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.


Sunday, March 16, 2014


JOURNEY JOURNAL... Naples, Florida


Don a blindfold to wrap your mind around a new concept.  You will be led to a place where the fruit of mulled inspiration has been realized.  Instead of your eyesight, you will use other senses to determine where you are. 

Upon approaching a building, you hear the gentle sound of palm tree leaves brushing against each other amid balmy breezes.  Beyond the front door a female voice emanates from a reception desk on the right.  The welcoming individual leads you along the spacious lobby and through another door on the left.  

After a momentary respite in a cushioned chair, you stand before a substantial object that you are asked to explore with your hands.  This may be a dead giveaway once you feel the glass of a round high-top table surface that rests upon the familiar curvatures of a barrel.

Sure enough, you have concluded accurately that you are in a wine cellar!  With that realization, your taste buds begin to salivate in anticipation of a mouthfeel of palate sensations.  

But, wait!  With wide-open access to the lobby allowing for extraneous awareness, you detect an aroma of fresh bouquets when the door opens to the adjacent room. Meanwhile, from that source you savor the melodic articulation of a type of music typically unheard in this supposed environment; it is a hymn – the label of which you easily resurrect from the cavern of your childhood churchgoing recollections.

Now you feel confused.  You wonder where, indeed, you are!  Someone who you erroneously surmise is a sommelier reveals the answer upon suggesting that you remove your blindfold.  Through a glass wall you catch the flavor of what’s going on in the room diagonally next door.  To your astonishment, you realize it is a full-bodied funeral service! 

You thirst for a sense of transparency, an orientation to the unique aspects of this setting that will dilute your sense of discombobulation and provide clarity.  Here you stand in a space that exudes opportunity for the sweetness of a casual social milieu, though at the moment folks are occupying a proximal area where funereal tartness is presumed.  You want further proof that you are in a funeral home, but the classic racks of wine bottles along the wall belie such validation.   

The innovative creation of a wine cellar is of recent vintage at the Hodges Funeral Home.  Perhaps bottled-up emotional expressions can be tapped here where a mimicked milieu simulates authentic public wine venues traditionally geared toward conviviality.  It is a place for the fluidity of relaxation that can override the dryness of generic funeral gatherings.  

Mourners appreciate the ambience of this comfort zone.  While seated or standing at the barrel tables festooned with a bevy of corks under glass, they can view a television screen that showcases a video of a decedent’s lifetime hallmarks.  A tribute video is superimposed on one of several background scenes that can be chosen by a family to accentuate a distinctive connection to the decedent's lifetime experiences.


If a caterer has been employed, they can consume food and even real wine, as long as the caterer has a liquor license.  At this point, that little detail is beyond the scope of a funeral home, so all of those bottles lining the wall are empty.  Restaurant owners and individuals donated them to bolster the decorative design. 

A nearby reception room might be utilized as well. 

Guests have endorsed this novel approach to memorial celebrations, purportedly giving it rave reviews.  They are apt to leave the premises with a positive aftertaste, probably prompting an attitudinal alteration of their funeral home perceptions. 

Soon there will be further blending of new appointments within this established facility.  The room where services take place is about to be transformed.  Chapel-style pews will be replaced by cushioned furniture to engender a homey atmosphere more akin to living room-style seating in a hotel lobby.

The moral of this story:  rethink the way you think about funeral homes.  They are changing in ways you would never have imagined. Sparkling effervescence is no longer foreign to the territory.  Next time you hold a glass of Chardonnay, think of the possibilities and make a toast to the new life that is being breathed into death management.  

For more word play... read the pre-planning reference book, 
Pondering Leaves:  Composing and Conveying Your Life Story's Epilogue 

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