Putting the fun in funeral

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I’ve started thinking about my funeral. I’m not at the point where I’m thinking about it in a morbid kind of way but more as an event-planning exercise.

I have to confess, I’m hoping this doesn’t turn into a tragically ironic post. You know the kind where I talk about my funeral, insist I’m healthy and have decades of duck-feeding time ahead of me, and then die 10 minutes later.

If that does happen and you end up at my funeral, don’t talk about this post. I’m not a huge fan of irony.

And now I’ve just doubled the irony quotient. So don’t talk about how I didn’t want you to talk about this post.

I think it’s important to get things squared away at this stage in my life because you never know what might happen. Any number of things could wipe me out; I’m not going to name any possibilities—see the irony factor above.

But if I expire unexpectedly and I haven’t written down my wishes, the next thing I know I could be facing eternity wearing those flamingo slippers I thought were soooo hilarious, because my family thinks that’s what I would have wanted.

You hear that phrase a lot at funerals: “That’s what she would have wanted.” It’s usually said by a kindly aunt who is positive the deceased would have wanted her hair done up in a proper beehive and a shrine to apple-pie candles placed near the coffin. “She just loved that band the B-52s and we used to get her those scented candles for Christmas every year, she adored them.”

Meanwhile, her friends are walking past the casket thinking, “Did the mortuary-makeup artist get here in a time machine? And what’s that smell? It smells like my grandmother’s apron after it caught fire that time.”

I want to avoid that.

If you Google fun funerals one of the first images that comes up is a casket carried by clowns. Is that actually fun?

There are all kinds of themed funerals including Star Wars where Storm Troopers march behind the casket. Dessert is a theme too. A sign reading “Life is short, eat dessert first” encourages the grieving to munch on an RIP gravestone-shaped sugar cookie.

An Ohio man in his 80s named Bill Standley wanted to be buried on his Harley-Davidson, so his over-size plexiglass coffin was hitched to a truck with Standley perched atop his beloved hog so he could have one last ride as the procession went to the cemetery (watch a clip HERE).

Of course Pinterest is all over the do-it-yourself funeral crafts, like memorial photo necklaces and tips on how to make memory jars surrounded by twinkly lights and rocks with inspirational sayings on them.

In case there’s any confusion, I don’t want any of this. I don’t know exactly what I want, but I do know this: no plodding and dull farewell full of organ music. And no sing-song-rhymey-Hallmark-card poetry.

There will be a dress code too. No black, grey, navy or brown. Surely it’s not too much to ask people to wear something festive even if it’s February. I don’t want some kind of tracksuit affair but maybe the men could leave their suit jackets in the car. They usually look like awkward children wearing suit jackets their parents figured they would grow into and I feel sorry for them. Middle-aged men may grow bigger but their arms don’t get any longer.

A summer funeral has loads of possibilities, there could be a waterslide and old-timey fair games like the one where you throw a plastic ball into the goldfish bowl and win the goldfish.

I have a real fondness for Nerf guns but haven’t quite figured out how to include them. Feel free to leave a note if you have any ideas.

For the anti-social funeral planner who wants to kill people with boredom, 30 minutes of interpretive dance is a great idea. I considered this briefly.

Music is the trickiest part. No surprise, Pinterest can help with that too. Someone posted a list of the 40 saddest songs with Adele’s “Someone Like You” in the top spot. I don’t want sad. I want Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy,” I’m just not sure exactly when, and Kermit the Frog’s version of “Rainbow Connection” is about as sincere as I want to go.

Maybe it’s vain but I want people to remember my funeral. I want people to talk about the three-tier cake and the chocolate fountain in the car on the way home. I want someone to find a stray Nerf bullet in her purse a day later.

I want people to arrive at my farewell party somber and devastated, of course, but leave uplifted with a fresh scone smothered in clotted cream and strawberry jam wrapped in a floral napkin.

Maybe this is all just desperation coming from an only child with no children of her own hoping to leave a small mark on the world.

But a post-mortem legacy is harder to come by than finger sandwiches and tea served in pretty china teacups.

We’re all going to kick off sooner or later and there will be plenty of bad days before then, so why plan one? Bring on the New Orleans jazz band and a tray of Cosmopolitans!


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