10 Unique Ways to Say Goodbye
1. A Life Appreciation Funeral
A life appreciation service is designed to personalize the more
traditional funeral service. One example involved a beloved grandmother
whose large weekend meals routinely packed the house with children
and grandchildren. In celebration of her passing, a special service
was arranged that involved the recreation of such a meal. Family
and friends gathered in a banquet room and shared food prepared
from grandma’s recipes. As they talked informally, small,
personal mementos were given to each person present.
2. A Celebration of Life Funeral
In Ghana, Africa, funerals are often creative, colorful and viewed
as a celebration of life. When Sowah Nortey, a lifelong Ghana taxi
driver, passed away, his family commissioned the manufacture of
a custom-made coffin in the form of a white Mercedes-Benz. The replica
car was wooden, with four doors, windshield wipers, rearview and
side-view mirrors, an antenna, a Mercedes-Benz emblem on the hood,
an exhaust pipe, reflectors and tags. Nortey’s family chose
this design because he drove a Mercedes-Benz sedan for most of his
career. His family felt this special coffin both symbolized and
celebrated his love for his work.
3. A Jazz Funeral
When jazz singer Blue Lu Barker died in 1998, she was given a traditional
New Orleans Jazz Funeral - a tribute to life, rather than a concession
to death. Typically, a jazz funeral is arranged according to the
wishes of the deceased, who often has chosen the music and the musicians
as part of a funeral preplanning process. Barker’s wake featured
jazz legends that honored her by performing in a funeral parade
of music and dance that proceeded through the streets of New Orleans.
4. Space Flight
In 1997, it became possible to place cremated remains into outer
space. A company called Celestis offers services that will launch
a portion of cremated remains into the orbit of the Earth or the
moon. For those interested in even greater adventures, remains can
be placed on the moon’s surface or shot beyond the solar system
and into deep space.
5. Burial at Sea
A slightly more traditional form of distribution involves the scattering
of cremated remains at sea. Charter boat service companies will
take a family out to sea, where they can hold a brief ceremony and
scatter remains over the water. Charter air services are also available
to scatter remains from the sky.
6. Sharing Memories
Hoping to share and reflect upon the memories of their deceased
mother, one family asked all their loved ones to make a list of
the things they remembered most about her. The memories were read
aloud at the funeral home as everyone gathered around the departed.
At the conclusion of the graveside services, family members released
white helium balloons as a symbol of the moving on of her spirit.
7. A Celebration Box
A celebration box, like a time capsule, is a container filled with
mementos of the deceased. The box offers a way to include family
and friends in a celebration of the life of the deceased, and becomes
a special treasure for future generations. Photographs, postcards,
letters, poems, thank-you notes, tickets, souvenirs from a holiday,
a button from a favorite jacket, jewelry, a copy of a team certificate,
a club badge, medals, or a special hat are among the items suggested
for inclusion. The celebration box can be filled at home prior to
the funeral or placed in an accessible location in the back of the
church or chapel, and returned home after the final ceremony.
8. A Memorial Service at Home
Following the death and funeral of her husband Stan, Margaret Chisman
held a special memorial service at her home. Once all her guests
arrived, she revealed a table covered with personal items that reflected
and exemplified her late husband’s life. Later, Margaret played
one of Stan’s favorite songs and invited everyone to share
a personal memory or anecdote.
9. A Park Memorial
Special tributes help us remember special people. Shortly after
the death of former Beatle John Lennon, Strawberry Fields was created
as a memorial to him in New York City’s Central Park. Strawberry
Fields is located across from Lennon’s former apartment, in
a part of the park he often visited with his family. The memorial
features plants from around the world and a mosaic of the word “Imagine.”
Strawberry Fields aims to inspire peace, in honor of a man who committed
his life to the quest.
10. An On-line Memorial
A variety of Internet websites and web servers offer new ways to
remember the deceased. Depending on your interests, it is possible
to create an entire website devoted to a loved one, or to simply
post an obituary.