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Old 01-10-2013, 01:50 PM
Location: Colorado
9,734 posts, read 6,269,187 times
Reputation: 17549


Early in 2012 I lost my dearest relative, my Great Aunt Jeanette.

She developed a rapidly progressive dementia that first destroyed her mind and personality and then killed her. I was the only family to visit once she was placed in a home. I was the one with the right in her will to go through her home and take anything I wanted. I didn't choose for monetary value, but sentimental. And the morning I got the news that she had died, I was overwhelmed with the sensation that she was happy and free. The sun seemed to shine especially bright that day. Since she had that dementia, she had already been "gone" for months...and that was torture to know that this brilliant and independent woman was living in a home, her dignity destroyed by this disease.

I used that day to quietly celebrate her life. I looked through photo albums, pictures of her young and old and travelling and at home. I thought about the times we shared and her place in my heart, and I wasn't sad. Even though I felt like I should have been.

I also recently read an article about a New Orleans Jazz musician who had his body embalmed to be standing upright against a mockup of a light post on a street corner, looking much as he did when alive. And they had a huge party instead of a dreary funeral for this man. It uplifted my spirits, and now I want to think of a way to express my final wishes in writing that when I die, my loved ones should celebrate my life instead of mourning its passing.

Does this make sense or is it crazy talk? Thoughts?
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:43 PM
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Celebration of Life is becoming the norm nowadays. More and more people are saying goodbye to the funeral homes and embracing the person's life by celebration and cheer.

We particpated in a friend's "Celebration of Life". It was held at the home he once lived and everyone spoke of their own special memory they had of him. His daughter had half a dozen of white doves in cages and released them, we watched them circle above us. Two large pontoon boats full of family and friends went out onto the middle of lake, everyone had a glass of champagne and his ashes were released into the lake and once his ashes hit bottom, a rose floated onto the water and we all toasted and cheered.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:53 PM
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What a lovely way to remember her. Your writing gave me tears.....what a wonderful and kind soul you have!
Yes, of course what you felt was normal. Joy that Aunt Jeanette was released from the imprisonment of dementia.
Sometimes I can't remember jack and I attribute it to stress and lack of interest. The feeling of helplessness when I can't remember something is terrible.
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:16 PM
15,824 posts, read 18,440,406 times
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You described beautifully how you felt about and for your Aunt on her passing. About losing a wonderful, and obviously influential family member... and For her, because you felt her spirit was now free of the dementia and sadness of her last months. I think you've done a great job in describing why we celebrate a person's life, and in so doing...honor their memory and the life they stood for. You've done your Aunt Jeannette proud. And, you have probably helped a few other people to understand their own feelings. Good for you for being such a special person. Sharing your story is important. Blessings...

Last edited by JanND; 01-10-2013 at 10:17 PM.. Reason: edit text
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:22 AM
Location: 900 miles from my home in 80814
4,669 posts, read 6,739,165 times
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Sonic, what you did was beautiful, loving and respectful. That's how our passing should be acknowledged, but it's hard for many people to celebrate a loved one's passing, especially if they were young, or it was unexpected.

When my husband died, very unexpectedly, I knew he didn't want a service (he specifically said that in his will), just to have his ashes scattered, 1/2 on our hill facing Pikes Peak, and 1/2 in the channel between Maui and the Big Island. (Neither of those has happened, yet.) But, when news spread in our small town that he had passed, everyone asked when his funeral would be, so I buckled, and had a service despite his wishes. My kids planned it, and it was rather subdued and solemn, exactly what he would have hated. That's my one regret, that I wasn't strong enough to follow his wishes, so I could have done something beautiful like you did with your Aunt Jeanette.
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:40 AM
Location: In a bubble bath with a beer!
462 posts, read 857,012 times
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You are not crazy! You're sane as can be!

Every single person that loves me knows that when I die, I do not want some solemn event ... I do not want anyone to look at me dead and say how great I look.

I want any part of me that can be donated to help someone else live, to be donated! And then, I want them to use whatever money to throw the biggest and best party to celebrate ... Not just my life, but their life!

Celebrate away!

HUGz! Jules
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:58 AM
Location: SWFL
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Nope, not crazy at all, just a beautiful and sincere way to celebrate Aunt Jeanette's life and passing. (((HUGS)))
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:59 AM
13,773 posts, read 32,995,672 times
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My DH wanted a 'Celebration of Life' when he a passed. I had it at our house and the kids went through many many pictures and made several posters with pictures of him. There were tears but there was a laughter remembering him.

I think it is a wonderful way for those that may only know you say from work, to know the personal side of you too.
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Old 01-11-2013, 08:01 AM
Location: New York State, USA
142 posts, read 202,849 times
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This is the most beautiful way to handle the passing of a loved one!

You have given Aunt Jeanette a wonderful gift: a blessing, a deeply caring and moving recolection of her life! No, you are not crazy!

As I am coming outof deep grief, I can look back at the past few years, during which many closed loved ones have passed on, relatives and close friends. There were Catholic Masses, funeral parlor somber prayers, Jewish graveside ceremonies (which I had never before experienced), memorial services, and receptions in celebrations of life.

All of these have their place.

In looking back also to the passing of loved ones and friends who are gone for many years, I've decided to make public memorials online. I'm asking mutual friends to contribute photos, family has long passed, so we are trying to locate someone in the family who can either give legal permission, or contribute as well. In both cases, these two friends were local and national public figures in a specific area, not at all nationally well-known. Still, there is a fair amount of online publicity as well, but no one has come up with an online memorial. So I am in the process of celebrating their lives in this way.

Your aunt is no doubt smiling right now!
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Old 01-11-2013, 10:26 AM
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I lost my Mom a few weeks ago and she suffered from dementia. I already cried tears for her loss and our loss from her dementia. Her death released her from what must have been a mental and emotional prison.

My Mom is now with my Dad, and that should be rejoiced. We are putting together a Celebration and I am truly looking forward to it, with pure joy in our hearts. I can guarantee there will be many wonderful stories and photos shared.
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