The Case For Putting the Fun in Funerals

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Celebrate A Special Life With These Cultural Funeral Traditions

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Funerals can be very similar to each other, and sometimes the significance of the deceased's life can seem downplayed. There are many ways to make a funeral a true celebration of the life of your loved one and a time for family to gain strength from each other. Find inspiration in these ethnic and cultural funeral customs. 

Jazz Festival

Many funerals in New Orleans are celebrations of life set to the tune of a jazz band or marching band. This comes from a blend of traditions from the Acadian French and Africans. 

The funeral begins with slow, quiet music that increases in volume and tempo as the ceremony progresses. By the end of the funeral, the band is playing uplifting music and many mourners are dancing. 

You don't need a huge marching band to carry on this tradition. Consider hiring a small jazz ensemble to play both quiet and uplifting music during the ceremony. 

Fantasy Coffins in Ghana

The people of Ghana have built a tradition of placing loved ones in a coffin that represents something significant in their lives. A loved one who enjoyed cars might have a coffin that looks like a classic muscle car, or someone who rescued homeless animals might have a coffin in the shape of a cat. 

You could amend this tradition by using the person's hobbies or favorite things as a theme to display around the coffin to make the funeral more unique to the person. 

Irish Wake

One Irish tradition is that the body of the departed is laid out for friends and family to see. Bodies used to be laid out in a parlor, but people today are more likely to use a bedroom in the home. The curtains would be closed, mirrors would be covered, and a window would be opened for the person's spirit to escape. Most importantly, family and friends would gather to say goodbye to the departed and exchange stories and memories of the person they lost. Plenty of food and drink are served. 

You don't have to have a body laid out in your house to get the benefits of this tradition. Invite friends and family over before or after the funeral to spend time comforting each other and remembering the person who has died. 

Seminole Removal of Belongings

Funeral customs of the Seminole Indians once included laying the body out on a chickee, a small house created with palms and thatch. The family would leave the body there, believing that the person's spirit must journey alone into the afterlife. The Seminole Indians would also gather the belongings of the person who died and throw them into the swamp. They believed that possessions would hinder the person's journey to the other side. Some Seminole people still continue this tradition. 

You can use Seminole rituals in the celebration of your loved one by gathering to discard the personal belongings of the deceased. Decide what will be donated or kept as a remembrance by family members. Sometimes having these material items accounted for can make grieving easier. 

These funeral traditions and many others can be used to help you say goodbye to your loved one. Consider which customs will help you cope with loss and remember the person you loved. For more ideas, information, and assistance with planing, contact local funeral homes in your area, like Fletcher Funeral Home PA.