Funerals are largely sombre occasions, where grieving loved ones gather to pay their respects to the recently deceased. Most people dress entirely in black, and the ceremonies are often quite religious, with hymns and readings from the Bible. All these things are considered elements of a traditional funeral.
But, as we well as know, tradition isn’t for everyone. Many people are now choosing to shun these features of conventional funerals for entirely different occasions. Themed funerals are more popular than ever, as a new generation of people come to see funerals as a celebration of life, rather than a ceremony based around death.
What is a themed funeral?
Themed funerals are more personalised occasions, usually chosen by the deceased to reflect themselves. They can be themed around a personal passion, a special achievement, a favourite colour or a much-loved place. Superhero-themed funerals have grown in popularity over the last few years, and for decades, football fans have asked those attending their funeral to come in the colours of their beloved team. We’ve seen Elvis-themed funerals, funerals with a fairytale theme, and even funerals where everyone comes in a Halloween costume.
A celebration, rather than a wake
This unique spin on the traditional funeral also extends to the event afterwards. Traditionally, guests at the funeral attended a wake. These are social events, designed to give those attending the funeral a chance to pass on their respects to family members, and commemorate the life of the departed.
But more and more people are now choosing to see this wake as a celebration. When planning ahead, many admit that they don’t like the idea of their friends and relatives being sombre or reserved, so they request that the wake be vibrant and lively instead.
Celebrities have certainly picked up on this trend. When actress Lynda Bellingham died, it was said that her wake was planned as an ‘all-singing, all-dancing knees-up’. Joan Rivers’ funeral featured Broadway show tunes performed by an all-men’s chorus. Michael Jackson famously said that his funeral would be the ‘greatest show on earth’ – and with more than 17,500 people packed inside the LA Staples Centre, watching performances by Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie and Mariah Carey, he certainly achieved that.
The importance of talking
It’s never been more important to talk with your loved ones about their wishes for their funeral. By communicating these wishes clearly, well ahead of time, you can ensure that the deceased take their final journey in the way they would have chosen.