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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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About the Author



Being a high school principal's daughter was not always fun. As an active community leader, my dad (along with my mom) often felt obliged to visit dead people. Babysitters must have been hard to come by because I had to tag along to the funeral parlor. Invariably, I was planted on a seat within view of people milling around and commenting about how good the corpse looked. What were they thinking?

As an impressionable child, I observed and cogitated. The usual scenario was yucky! Did it have to be this way? It was dark with those ugly amber and dimly lit so-called funeral parlor lights flanking the casket, casting more gloom than glow... dreary with everyone morosely bereft of their usual smiles and speaking in hushed monotones... austere with the funeral directors standing solemnly (being sure to assume a stagnant posture with hands folded) when not robotically animated... plain and lifeless with everyone garbed in tragic black... and always the same monotonous scene every time I was there.

Apparently, the rebel in me was activated by these disgruntled observations during formative years. By the time my dad died, diversity governed arrangements. The celebration of life that was planned and implemented for burial of his cremated remains and commemorative events could not be described as funereal or ordinary. The occasion took place a few months after his death, so by then I had digested the reality of loss and was able to become energetically ensconced in preparations.


It was a memorial weekend chock full of activities that highlighted my dad's background and characteristics. Family and friends gathered on the campus of his alma mater, Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, which was within driving distance of Freysville and his grave site at a rural cemetery.

Everything we did related to his life in relevant significance... Friday's dinner in a diner overlooking the train tracks that transported him to and from college... Saturday's committal service at the cemetery within view of the house where he was born... an ice cream social in the cozy cottage that had been his fraternity house... the twilight memorial service in a building designated for music and arts education... the dinner in a restaurant frequented by Eisenhower... the Gettysburg battlefield tour on Sunday (bespeaking my dad's original role as a history teacher)... and so much in between... through the tears, all joyfully reflected his individuality and our appreciation for his life

                            
                           
Afterwards, I realized that contemplation of future life endings could present opportunities for meaningful event planning. Since bereavement typically immobilizes creativity (and most everything else!), doesn't it make sense to initiate arrangements for one's own affairs rather than subjecting family members to woeful decision confrontations under pressure? Usually, events are conducted promptly after a death when a state of turmoil prevails. Wouldn't this be a valuable contribution to loved ones' emotional stability at a time when they are apt to feel weak and vulnerable? Why not enjoy the process of making decisions, suggesting ideas, and noting preferences while still engaged in life? Maybe preliminary participation would engender a sense of control and satisfaction that could make the prospect of life's inevitable ending a little less oppressive.


So I gathered information and compiled material in hopes of inspiring people to address funerary matters through this perspective. Since the subject of death generally is forsaken, I wrote and formatted a planning resource in an uncommon manner – interspersed with recreational distractions and whimsical flair to render the reading of it pleasantly palatable.
Through the book, community presentations, a website, and blog articles, I am committed to awakening people from sleepy avoidance and indifference relative to issues of post-death management. I aim to stimulate awareness of possibilities for personalized approaches and affairs... with dreariness overpowered by colorful vigor. Funerary opportunities can be enriching. And death can be a matter of life!


                            



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