More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ceremonies for the Deceased

Just as the birth of a baby deserves a celebration, so does the death of a loved one. It is a celebration of the life he or she lived, and it allows friends of the deceased to pay their last respects and offer condolences to the family. My husband has planned his own funeral. To save money he wants to be cremated in the backyard fire pit and his ashes used to fertilize our garden. He has asked me to throw a party in his honor. Everyone should bring their own six pack of beer or a bottle of tequila, some party favors and a lot of food that I can freeze so I won’t have to cook for a while (Randy is the family chef, not me!) There will be dancing to 60s and 70s Rock-n-Roll classics, and our sons have been instructed to set off a huge display of fireworks in the cul-de-sac after dark. The media and the fire department will be notified in advance.

Most ceremonies are not as elaborate as the one Randy has planned, but I especially like the story Marsha Houser told about the celebration she attended in honor of her father-in-law’s passing:

When my husband’s father passed away, our family did not entertain grief or sorrow in a public setting. Instead we entertained guests and celebrated the life Rumsey had lived. As an alternative to a graveside service, we had dinner in the fellowship hall of the church where everyone told stories and shared memories of how much their lives had been blessed by knowing him. People were laughing, eating and enjoying the camaraderie in the midst of what some would consider a very sad event. So many times I’ve been to funerals and graveside services where I just didn’t know what to say or how to comfort the grieving family. At Rumsey’s service, we made sure everyone understood that this was a celebration of Rumsey’s LIFE, not a time for grieving his death. It was the best party the family ever had!

As he had requested, Rumsey’s body was cremated and his ashes were buried by a tree in the yard near a bench where his wife, Marlene, could sit and reflect when she missed him. To help our kids understand that Papa was still nearby, we told them that anytime they missed him they could go outside, look up at the sky, find the brightest star and know that he was near.

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