Saying Goodbye the Alternative Way

Alternative funerals are unique to the deceased person and a tribute to the individual person rather than to a mass followed religion. Themed funerals, green and natural funerals, Gothic and Steampunk funerals, Rock ‘n’ Roll funerals, biker funerals and any other kinds of funerals which centre on the life of the person, and break with the traditional funeral are on the rise.

Front shot Eliie


– Ellie Farrell –

EllieFarrell

Ellie lives in Birmingham West Midlands, but travels all over the UK performing ceremonies. She has always been interested in wedding customs and worked within the weddings and celebrations industry long before she became a celebrant. Ellie sees ceremony as a rite of passage. One that should be memorable, fun, happy, poignant, reflective and personal. Ellie won ‘Celebrant of the Year’ from United Kingdom Society of Celebrants in 2014.

alternativeceremoniesuk.com


 

The subject of death used to be a taboo subject, avoided by most people. Talking about death was seen as morbid and caused awareness of our own demise; something most people don’t want to acknowledge. Funerals were events which just happened and families followed a traditional set of customs adhered to by each generation.

One of those funerals customs was the wearing of black clothing as a sign of mourning and respect for the deceased person. Funerals were sad and sombre occasions; steeped in religious hymns, Biblical readings and prayerful quotes. Times however have changed, and our changing society has given birth to a new style of funeral; the alternative funeral.

My name is Ellie Farrell and I am an alternative family and funeral Celebrant.  I specialise in writing and performing alternative funeral ceremonies, and was one of the nominees for Funeral Celebrant of the Year 2015 at the recent Good Funeral Awards.  I get called upon by families and by people who want to write and plan their own funeral, and the number of people doing this is increasing.

 

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Alternative funerals are unique to the deceased person and a tribute to the individual person rather than to a mass followed religion. Themed funerals, green and natural funerals, Gothic and Steampunk funerals, Rock ‘n’ Roll funerals, biker funerals and any other kinds of funerals which centre on the life of the person, and break with the traditional funeral are on the rise.

Black clothing is rare at alternative funerals as families opt for bright colours to enhance the theme of a celebration of life rather than a sombre goodbye. Even the word funeral is omitted in favour of the term ‘celebration of life’. The traditional black hearse is being ignored in favour of lorries, motorcycle sidecars, America classic cars, a New York style taxi or camper vans to name but a few.

Motorcycle and taxi hearse

Natural burials in designated woodland cemeteries are the preferred choice of funeral for many people. I regularly meet people who want this kind of funeral as it’s environmentally kinder than cremation or standard burial in already overcrowded city cemeteries. These funerals aren’t rushed and families can stay all day if they choose to. I have led green funerals where families have had picnics at the graveside with music playing and chose to help fill in the grave.

Woodlands burial pic 3

There’s no doubt that themed funerals have a fun element to them; the complete opposite to the traditional funeral where laughing or fun are frowned upon as being disrespectful. Fancy dress, Star Wars, Cosplay, Lord of the Rings and Viking funerals are colourful, loud, memorable and life centred. They celebrate the life of the deceased person via something important to them instead of through the conventional funeral ceremony.

Family and friends are choosing to decorate the coffin with messages, pictures and photographs. It’s a way of involving everybody especially children to say a personal goodbye. Traditional funerals treat the coffin as an untouchable entity which put a barrier between the deceased person and the mourners. Choosing to decorate the coffin containing a loved one encourages people to touch it and include it into the ceremony rather than just stare at it as an object.

coffin decorating

Funeral photography is now acceptable as families want the occasion documented for remembrance. A funeral is an event in our lives just as a birth or a marriage is, so why not document it? Funeral photography doesn’t capture mourners crying and looking sad; done in a journalistic way, it captures a human event and provides memories of more than sadness and grief.

Alternative funerals come in many designs and styles and celebrate the life of an individual person.  As our attitudes towards breaking free of traditional customs change, so does the way we say goodbye at a funeral.

For more information on alternative funerals, please contact ellie@alternativeceremoniesuk.com

All images are by www.robfarrellphotography.co.uk and are used with permission.

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