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Content here represents the voice of SIGNATURE SUNSETS, an informational initiative designed to broaden and brighten horizons in the funerary domain.

The material is an outgrowth of a pre-planning reference book, Pondering Leaves: Composing and Conveying Your Life Story's Epilogue, written by the author of this blog.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

PERSONAL FEATURES

IDENTITY MARKS

Imagine how people scurrying through the streets of Manhattan might appear when viewed from above.  What a massive array of human protoplasm!  Most likely, airborne observers way up in the sky would conjure images of swiftly moving ants… or maybe even animated globs… or specks if they are flying high enough. 

Though there are many of us on this planet, and though we share similarities, each one of us is different.  Just as each person’s handprint is distinct, so is each one’s life.  As you recall funeral affairs you’ve attended, can you remember proceedings that truly marked the uniqueness of the person who had died? In the past, your recollections probably would have been blurry, but nowadays you are more apt to come away from such events with a sense of personalized clarity.

Funeral home administrators as well as consumers are recognizing the worth of enhancing or replacing traditional fare to commemorate a life.  Actually, in many instances, “life celebration” is the preferred jargon for an event.  “Cookie cutter” approaches are becoming passé.  Instead, each decedent is more apt to be recognized for the manner in which he or she impacted family members and communities.  Individual experiences, accomplishments, characteristics, and signature features are being accentuated so that someone’s spirit endures within the minds of others long after one’s physical presence is gone. 

Although the bereavement of death cannot and should not be denied, through the tears, features of someone’s life can be highlighted joyfully.  Recently I met a woman in her nineties whose husband died several years ago.  To this day, she beams with satisfaction because of the way she managed his funerary proceedings.  The burial took place on a Tuesday so that the most difficult part of the occasion could be completed promptly.  The following weekend, she found a way to draw attention to her beloved companion’s talent and wit.  As an adjunct to a memorial service, several of his carpentry projects depicting his sense of humor were displayed.  One was a small, hand-carved edifice resembling a gazebo that had a wooden block with tacks in it; it was a “tax shelter” that had been given to a lawyer for his desk.  Another was a wooden number one with a hole in the middle of it for a golfer.  A replica of a man’s shoe had a miniature French horn sticking out of the sock.  To entertain fast food quarter-pounder enthusiasts, there was a small mallet elevated and poised to come down on a quarter embedded in the base.  A wooden hairbrush for a bald man was purely wood without any bristles attached. The man’s cleverly painted portraits had been exhibited also. Then there was the picture he had always carried in his wallet just as folks do when they whip out photos of their children and grandchildren to display their “pride and joy.” His photo was a bottle of Joy dishwasher detergent next to a bottle of Pride furniture polish.  When I visited this widow, as she showed me many of these residual masterpieces, she exuded enthused contentment because people still convey to her fond memories of the service and its accompanying paraphernalia.  She is contentedly pleased that it was a lighthearted reflection of her “happy-go-lucky” and ingenious husband.  

All it takes is a little thought and a little planning to decide how one would like to be remembered and to develop ideas for one's own commemoration.  And even in this context it's possible to feel the exhilaration of creativity.  There can be energy in matters of death.
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