A Subdued Celebration of Life: When a Traditional Funeral Feels Like a Wrong Fit

The music world went into mourning in January 2016 when David Bowie passed away. There were public outpourings of grief, with Bowie's former home in Berlin temporarily becoming a shrine as fans deposited masses of flowers on the street and stood around in quiet reflection. While there were many impromptu memorial services, Bowie's own wishes for his passing were far more subdued. He stipulated that his body was to be privately cremated with no family or friends present. His ashes were subsequently returned to his family, who scattered them in Bali. Rather than a formal funeral service, Bowie seemingly wanted a private celebration of his life, and this is precisely what he got. If you're planning a funeral, what are the benefits of foregoing the traditional approach?

Traditional Services

It might be that the deceased would not want a traditional funeral service. Their lack of religious affiliations would make a church service almost redundant, and even a service that excludes religion might not feel appropriate. Indeed, it might feel odd to have a service led by a celebrant who did not even know the deceased.

A Celebration of Life

Any funeral planner worth their salt would be able to help you to arrange a non-traditional celebration of life. This can include a private cremation, after which the urn containing the remains of your loved one are returned to you, and it can then be a focal point of any gathering. This gathering allows mourners to come together and share memories of the deceased, but doesn't follow the schedule associated with a traditional funeral. Someone might wish to volunteer as an informal master of ceremonies to lead the affair, but this is not the same role as a funeral celebrant.

The Necessary Arrangements

A funeral home can take care of any cremation or private burial arrangements, and they can provide space for an informal gathering of family and friends to reminisce about their departed loved one. But since the gathering will purposefully be kept small and will not follow the set structure of a traditional funeral, it could just as easily be held in a private home or in a place special to your loved one. This can also be the case if you wish to scatter the ashes in a specific spot in line with your loved one's wishes.

You might suspect that your loved one would have settled for nothing less than the pomp and ceremony of a traditional funeral. But if they wanted a more subdued affair, something for their nearest and dearest to bid a private farewell, then a non-traditional celebration of life can be the best way to say goodbye. Contact a funeral planner for additional advice.