense of closure to family members of the lost loved one. The doves are trained to return home after their release. You can choose to release a single bird or a flock.
Releasing butterflies adds a unique and memorable touch to a funeral or memorial service. The butterfly is symbolic of freedom, love and new life or the beginning of a new journey. Butterflies flying free can also represent the “setting free of the spirit” and releasing butterflies is a reflective yet uplifting experience.
Popular at weddings, releasing balloons is not uncommon at funerals as well. Although some people choose not to release balloons because of perceived environmental damage, latex balloons by themselves are in fact a natural product and 100% biodegradable. The golden rule if you choose a balloon release is to make sure you only use latex balloons, and do not attach any string or ribbon to the neck.
Many people now wish to make their passing a happier occasion, more of a ‘celebration of life’ where family and friends can remember someone as they were in life. A truly memorable fireworks display can be a wonderful way to commemorate the life of someone special.
The firework display can be large or small, loud and spectacular or subdued and beautiful — whatever suits the person in mind. Expert pyro-technicians can even incorporate the ashes into fireworks for an incredible display. Keep in mind that restrictions apply and vary from State to State.
eziFunerals is a free consumer advocacy and funeral planning platform that supports individuals and families cope with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company, and are not a subsidiary of any other corporation. We are not part of any other funeral company. Founded by consumers frustrated by how difficult it was to get independent information, eziFunerals supports consumers plan a funeral, compare prices and select the right funeral director anywhere, anytime.