You don’t have to have a traditional funeral, if you don’t want to
On 16th August 2018, Soul legend Aretha Franklin passed away, aged 76. Her funeral took place on Friday 31st August in Detroit, accompanied by performances from the likes of fellow icon Stevie Wonder and pop star Ariana Grande. In several touching tributes to the late singer, Buckingham Palace played her hit song ‘Respect’ during the Changing of the Guard, while over 130 pink Cadillacs, a nod to her 1985 song ‘Freeway of Love’ lined the streets outside the church where her memorial was held, with people driving from across the country to make up the unique sight and pay their respects.
Funerals are the ultimate opportunity to remember a person’s life, their passions, their personality and their achievements. For those planning a funeral, it can be a chance to consider what they loved about that person and those little things that will always remind them of them, be it a certain song, flower or something a bit more obscure. Incorporating such elements into a memorial is a clever and touching way to create a day that is full of memories and joy amidst the tears. Below, we take a look at some of the more unique ways people have been remembered.
New Orleans is well known by many as the birthplace of jazz. Since the early twentieth century, jazz funerals have been held frequently across the city, with people encouraged to join in the procession to the gravesite, led by a brass band playing solemn tunes. For the return procession, lively, happy jazz music is played to ‘celebrate life’. The tradition actually extends back for centuries, with roots in West African burial traditions.
A literal representation of the saying ‘going out with a bang’, in recent years there has been a rise in the popularity of companies who create bespoke fireworks, incorporating the ashes of the deceased, to be set off at their memorial. A truly personal tribute to a loved one.
It is sadly quite common these days to see a bouquet of flowers at a roadside, symbolising a life lost. Some people, however, have created roadside tributes for loved ones that go over and above the traditional floral remembrance. Take Gary Nolan Etie from Austin, Texas. After his death in 2012, his classic coupe was left parked outside his former residence, with a photo of Gary and his biography attached to the window for passers-by to view. And for cyclists, a trend known as ‘ghost cycles’ has seen bicycles set up by the roadside for cyclists killed on the road. These ghost bikes also serve as a reminder to motorists to look out for bikes and other vehicles on the road.
Losing a partner or spouse can be like losing a part of yourself. Some people have gone to great lengths following the death of their spouse to create a memorial tribute fitting for their beloved and to demonstrate the enormous space left behind by their passing. Some of these tributes are truly touching.
Faizul Hassan Qadri of Uttar Pradesh, India, at 80 years old, began single-handedly building a smaller scale version of the Taj Mahal – which was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor as a memorial of his wife – to remember his own wife of nearly 60 years. Faizul described it as his ‘final act of love’ for his wife and planned to be buried beside her when he died.
Closer to home, Devonshire farmer Winston Howes carefully planted a six-acre meadow of 6,000 oak trees, leaving a perfect heart shape in the centre, to remember his wife following her death. Winston created the lasting memorial as a place where he could sit and reflect on their time together. Hidden from view by road, the meadow was spotted by a hot air balloonist when he happened to fly overhead.
Honouring a Visionary
Following the death of Steve Jobs in 2011, Apple remembered their founder with inventive tributes in Apple stores across the globe. In one store in Munich, Germany, staff created a temporary memorial to Jobs with over 4,000 post-it notes making up a huge depiction of the tech giant. The unusual yet effective tribute took six hours to complete.
From mini Taj Mahals to ‘ghost bicycles’, creative people across the globe have found inventive and interesting ways to remember their loved ones. These inspiring examples show that creating a unique and personal memorial for someone can take a wide variety of forms, each befitting the person loved. But most of all, these labours of love all have one thing in common – they show the ultimate legacy of the person remembered – one of being deeply loved and never forgotten.