Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't Bury me in a Suit!

When we picture a funeral in our mind, or see one portrayed in a movie, its usually a pretty formal affair. The men are all in dark suits and the ladies are in long black dresses. For better or worse, the reality is often very different. At many funerals and especially visitations, very casual clothing has become the norm, and that's why I am often surprised when families mention so sheepishly that they would rather dad not wear a suit in his casket.
Personally, I think this situation is completely backwards from the way it should be. When we attend the funeral services for someone else, it's about them, and we should dress respectfully. We don't need to necessarily go out and buy something new, but if we own something nice, we should by all means go to the trouble of wearing it to the funeral and visitation.

When we are at our own funeral, it's about us, and if we never liked to be in anything but our bib overalls, that's what we should be buried in. There are some people who would never want to be caught dead in a suit. If they are alive, they can dress up out of respect for the occasion, but when they die, don't let them be caught dead in that suit.

I've buried people in their bib overalls, jeans, military and athletic uniforms (they often don't fit like they did 40 years ago), cowboy duds, Norwegian sweaters, black leather and pajamas. They looked great, and I believe that burying some of them in a suit would have been a crime.
When I die, though, please bury me in a nice suit. Fold the handkerchief in my breast pocket just right, and make sure my tie has a nice dimple in the middle.
(originally posted 12/19/08)
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Funeral service faces a crisis of relevance, and I am passionate about keeping the best traditions of service alive while adapting to the changing needs of families. Feel free to contact me with questions, or to share your thoughts on funeral service, ritual, and memorialization.