They say that the funeral or “homegoing” service is more for the living than it is for the dead. I do know some people who begin to plan their funeral from the time they hit 50. My husband’s grandmother had all her favourite hymns ticked off in her hymn book so it was a breeze to know exactly what she wanted.
Others leave nothing to chance and ask that a particular scripture be read, a specific singer be asked to do a solo and only a certain minister be asked to give the benediction before they’re put into the ground. I’m not going to get into whether they’re actually going to enjoy the show that’s being put on for them, but it can be entertaining for the rest of us.
Here at home, I’ve always been partial to the funerals that I’ve attended at the local Catholic church – and when I say partial, I mean that I’ve actually enjoyed them. It’s probably because the chosen hymns are very upbeat, and bringing in the drums with the touch of Caribbean rhythm makes me forget for a moment that the occasion is actually a solemn one.
That’s usually enough for me, but in some parts of the US some people are requesting that funerals become fun, as opposed to the cold and sterile numbers that most of them are considered. I’m not too sure that I would appreciate a magic-themed funeral complete with a mortician who doubles as a magician, but I can understand wanting to celebrate a person’s life – without the funeral dirge.
One funeral director (because mortician just doesn’t sound right), has presided over funerals with space-alien and bowling alley themes, and he sees these send offs as celebrating the life of the person and not just disposing of the dead.
I’m not convinced that it’s really necessary to jump through hoops to provide entertainment for the mourners, because I’m pretty sure the deceased has more important things to consider at that point, and watching us play dolly-house on this side of the curtain is not one of them.
Even so I’m unsure as to whether that sort of thing is going to catch on here.
But maybe that’s just the thing some of us need to overcome our fear of the dead. I wrote a few weeks ago about graveyards and their proximity to some people’s houses, but while speaking to someone from Jamaica last week, I’ve come to realize that fear and respect are closer than we think.
How would you feel about being able to look out your window and see, nestled among the pink hibiscus and coral bougainvilleas, a headstone belonging to your grandmother who is buried in your yard? The person telling me this, noted that this only happened in the rural areas of the island and it was quite a few years ago when she last saw it.
But I think it gives new meaning to the idea of keeping your loved ones ‘close”. Don’t you?