On Halloween, October 31, we celebrate ghosts and spooky things. The souls of the deceased are remembered on November 1 and 2, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, respectively, also known as the Day of the Dead.
However, you may not know that October 30th is 22second abbreviation Create a great funeral day annually. Before the Halloween ghosts and Day of the Dead spirits roll in, there’s usually a funeral or memorial service—the party no one wants to plan.
Facing the thought of our death causes uncomfortable thoughts. Instead of confronting the inevitability of our own death, our culture denies death. However, at the same time, we have this massive celebration of scary things and death related things on Halloween.
The idea behind creating a great funeral day is to think about how you would like one to be remembered. By letting your loved ones know how you like to celebrate your life, the survivor’s experience can be much easier.
Creating Great Funeral Day began in 2000, and Stephanie West Allen started. She saw her husband struggle to hold a meaningful funeral for his mother, who had left no directions before her death. After noticing his grief, Allen felt that knowing what her mother-in-law might want would ease the pain of the preparations for the remembrance.
Why are people so reluctant to discuss funeral planning, let alone do anything concrete about it in advance?
Social psychologists cite the terror management theory, which is that all human behavior is ultimately driven by the fear of death. Death creates anxiety, not only because it can strike at unexpected and random moments, but because its nature is fundamentally unknown.
Awareness of our final death, called a “death spur,” influences our decision-making in the face of this horror. Many people decide to avoid the topic.
Creating a great funeral day urges us to be aware of our own death. This self-awareness enables us to plan reflexively in advance, so as not to let our families react disorganized and stressful after our death.
Blue Öyster Cult’s 1976 hit single, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Reaper,” is a perennial favorite on classic rock stations. Its intended message is that love transcends the actual physical presence of partners. The Reaper refers to the Grim Reaper, a traditional personification of death in European folklore.
The fear of planning a funeral is equivalent to the fear of death. Those who are afraid in one area of their life are often afraid in other areas. It won’t kill you to stay away from the fear of funerals.
Act with love, plan ahead, and talk about what you might want. Your courage will help your family reduce stress in times of grief, save money, and create a purposeful and memorable “goodbye.”
In creating a great funeral day, do not be afraid of the reaper.
Jill Rubin, Certified Secondary Specialist and The Doyenne of Death®, is a leading educator in the field of death education. One of the first Death Cafe hosts in the US, she uses humor, funny movie clips, and out-of-the-box activities to teach end-of-life themes. She has authored three books on end-of-life issues and coordinates a Before I Die festival in New Mexico. It is also an authorized funeral rite and was awarded Albuquerque Business First with the 2019 Women of Influence Award.
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