I do what I do because….
I want to be the person who helps others, honoring them without question or judgment, to create a ceremony that best reflects them at a cost that most can afford, and provide help with costs for those who cannot afford a ceremony.
I have also discovered, in my opinion, that weddings and funerals seem to be focused on the feminine (ie: florals and soft themes), but from personal experience, these soft themes do not represent everyone. My father was an avid outdoorsman, a proud Vietnam Navy vet, and a hunter. Flowers were not his thing, but he could spend his entire life in the trees. When I tried to find tree saplings or seeds locally, there were none to be found. I was able to find a source online and purchased giant sequoia and green Douglas fir seeds to give out at his Celebration of Life.
I was also disturbed by the cost of a small urn, the guest book and service folders I purchased through the funeral home. I spent $100 on an urn that I could buy for less than $30 (retail) and less than $20 wholesale online. In addition, I paid $300 for the guest book, 100 service folders and matching thank you notes…
So far I’ve spent over $3000 on these matters, and that does not include the service to do in our hometown. I did not use the funeral home chapel either, or that would have been more excessive cost.
Part of the problem is that when someone dies, the costs are occurring immediately, and we are often not in a state of mind to do research to find the best services at the price we can afford. I went to the closest funeral home as my mind was in a fog for several weeks.
I believe that we can keep many of these costs down. We were able to have my father’s Celebration of Life at the local VFW, as he was a veteran, and members took care of most of the food for the reception. And, while the ceremony I wanted was primarily secular, my father had wanted last rites, so a dear friend, Father Ian Carmen of the Saint Bonaventure Liberal Catholic Church Mission here in Colorado Springs partnered with me to perform the opening reading and an Ashes to Ashes sections, which honored my father and gave something familiar and comforting to family and friends who may be Christians. With the Naval military honors, our Celebration of Life was wonderful, and I received many compliments.
Another Celebration of Life that I attended for a friend’s husband last year was absolutely beautiful, a combination of their Jewish heritage and other ideas. It was this experience that initially caused me to contemplate focusing on funerals and other after-death memorials. When my father died, I immediately knew that I need to do this. And I began preparing that day.