In the Strange But True category, and more Hmm, that’s different… than Fun per se, here’s an option for being more involved and engaged in the funeral process than you might have every pondered: The Assisted Family Dress Experience!
This is when you go in the back with the funeral professional to help dress and cosmetize your loved one. Dress them in your chosen outfit, style their hair, put on the makeup, do their nails.
I don’t think she was the first to ever offer this, but it seems to have been largely promoted by Monica H. Torres, a funeral director and consultant in Phoenix.
Of course a funeral director will stay with you the whole time, since delicately handling a corpse is not something your average person would really do with any innate facility, right off the bat. They would tell you what to expect, guide you along the steps to take, explain whatever industry tools might need to be used (e.g. ‘mortuary pigments’ might be needed for cases of extreme jaundice), and generally oversee the process.
As I often say, it’s not for everyone! But by the same token, so many of us, especially women, have grown up—since we were little girls, watching our mothers put on their make up, do their hair, and take great care in preparing themselves for being out in the world. Being able to do that for them, for their last look, in a manner you know they would appreciate, really feels to me like a wonderful act of love. Their spirit may be gone, but gosh darn it, I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t feel like it was a bit of a bonding experience. And a cherished, or perhaps even hilarious, memory. With all due respect, it’s hard to imagine doing this without generating a few laughs.
As it should be.
I have no clue what your average funeral home’s opinion about this might be, but I urge you to ask about it if you feel inclined to try it out. There’s no law forbidding it, and your comfort, your participation, and your healing experience should be their paramount concern.
Your last great act for Grandma may be giving her the French Manicure she would never spring for.