When was the last time that you can remember truly being in pure awe? When was the last time that you felt yourself see the world beyond yourself and genuinely experience love, joy and excitement vicariously through someone else? Personally, for me, it was September 15th- 17th of this year. I had the honor and opportunity to travel to Spaceport America, New Mexico attend the 15th successful memorial space launch or “space burial” hosted by Celestis Memorial Spaceflights. I thought I knew and loved funeral service. However, this particular memorial service connected me with the families, friends and loved ones of those who were being commemorated in a way that I have never connected before.
As a funeral director, I have attended countless services and can say without a doubt that this truly was like nothing I have ever experienced. Complete strangers from around the world gathered together in one place for one reason sharing one very intimate connection: honoring the final wishes, passions or life work of someone that they loved who had passed away. This experience rekindled the intimacy and desire to celebrate the lives of those deceased entrusted into my care. It has reminded me of the impact that truly honoring the passions, personalities and even the idiosyncrasies of the deceased beyond what is considered traditionally and socially acceptable has on the loved ones who are celebrating their life.
Normally my journey with the family ends shortly after the funeral, memorial services and burial are complete. There is the occasional phone call or card in the mail but soon after I’ve worked with one the journey begins again with another family who is in need. I have often wondered what happens when a family leaves my care. How long will their grieving process will and whether or not they will continue to celebrate the life of their loved one beyond the funeral? What was unique about this experience and method of disposition: along with similar methods such as burial at sea, which can take place months or years after the death occurs, is that loved ones have already done the majority of their immediate grieving. In most cases, loved ones are more mentally and emotionally poised and in a place where they have accepted the loss and are ready to reinvest their energy into experiencing joy while “releasing” their loved one.
Being reminded that we all have the right to choose the way that we are remembered through our actions and deeds while on earth, but also in the way that we are celebrated upon our departure, was humbling. Seeing the symbolic portion of the cremated remains of those on board the rocket ship emphasized that tradition and societal rules should not limit our options but instead make room for our loved ones to honor our true essence. Whether it be through blasting us into space, releasing us in part or as a whole into the ocean, creating memorabilia or art through with our cremains or simply interring us into the ground, the importance of this connection between what is done with our remains and our loved one’s role in making it happen cannot be underestimated. This expression of love is not only healing but vitally necessary. Alternative funeral and burial options give us a method of doing just that.
Guest Post - Joe'l Anthony Joél Simone Anthony, also known as ‘The Grave Woman,’ is a licensed funeral director, embalmer, blogger, and YouTuber. She is dedicated to helping families prepare for the inevitable both financially and fundamentally while exploring various alternatives to traditional funeral service and burial options. She also has a passion for the exploration of worldwide funeral and burial cultural rituals and practices. To learn more about The Grave Woman and alternative funeral and burial options visit www.thegravewoman.com/blog. Also be sure to subscribe to her YouTube channel. Joél can also be contacted directly via email at email@example.com