I just saw part of a show called “Best Funerals Ever”. In this episode, the family of the deceased hired a funeral planner to put together a Christmas-themed event complete with elves, a Gingerbread man, reindeer, barnyard animals (living goats and sheep), three wise men and, of course, Santa and his sleigh carrying the casket into the church. I didn’t see Mary or Joseph but come on, it’s a funeral; there had to be some dignity.
Initially, my reaction to this over-the-top affair was the same I have had for some of the over-the-top weddings I have watched on TV – it’s only one day and what’s important is what comes after that day. But let’s face it, that philosophy doesn’t work for the funeral guest of honor. This is the dead person’s last hurrah; there are no tomorrows, so maybe he or she should be able to go out with a bang.
Despite my desire to be non-judgmental, I do have some problems concerning the “Funerals to Die For”, and in case my family sees this show and thinks “Wow, this is the way we are going to send her off”, I want to set some ground rules .
NO Guests in mascot animal costumes: No matter what the theme of the funeral, I don’t know if there should be mourners in big, furry animal costumes. I’m not a big “I want to be in the limelight” person but for this one day, I think it should be about me and having a mourner dressed as a bear or whatever might detract from people being sad that I am gone. They’ll want to take pictures with the furry guy and get his autograph, and I’ll be alone in the casket having no fun at all.
NO Live animals unless of course, my dogs want to come: If someone brings reindeer and goats and other critters, my dogs will feel the need to chase them down and this will not be a pretty scene. Plus, I am not sharing my casket with dead varmints who happened to cross the path of my pooches. Even without my dogs at the funeral, the barnyard animals will only add an element of smell that will ruin my big day especially if it’s in the summertime.
NO professional mourners: This TV funeral show had professional mourners that wailed and gyrated and looked as if they just flew in on the red eye from a strip joint in Vegas. Yes, these pros were easy to spot. If there is a need for professional mourners at my event, I hope my family finds dignified mourners who mix in well with the non-pros. I want people to think “Wow, the world is going to miss her!” And NOT “Was she a hooker?”
NO funeral Planners: From what I can tell from this show, the funeral planner was just a wedding planner in disguise. Not only did he seem to possess too much power with his position, but he seemed to delight way too much in his client’s demise. If my family insists on a planner, I ask only one thing: Do not let him or her near me before my departure. These planners don’t come cheap, and I don’t want some funeral-happy event planner hurrying the process along.
Lastly, no balloon animals, no baton twirlers, no marching bands – no themes of any sort. This being said, I am not averse to Bruce Springsteen showing up and giving me a “Jersey Girl” sendoff. Yes, I could live with that.