Come pay your respect – YEP I’m still alive!

This week I’ve talked a lot about funerals through the story telling workshops I’ve run. We identified that a funeral is often seen as a most worthy tribute to the persons’ life. But once again it got me thinking….

What if we paid our respect in death, as we showed our respect when living.

In other words…

“What if paying your respect at your friend/loved one’s funeral, was done in exactly the same way, as you did when that person was in your life.”

Picture this….

You receive notification of the funeral service of someone who was greatly valued in your life.  You’re invited to pay your respect…. but there’s a catch.  The person whose life you are honouring, made one final request before passing.

She or he has asked that you only honour them, in the very same way over recent years, you had honoured them in life.

Knowing these final wishes, how will you honour your friend or family member?

How will you pay your respect?

It’s the day of the funeral.

Up front and centre is the guest of honour who now lay between the silk lining of a wooden casket waxed and glossed to absolute perfection.

Beside the casket is a white linen clothed table.  On that table sits a letter box, a computer screen, a phone, a kettle, a keg, and a bottle of bubbly. On the other side of the casket is a large crystal vase filled with the most fragrant flowers. In front of the casket are several large comfy padded chairs built for relaxing and conversation. The organ music plays quietly in the background.

The day arrives.

It’s now time to pay your respect.

Think of your relationship over previous years.  Were you both card writers mostly staying in contact through birthday cards and Christmas cards?  In that respect, write a condolence card and go post it.  Why go see them now? Your card is delivered and now sits in the mail box beside your loved ones’ coffin.

Were most of your communications via email?  Finding 5 minutes in your busy week to throw together a few lines. In that case, get typing, express your thoughts of sadness at losing your friend and pop in the email address. Before long the computer screen should go ‘ping’ as your email pops into the inbox on that computer just to the side of your friend.  You’re done, respect paid. No need to interrupt your busy day.

Maybe the savvy technology of the smart phone and Facebook was your ‘thing’ to keep the embers of your relationship alive. So here you go. One ‘sad face’ emoji or maybe a bit more effort with a text message.  Now just hit send to the contact number you had saved in your phone.  Your loved one’s phone is perched right up there, just beside the coffin. Respect paid.  No need to attend. Nothing to see here.

Maybe you’ll send flowers!

But if you never went to the expense of sending beautiful fragrant flowers for this person to embrace and enjoy in life, then why start now? Why bother choosing only the best to send in death?

But then there are those of you who can walk on in and take one of those comfy seats up front.  Your perception of respect takes on a more personal flavour.

The interaction between the two of you was making the time to see one another, share a laugh, a story and spend time in each other’s company.  That was always a priority in both your lives.  In that case…come on down, kick your shoes off and come say goodbye.  Make a cuppa, pour a beer or pop the champagne cork. Pull up a chair and sit beside your loved one. Give them the time in death, you always found to give them in life.

Respect is about giving to those you love when their heart is pumping and eyes wide open. Be that person in life and then rightfully in death.

When thinking of a funeral service in these terms, you begin to wonder just how many chairs and champagne glasses will be filled when you are the guest of honour at your own final celebration of life.

Once again it got me thinking.  Why as a society do we seem to feel we must mourn the decaying contents of a wooden box as our only way to have that last memory of someone we loved and cared for.

I’ve made a decision and I’ve shared it with my family. I’m ditching the funeral service all together. Stick me in a box, shut the lid and let those who are paid to do a job, just get on a do it.  For my friends and family please please please go have a long lunch, a party or a ‘gatho’ in my honour.

I don’t want the bells and whistles, tears and tantrums when my time comes to walk through those pearly gates.  As I have of my parents; I don’t want the last memory of me to be inside a big shiny wooden box.  I’d like to simply remain the last memory we shared together in life….not in death, even if it is just a couple of funny faced emoji.   Hey, but do feel free to pop as many champagne corks as tickles your fancy.  I promise I’ll be there in spirit.

Until next time….  Celeste.