It’s 2019 and a lot has changed — even the business of death. Today it is no longer taboo to talk about the end of one’s life, and marking the passing of a loved one needn’t be a grim, gong-and-chanting-filled affair.
While modern funerals today aren’t quite full blown block parties (we’re not that progressive), memorial services are moving away from being an arcane, superstitious affair to something that treats those who have passed in a more personable way.
Here are five things to know about funeral memorial services in our era of “wokeness”.
1. You can pre-plan your funeral
Sending off a loved one with a dreary traditional funeral ceremony can be downright depressing. More families are instead opting for unconventional funerals that focus on remembering the deceased and celebrating the life they led.
You can do this also, with the Life Celebrant, a funeral service provider that offers individuals the option of pre-planning funerals. Instead of shying away from the taboo of death, the company encourages clients to commemorate their lives.
According to its founder, Ang Jolie Mei, one lady (who knew her days were numbered) even invited her friends and family to a karaoke party to say farewell. Another client decided that rather than being dark and stifling, her memorial should be a happy function, filled with white carnations.
Pre-planning your funeral not only relieves your surviving family of the burden of funeral planning, it also allows you to have a say in how you want to be sent off. You don’t have to subject your grieving friends and family to a sombre, depressing affair. Instead, by encouraging them to focus on celebrating the life you led, you can help them come to terms with their grief.
2. You can add personal touches
If you think about it, funerals are more for the living than the dead. Which is why it makes sense there’s a growing trend of personalised memorial services. Rather than a cookie-cutter funeral filled with obscure rituals, wouldn’t an event tailor made to the preferences of the deceased be a more meaningful way to honour their memory?
Direct Funeral Services and The Life Celebrant have introduced personal touches such as memory boards and wishing trees, allowing families to commemorate the departed in a more personally meaningful way.
With a memory board, loved ones can stick photographs of their favourite memories with the deceased. Meanwhile, the wishing tree is a touching way for visitors and family members to leave their well wishes. These additions help visitors to get to know the deceased, forging a more intimate and meaningful visit. At the same time, grieving family can also keep the memory board and wishing tree as heartfelt mementos of their loved one.
Another personal touch that is increasingly in demand these days are eulogy services delivered by the celebrant, which helps mourners pay tribute by sharing anecdotes and personal memories of the departed.
3. You can opt for a tree burial
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It may be unpleasant to think about, but traditional burials exert a toll on the environment. Up to 70kg of woodis used for each coffin, along with metal, linen and other resources. Meanwhile, dangerous chemicals used in embalming eventually leak into the earth. Then, there’s also the space taken up by graveyards, which could otherwise be put to other uses.
If you or your family would rather your last act on earth be an ecologically friendly one, you might want to ask The Life Celebrant about a tree burial. As its name suggests, a tree burial involves utilising a biodegradable eco-urn that contains a tree seed. The remains of the deceased are placed in the lower chamber of the eco-urn, which is then buried.
In time, the seedling sprouts, allowing the departed to join the great circle of life. And oh, you can witness this right in the comfort of your garden, as the eco-urn can even be buried in a pot!
4. You can have unique keepsakes
Photo: Ang Chin Moh
The memorial is usually the final occasion to interact with the deceased, but increasingly, mourners are opting for personal keepsakes of their loved ones. These days, it’s considered okay — even trendy — to have a locket or a gem made out of the remains of your loved ones.
One provider of such post-funeral services is Ang Chin Moh Funeral Directors. The company offers memorial lockets, into which a small portion of ashes is placed. “As the amount of ash used is small, many lockets are possible from a set of remains,” said Nicole Yeo, its corporate services manager. At just $250 per locket, this is a budget-friendly and meaningful way to keep your dearly departed close to you.
For those looking for a more upmarket keepsake, Ang Chin Moh’s Memorial Diamonds may just be the thing. Manufactured in partnership with Algordanza Singapore, these diamonds require a minimum of 500gm of ashes each, allowing between four to six such gemstones to be created from a single set of remains.
“Families can choose the size of the memorial diamond, ranging from 0.25 carats to 1.0 carats,” Nicole said, adding that prices start from $4,588 for an uncut diamond of 0.25 carats, and from $6,399 or a cut and polished diamond of 0.25 carats.
5. You can have a fully butlered funeral
Grieving families who find themselves unable to face the challenges of planning a funeral for their loved one can find a helping hand from the professionals.
Providers such as Singapore Funeral Services Care offer premium funeral packages that provide for the smallest detail, from ensuring a dignified sendoff, to having uniformed butlers to attend to visitors, to even setting up a Wi-Fi access point in the void deck.
Such all-encompassing services free mourning families from the burden of having to organise the funeral, allowing them to focus on grieving and remembering the departed.
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