Choosing the service that’s right for you
As Yogi Berra once said, “Always go to other peoples funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.” While that may be a pretty clever quip on Yogi’s part, it also underscores the importance of a funeral.
The funeral serves as a bookend for a person’s life. It’s a time for close friends and family to remember and mourn the life of a dear loved one. Because of that, it makes sense that a funeral would reflect the personality and wishes of the individual. As times and attitudes have changed through the years, so too has the way we plan our funerals. One great debate in funeral planning today is whether to have a traditional funeral or a “celebration of life.” Each has its merits, but which is best?
What is a celebration of life?
“It may be the only thing that's inevitable in life, but death is changing. Now it's a time to be joyful.” (BBC) The aging of the boomer generation has ushered in the rise of what funeral planners are calling the “celebration of life.” Unlike a traditional service, a celebration of life focuses less on the individual’s passing and instead on paying tribute to the life he or she lived. The services usually feature creative music and décor and are regularly accompanied with rules like “no tears” or “no black dresses.” Often much more akin to a party than a funeral, many celebrations feature elaborate receptions, open bars, and even party favors. Regardless of the specifics, the intention is to promote happiness at the life and accomplishments of the deceased instead of sadness at his or her passing. (CNBC)
Merits of a traditional service
While the traditional funeral may be on the decline (CNBC), these services can still be an excellent option. For those who are planning their service as an opportunity for family and friends to mourn and reflect, a traditional funeral is a great option. Traditional funerals tend to focus less on the life of the individual, opting instead for a message or liturgy to encourage and comfort the bereaved. This allows guests the opportunity to feel the pain they’re experiencing more freely. While this may be difficult at the time, it can also serve funeral guests in many ways that a celebration may not.
Which is better?
At the end of the day, it’s all matter of preference. A traditional funeral could be right for some, while a celebration of life is more appropriate for others. As you preplan your funeral, ask yourself what you want your funeral to represent. Is it a time of comfort for loved ones or a last hoorah with friends and family? And what suits your personality? Is it the traditional rites or something more personal? Perhaps it’s a combination of both. As the guest of honor, you have the privilege of deciding what your funeral will be like. If you want hymns, have hymns. If you want a sangria fountain, have a sangria fountain. When it comes to your funeral, there really is no single right answer. Plan your bookend as you see fit, and the rest of the day will fall into place.