Gathered in a circle on the mound in turn three of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on race day, each person spoke briefly, then had a moment of silence. After which, they all raised their beers and drinks, cheered and started hugging. “This was dad’s funeral celebration. Dad listened to the race on a crackling AM radio every Memorial Day weekend I can remember. We brought him to the race 12 years ago for the first time and he made every race until this one. Every time, he said, “back at Mecca”. Dad didn’t want a funeral, he wanted a celebration and what better place to do it!”
Baby boomers are breaking from old traditions. CNN reported that 2016 was the first year in U.S. history that there were more cremations than traditional burials. What’s driving this? Well, a number of factors. Fewer people than ever have a religious or church affiliation, costs much less and gives people much more flexibility in commemorating the life of their loved one.
Memorial services can be scheduled any time, days, weeks or even months after a death. With family scattered around the country and even abroad, it gives people time to plan travel and time off from work. Alternative sites are much more receptive to hosting an event with an urn present rather than a casketed body. The only caveat here is that in Indiana, if human remains are present, in a casket or in an urn, a licensed funeral director must be present.
Recent experiences include service in the shelter at Broad Ripple Park for a son that loved the days in the park with family in his early years. Celebration on St. Pete Beach where the family vacationed together for decades. Gathering and a toast on the golf course that he loved (and hated sometimes) so much.
Now we are not saying that cremation is the only way to go. There are security and comfort in tradition, religious service and a lot of people still prefer that and we certainly respect that. Regardless, best to have a service or celebration as soon as possible. Don’t put grief on hold, the funeral or celebration is part of the healing process.
Record your wishes and talk to several funeral homes. The differences in pricing can be amazing, you can often save thousands just by calling or visiting a couple of funeral homes. And some funeral homes still look down on cremation and will try to make you feel uncomfortable. Better to know that in advance than at the time of loss and choose a friendly and open-minded funeral home.
Funerals and memorial services are for the living…..do it your way and don’t let someone pressure you into something you really didn’t want.
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