An Individual Funeral

An Individual Funeral

Much is written nowadays on how funerals have changed and are, continuing to change. Is there a limit? Perhaps a more apt question would be, “Is there anything I can do differently?” or, “Is there anything that hasn’t been done?”

Of course not everything has been done yet; there are no cremated remains currently bound for Mars but who knows? The future will reveal more than the limit of my imagination, though down here on Earth, people are individualising funerals more and more – why?

Being older, I think current generations are deprived, in some ways? Others say, they are the generations of the ‘entitled!’ Not for discussion here – that subject. However, my meaning is this: growing-up through the 60’s, we not only saw the ‘Pop’ explosion with the ‘coming-of-age’ of Elvis Presley and the subsequent boom of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks to name but a few; we had, ‘Flower Power,’ Purple Hearts, Vietnam, Free Love, The Bee Gees, Abba, Woodstock, Long Hair, Short Hair, Mods & Rockers, Teddy Boys, Hob Nailed Boots, Guitars, Sitars, Hippies, Pot, Yoga, Karma – the list is almost endless, we even had a ‘Royal’ divorce!

What we did was, revolutionary – not in a violent way because we were, ‘Banning the Bomb,’ as I recall? Beeching was doing something with the railway – it was a hectic time of change with technology on the brink of digital emergence, heck, we did that too!
Video games, Commodore computers – Apple? Hmmm.. and of course, Clive Sinclair.

The problem we created unfortunately was that we didn’t leave a lot for the generations that followed us – they have no identity of their own. Yes, they keep trying to re-invent the wheel and think they’re pretty good but, we know how it went the first time round.

It’s a struggle. Through the 20th century, there are defining decades of change: Queen Victoria, Henry Ford; Wilbur Wright, World war I; The Industrial Revolution; The Depression; World War II; The Welfare State; Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran; The Beatles – pop music; Discothèque, The Gulf War – what exactly do people growing-up today have to offer or, be identified with? Mobile Phones, Video Games, I-this and that; Digital Photographs or ‘Selfies’ and of course, the ubiquitous Facebook!
Hardly a recommendation and still, mostly provided for them so, no wonder they try to find ‘how’ to be different and in truth, they have succeeded in numerous areas but they usually begin with the word, “Extreme.”

Now is their time: parents are dying and the power of the internet, a particular skill area of this generation, is being used to not only arrange their funerals online in some way or fashion but to read and upstage the exploits of those who dared to do something different or outrageous.

Princess Diana’s funeral was epic. Elton John to name just one performer was seen by millions who tuned in their televisions all over the world.

Today, crematoria produce a ‘Top Twenty List’ of the most popular songs requested at funerals.
In a few short years, I have seen the profession change from using an organist to, cassette tapes, all individually ‘keyed-up’ and ready to go to the advent of CD replacement to, ‘online’ music libraries almost throughout the country. Classical music, hymns, with or without choral accompaniment and popular songs from the last 75 years are no strangers to funeral services and, in churches too!

Scottish Pipers, air fly-bys, dove and white pigeon releases; helium filled balloons, cremated remains turned into jewellery and diamonds; shot into the air in fireworks; sent down the river, scattered on the motorway, dropped from hot-air balloons, taken out to sea, to the moors, beauty spots, golf courses, favourite cricket clubs or football grounds; coloured coffins painted with football team colours, cardboard made to look like wood, wicker, bamboo, seagrass - the list is infinite.

With 75% of all funerals in England and Wales, possibly the United Kingdom culminating in a cremation, crematoria have facilitated the public’s desire and dreams for their own commercial gain – after all, cremation is a business created to deal with death; businesses run or exist because of profit; shareholders benefit, the public benefit – everyone’s a winner?      The ‘church?’ – Well, that’s another story!


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