Why is it not called a “Sad”eral instead of a “Fun”eral?

Jennifer sits with her back turned and is in silhouette looking over a beautiful sun setting on a lake

Jennifer Davis, Founder, Playing With Sparks

30 May 2017

I am starting to hear more and more that people don’t want a funeral they want a celebration of life, and they don’t want anyone to be sad at their event, they want them to feel happy and to feel more like a party.

I have just attended a very sad funeral where a friend died by suicide. To be honest, I think it was one of the most real and honest funerals I have ever been at – I perceived it to be an attempt to explain why he made that choice. But in hearing the truth of his life story, the fragile and tough moments he had as well as the impacts of all that he was, and hearing the gut-wrenching cries of his young child left behind – it did not feel like a party.

“…when do we get to be sad and shed tears? Must we do that …alone?”

My question for those that want it to be a party – is when we do we get to be sad and shed tears? Must we do that in the privacy of our homes, alone?

A dandelion-like flower is featured in front of a blurry green backdrop

Dying flower

Photography via Unsplash

In fact in North America (Christian faiths) funerals/wakes used to be held in the home – often in the front “parlour” if the house had such a luxury. Family was typically the ones who cared and bathed and prepared the body. That would certainly give one plenty of time to weep and mourn over their loved one gone. Then furniture or cabinet makers who were often the casket makers as well would offer the parlour or showroom of their furniture store as a place to gather if there was no space in the home. They became the early “undertakers” or people who under-took the work of dealing with the dead. So as we leave these intimate acts to professionals, does our grief get “out-sourced” too?

“…does our grief get ‘out-sourced’ too?”

And don’t even get me started on “visitations”. The similarity to a typical North American wedding reception is pretty grim if you ask me. Lining up in a receiving line to utter words too small and trite to cover the huge space that has opened up in the mourners’ life. Flowers everywhere. Of course a big difference can be the presence of a coffin in the room. But even the deceased can be wearing make-up and often their best clothes if they are on display. I get that they are the star of the show and the reason why we are there – but can’t they be “real” in the bodies last moments intact? If we can’t stand to look at a dead body, then why do we put them on display?

Yellow buttercups blow in the wind amidst lush green grass

Yellow flowers

Photography via Unsplash

Thank goodness there are other options – or should I say more of return to the way it was. Home funerals, natural or green choices for burials. More of the DIY approach and less of the professional intervention. Nature doesn’t mind tears – it’s what makes the grass and flowers grow. As we return to some of these practices that allow the family back in to caring for their dead, let’s not forget to make a space first for sadness and grief and even gut-wrenching crying. There is a time for joy and celebration and it will naturally rush into to the places in our broken-open hearts as our grief gets seen and heard and felt and shared.

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