Yes, I actually heard this, “Let’s put the fun back in funeral”. WOW! How does that look? I thought of a few “fun” memories of my own.
A woman who was amazingly talented in theater, as she planned her memorial, wanted it to be a “big party”, and that is exactly what happened; right down to theatrical performances by her many friends, hilarious and outlandish stories, party favors and wine overflowing.
A young girl never grew up as she’d dreamed- to be married at the beautiful lodge that smelled of jasmine and sea air. But she was remembered at that beloved place by all that knew and loved her, with cakes and flowers and music and fireworks, where tears and laughter joined together and we all watched in awe as the “mother of the bride” greeted us in silk-suit finery. I was certain the woman-child whose funeral wish had been granted in that lovely place was watching from heaven and smiling.
A baby’s ashes, whose life never even began, were placed in a tiny marble urn. We shared birthing pictures, massive quantities of food and brave, sad, silly stories as we dug a hole, and looked out over the pond where the ashes would rest. A tree was planted, and the urn would nourish the tree so it could grow and bring comfort to parents whose arms were empty but had hearts full of the love we all glimpsed.
A garden, with colors of the rainbow blooming for birds and butterflies, was scattered with the ashes of the woman whose hands had tilled the soil and planted as if she painted the landscape from Monet’s pallet. Her friends played music and sang songs of remembrance, some rollicking and some with great pathos, and drank too much wine. The roses and peonies would bloom years later, though she no longer cared for them. Others would walk the garden path and be awed by the beauty.
A man’s life had ended too abruptly and with no forewarning. His ashes were taken by his wife and sons and sent out in paper boats that were lit as they sailed off, taking away some of the melancholy and leaving behind a sweet memory of flitting light bursting into flames and flowing water.
A bench, just a simple reminder of a man’s life whose final wish had been “no funeral” was perched on an outcrop of rock, overlooking a vast body of water with gulls crying and boats disappearing out on the distant horizon. Many a weary person would sit there and be refreshed in years to come as they gazed out at the blue horizon.
My sisters, as we planned my mother’s funeral, all putting on mom’s Mumus and red lipstick in her honor, and having my brother wear one, too, and telling some ridiculous and amazing stories about her life amid many happy and sad tears and so much riotous laughter.
Webster’s definition of fun: what provides amusement or enjoyment; specifically: playful often boisterous action or speech. I think of the effervescent singing, some with raucous bands and often unique instruments and DJs, the telling of stories, sharing of pictures, near hysterical laughter and crying without restraint, the funny and sad and beautiful all mixed up together, and suddenly the fun in funeral is not so preposterous after all.