Today I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal titled, Planning That Final Party, Funerals are changing – and people are taking matters into their own hands
The writer talks about her friend Margaret who was battling cancer, and spent hours on the phone with her sister planning every detail of her memorial service. She considered herself the ultimate party planner, and she had some talent in the family with her husband being a cinematographer and her brother-in-law a screenwriter. Her husband put together a slide show about her life and her brother-in-law gave an entertaining story about his entry into the family. Margaret requested her celebration of life be at an elegant and beautiful location the Ebell of Los Angeles, a historic landmark. She also requested a friend play bagpipes and another sing “I’ll Fly Away” from the film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?’
I also liked the story of the daughter who drove 20 hours to plan her father’s celebration of life. He didn’t want a church full of a bunch of flowers; being an avid fisherman, he wanted donations to go towards teaching children to ice fish. He requested a cookout by a river with a keg of beer.
The article also talked about the perils of not planning ahead. Kathy Cartwright talks about attending to a funeral of her parents’ friends. She said the funeral seemed impersonal. “There were doughnuts left over from an earlier church service, and no coffee. It was really awful, ” she says.
I hope this article gives you some creative ideas for planning a celebration of life. Like most parties, start with a good location (it doesn’t have to be a church if the person wasn’t religious), good personalized music, good eulogies or stories of the loved ones life. You’ll know it was a success if you see people laughing one minute and crying the next. A good service captures the fun and the funny moments of the person’s life as well as the emotion of missing such a treasured friend or relative.