Have you ever attended a funeral where you walked out of the event with a feeling like the person was not truly known to the person who officiated? Did their message leave you with a sense of sorrow because you knew more about the person who died than they did? That has happened more than one time when someone is new to a community, like a parent who relocated here from 40 years living most of their lives somewhere far away. Maybe their home pastor who knew every part of their lives is four states away and cannot travel to officiate, and their funeral and burial your is here. So, there is no clergy member who knows their lives, their struggles, their triumphs, and their joys. What do you do?
Telling the story of our lives involves turning the entire concept of “What is a funeral” inside out and reinventing how things are presented in truly sharing who a person really was in their lifetime. In the way funerals are conducted now, families have so many new and, dare I say, fun ways to celebrate the lives of those they love the most. Remembering the happiest times in one’s life guarantees that the sharing of stories and events can be done without as much pain as when we recount events in a chronological, somewhat more sterile environment, using just words and presenting facts to absorb and recall later as having made an impact.
The Nov. 4 edition of the Wall Street Journal featured a story “How Morticians Are Putting the Fun in Funerals” and it describes the importance of themes in funerals that are present-day best described as true “Celebrations of Life.” With no disrespect to traditional funerals, which are still the choice of many of our families, we are well suited to offer nontraditional more “themed” services to families who want to try something new in telling their loved ones’ stories.
We have a Certified Life Celebrant and Tribute Writer on our team, Dawn Lee Wakefield, who helps you create the kind of service you want to present to family and friends who are attending. If you have some preliminary ideas and want to consider how they can be incorporated in a Celebration of Life service.
Most times these events occur at our Bryan location in our Bluebonnet Community Room, but we have extensive experience in holding memorial services at locations around town, from graveside to the beautiful ballroom of the boutique Stella Hotel, to the banks of Riverside Park near the source of water bordering the park perimeter. An extensive amount of experience in preparing for groups of any size is what our funeral directors and Life Celebrant offer to each family. They are equally skilled in preparing for a traditional church worship service in your home church or sanctuary of choice.
Our themed services are personal, not premade templates; when you share that the priorities in your parents’ or children’s lives were centered on a particular hobby or cherished skill (e.g., fishing, farming, golf, motorcycle racing, gardening, etc.), we can build a celebration of life that includes the most important aspects of their lives. Songs they loved, the ones they claimed as “theirs” or “their favorites” are even more appreciated when heard during the celebrations of life.
It may seem wrong to refer to putting fun into funerals and yet if a person’s life was filled with joy, doesn’t it make sense to convey a lot of that joy to the people who gather to pay respects to their lives? We believe it does.
Some people are longtime faithful alumni to where they went to school. They are active in visiting their high school or college campuses for sporting events and homecomings whenever they can. They donate to scholarships at those campuses to help future generations. Therefore, it makes sense to include their loved schools in some of the décor that we help you arrange in the lobby when there are visitations.
You may have photos available for a slide show, but you can also bring larger framed favorite photographs with you early to display in our lobby, so that your visitors can enjoy seeing pictures that brought you joy and good memories. People love to see photos that are decades old. It’s a part of their life that is new and fun to discover.
Was your loved one an artist or creative person? It’s always fun to discover the art that someone made during their lifetimes. Sometimes, friends of 20+ years don’t know everything about their longtime friends, so discovering things you did not know brings an extra smile during a time of grief. It helps families to share what was important to their loved ones with others. During visitation times, being able to explain to people the importance of childhood friends, activities, and favorite things is cathartic.
From themes involving sports, to hobbies, to outlining careers of grand achievement, each category brings an opportunity to share. Sharing a favorite story, song, instances of growth and development that led to your loved one becoming who they were to you is the best way in which to wish a beloved farewell to the people in your life. We specialize in honoring those alumni who have favorite schools. Examples of what we do for Aggie services are found here.
Recently there was a graveside service for a gentleman who had served in the military. At his service were three family members and three caregivers. Family members could share what was important to him in his childhood, and the caregivers knew his daily and current year likes and favorite things. Together they told the story of his life. Perspective, however, is based on the time in which people are in each other’s lives. For the first part of someone’s life, hopes and dreams fill the time and minds of children and young adults—what they hope to become and what they are willing to pursue as a path.
Reality comes in adult life, as people make choices that take up some of the space that was once filled with dreams. The story of one’s life then, is a combination of phases and stages of people, places, and events that define the development of a person into an amazing husband, wife, father, mother, sister, parent, and employee, boss, and retiree. Military service may enter their world. The elements and perspectives that develop over time offer so much information to share with others about what and who were truly important to that person. At Callaway-Jones, we help you tell the stories about your loved on, and we can help you define the themes that you want to use to share their stories. Together, we make sure their memories live on beyond one day, one moment in time, when you say goodbye and say, “Rest on.” Rest on, indeed.