As a society we celebrate the love and the expressions of love in our lives. We come together as a family and as friends to embrace the people expressing their love through the purchase of a family home, the wedding, the addition of children. We publicly acknowledge their love through ceremony and we support their love through the housewarming party, the wedding or baby shower. We make sure that they get a good start to this new endeavour in life maybe because we ourselves have been there and know how difficult a start in life can be. We want to let our loved ones know that they have our support.
So why don't we throw a funeral shower? Isn't a funeral a public ceremony to show people the love and grief we feel at the death of our family or friend? Is it not a new start in life, one without that person, an adjustment in identity, a need for support? Wouldn't our society look at death differently if we celebrated the love in the life at the time of death?
Imagine a funeral shower as a coming together of people (family and friends) after the death in a poignant celebration to honour the life of that person and support the people who loved them.
You may think that is the funeral. A funeral is a ceremony run mostly by a funeral home and funeral director, people who never knew the loved one, trying to memorialize them based on pictures and memories pulled together possibly under traumatic circumstances by grieving individuals. A funeral is a necessary event to publicly acknowledge the death but it does not necessarily give the family the love and support they need to sustain them.
Maybe the funeral shower could have a theme (like fishing/hunting for someone like my dad) and people would bring prepared dishes for freezing, groceries and gifts that the family will need to cope and manage through the next couple of months. There could even be games, activities that gave people the opportunity to tell stories about the loved one, play on nostalgia, allow people to express love for that person in a public display of affection through the sharing or memories.
What if the gifts at a funeral shower were gift certificates toward the headstone (they are costly), handyman services, lawn maintenance packages, home grocery services, all bought and paid for. What if a funeral shower honoured the life of the loved one by ensuring their family was looked after for the start of this new life?
What if like a honeymoon period, where newlyweds have excuses for their cuddling and public displays of affection, we acknowledged a bereavement period where family and friends were allowed to act out of character, express their grief, have excuses for erratic behaviour? Granted grief stays with you much longer than a honeymoon period but it would be a start for society to acknowledge grief as an expression of love and death as the start of a new life for those that loved that person.
Imagine if we allowed death to be a celebration of the love we had and the grief we are experiencing where the expectation is that these things exist and need our love and support to provide a healthy start for those grieving? Something to think about.