Sometimes your vision is crystal clear, such as the disco-ball-in-the-mausoleum-lover from a few posts’ ago. But other times it can be totally unobvious (not actually a word), yet there is something… just a gnawing little something, where you know that the status quo,—or whatever is being offered, isn’t doin’ it for you. Like the proverbial triangular peg in a trapezoid hole. You could be screaming Noooo!!!! inside or you could just be slightly uneasy and squirmy, but either way: when you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime goodbye for someone (or yourself), heed that feeling.

A sad/wonderful story from about a high school senior who died while hiking honed in on this important concept. The student was an Ultimate Frisbee fanatic, and a vibrant, generous, and good-hearted soul. This is what happened for the Dad while trying to do what we all normally try to do:

While at a funeral home trying to prepare a service for Ezra, Kevin Kennedy said he suddenly realized that wasn’t what Ezra would have wanted.

“I couldn’t sit there another minute,” he said.

Instead, the Kennedys and the Ultimate Frisbee “family” have planned a celebration of Ezra’s life… Casual attire and frisbee gear and discs are encouraged.

He “couldn’t sit there another minute.” I couldn’t get that phrase out of my head.

We all know that feeling. When something’s missing the mark. And oftentimes it’s only our knowing… from the outside there is nothing amiss.

And this is the problem with generic, prescribed, traditional funeral customs. There is nothing inherently wrong with them—and they can look good, honorable, and respectful— but if the survivors feel empty, the funeral has failed.

Don't settle for funeral status quo

Please…always… when you’re making goodbye plans, don’t be on autopilot. Don’t just take what comes your way, what is packaged nice and presented to you as safe/expected/what everyone does and what might appear as “all that’s available.” Practically nothing is set in stone. When you feel yourself not grooving with any part of the status quo, call a Time Out and let something more personal start emerging.

You’ll know what’s ultimately best because you’ll feel a sense of relief, it will feel appropriate (even if it’s only in your world), and you might actually smile through your tears at the prospect.