Everyone hopes that their funeral will go to plan, but sometimes that just isn’t the case. Take Andrew Jackson, for instance. The seventh president of the United States, Jackson was known for his cutthroat politics and nasty language. His vulgarity had an impact on his parrot, Poll, who was such a close companion of Jackson’s that he asked the parrot to attend his funeral in 1845. Unfortunately, the parrot swore so much throughout the ceremony that he had to be removed. One mourner, Rev William Norment, said the parrot had been incited by the loud sobs of Jackson’s slaves and “let loose perfect gusts of cuss words”, shocking the congregation and disrupting the service.
Other last wishes leave the final mourners without their heads. The conqueror Genghis Khan, who massacred entire peoples to create the largest empire history has ever seen, asked for his final resting place to remain a secret. After his death in China in 1227, his funeral escort returned his body to his Mongolian homeland, allegedly killing anyone they met along the way so that his burial place would remain hidden. Once the construction of his tomb was finished, the slaves who built it were also murdered, and then the soldiers who killed the slaves were massacred as well. Legend even states that a river was changed course to cover his tomb and make it impossible to find. To this day the exact whereabouts of Genghis Khan’s grave remain unknown.
While few mourners would massacre dozens of people for their beloved departed, sometimes their devotion leads them to remember their loved one in an equally bizarre fashion – by ingesting them. In his track “Black Jesus”, rapper Tupac Shakur sang, “Cremated, last wishes… smoke my ashes”. His group Outlawz took him seriously. After Tupac was murdered in 1996, the group held a memorial service after his cremation in which they mixed his ashed with marijuana and smoked them.
Keith Richards remembered his father in a similar fashion. The singer and songwriter for the Rolling Stones described his father’s memorial after attempting to scatter his father’s cremated ashes. “A fine spray of his ashes blew out on to the table”, Richards writes in his autobiography. “I couldn’t just brush him off so I wiped my finger over it and snorted the residue.”
“Not with a bang, but a whimper”: some people refuse to let their own end go as quietly as in T.S. Eliot’s famous line. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, as well as the show’s first series actor James Doohan, who portrayed Scotty, both had their ashes fired into space after their deaths. The wife of writer Hunter S Thompson chose an even more spectacular finish – by having her husband’s ashes explode into the sky inside a firework display.
Other mourners would prefer to not lose their beloved at all. Embalming was famously employed by the former Soviet Union to preserve and display the bodies of Lenin and Stalin, allowing thousands of mourners to visit their corpses for years after their deaths.
Embalming continues today, and is even becoming commonplace in Latin America. In Puerto Rico, the family of murdered motorcycle enthusiast David Morales Colon chose to not only embalm his remains, but to stand him up on his Honda motorbike so that they could pose for pictures with his body. Similarly, Puerto Rican boxer Christopher Rivera Amaro was embalmed and posed in the corner of a boxing ring so that family and fans could see and photograph him one last time.
Although some may find these final rituals to be a bit extreme, every client should have the ability to create a personalized service that communicates the values and the wishes of their loved one. Whatever might be desired, here at Sussex Funeral Services we will ensure that you have the funeral or remembrance service that you want. Although it should be noted, that we don’t as a practice promote embalming oursleves.