Usually when people are making arrangements for a funeral service they believe they are doing so for the deceased. But it’s important to understand that funerals are not for our loved ones that go before us, but instead, for all of us that are still here. Funerals are in memory of our loved ones but they serve as an event for our own comfort and our own need to mourn. Many people have begun to realize this fact and have drifted away from stuffy, impersonal funerals. The days are gone where you feel guilty for not spending for an extravagant funeral service. We are now moving towards a much simpler, honest type of service that allows us to really memorialize and celebrate our loved ones without the frills.
You don’t need an expensive box, an invasive procedure, fancy car, or an outrageous service charge to memorialize your loved one because none of those things matter. All that matters is the memory of your loved one and how you are able to preserve that memory. Many people find comfort in a traditional funeral service with open casket viewings, church services and little sandwiches with noodle salad. That’s absolutely fine but let’s not follow tradition just for tradition’s sake. Instead, let’s talk about celebrating an exceptional life.
I have been a funeral director for 10 years now and I’ve directed countless funeral services of all kinds, serving these families to the best of my ability. I was a stranger to these families when they walked into the funeral home in search of help and I would be a stranger to most of them now. However, there are many that I do remember and it is the uniqueness of the ceremonies they held that remains in my mind.
Religions want us all to have the same funeral service. They feel that everyone should go by the same words and rituals because all are equal in the eyes of God. That’s why the Catholics place a pall over the casket before it is brought to the front of the chapel (As if an all mighty God could be fooled by such a tool or see value in an ornate box). If this is the way you choose to believe, so be it. Perhaps when one has dedicated their life to a religion, then the best way to celebrate that life is with that religion. One would hope that your God sees all of us as equals, but let equality set in after death because here on earth and in the hearts and minds of our family and friends, we are not equals. I love my mother and father much more than I love yours and I hope you feel the same. I would want to give them a service unique to who they are and one that properly depicts their lives and the relationships they’ve created. As a funeral director I’ve seen ashes scattered on race tracks, golf courses, oceans and cottages. I’ve seen videos, heard eulogies and stories that could make a perfect stranger cry with true love and passion in the words spoken from the most tender places in the heart. There is no dollar sign attached to that. Meaning is created by remembering, and remembering is free. With that I would encourage you to create your own memorial service or service of remembrance.
These days, many families in Toronto are having what is known as a direct cremation. This is a minimal service providing you with only the cremation of your loved one and the basic services that go along with it. Once the cremation is done, the cremated remains are released to the family and from that point you decide what’s done with them. Now you may choose to hold your own service in a meaningful location such as residences, restaurants, beaches, parks, yacht clubs or anywhere else the deceased liked to go. Not only will this be much less money but it will also make for a more meaningful and personal service.
Everyone lives a unique life full of wonderful experiences and stories. These lives should not be remembered with boring, cookie-cutter services, but rather with vigor, enthusiasm and the freedom to express feelings uninhibited by tradition that has lost its meaning.