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Southern Girl Academy: Funerals

I am an event planner by profession, so there is a bit of concern that my “final event” won’t be flawless if it’s not pre-planned, and, well, that just won’t do.  I have attended “receiving of friends” and funeral services for as long as I can remember.  This is the respectful thing to do and your presence does make a difference.  Because I have been to so many of these events, over the last few years, I have made some notes of practices that are fitting of a proper Southern funeral. Unfortunately, I have also noticed some that simply are not acceptable.

I should note: I am a Christian. However, because I’m blessed with friends of all walks in life (and I would assume you are too), an alter call, regardless of how Baptist the guest of honor grew up, is not appropriate.

When given a choice, funerals should be in a church, not a funeral home.  Let’s face it they are not pleasant places. While funeral homes serve a purpose, attending a service in a church is less traumatizing than in a facility that exists exclusively to deal with the dead.

One of the things for which some funeral homes have become known is their variation in hearse color. This is a sad claim to fame.  Hearses should only come in black or gray.  A pastel colored hearse is the equivalent of wearing white after Labor Day. It just isn’t done.

However, color should be present in the floral arrangements sent as tokens of sympathy. While this can be a lovely gesture, mistakes are common in this area.  No one wants to keep a funeral arrangement forever. Artificial flowers or plants have no place at this event.  It’s like claiming bridesmaids will wear the dress again. They won’t. They’ll be stuck with a baby blue silk dress hanging in their closet next to the plastic peace lily someone sent to granny’s funeral.

Under no circumstances should flowers arrive on an easel, with a brightly colored sash that has some adjective written in glitter across it. Leave sashes where they belong… with beauty pageant queens.

Unfortunately, an “expression sash” isn’t the worst thing that can happen. You must guide your florist to simplicity, not, well, this…

broken heart

This would be more appropriate to send to someone you hate on Valentine's Day.

trucker flowers

Arrangement TItle: Keep on Trucking. I have no words.

monogram flowers

Perhaps the worst use of a monogram. Ever.

At open casket services, you will note the deceased is usually dressed in their Sunday best. Accessories should still be considered, but a good Southern girl would want her real pearls kept in the family, and wouldn’t want “the good stuff” buried. Also, steer clear of any makeup artist who shows a tendency toward Tammy Fay Baker. It’s just plain traumatizing to see the deceased in false eyelashes.

Following the burial is what I consider to be the most crucial part of the whole funeral production: THE AFTERPARTY.  If you’ve been to a service in the South, then you have also gone to someone’s home afterwards, gorged yourself on various casseroles, congealed salads, and desserts, as well as visited with folks you haven’t seen in ages.

This is an excuse to have a full-on party so you might as well go all out. Caterers should be hired, music and mood should be chipper, and most importantly there should be at least one open bar (with a great quantity of Makers Mark and Coke in my honor).

Although some might consider this topic morbid, I find it a way to ensure that your personal requests are honored even when you are no longer present. A good Southern girl leaves no detail unplanned for a party, especially her last one.

Katy Faulk is originally from east Tennessee, but currently resides in Little Rock.  As a true Southern girl should be, she is an expert thank you note writer and card sender, preferring handwritten documents to electronic ones, hence her lack of a personal blog or twitter account.  While she demands perfection for her “final event,” she is busy living an imperfect, but very blessed life.


2 Responses

  1. I cackled when I read about the open casket-Tammy Faye Baker rule. The most vivid memory I have of a funeral was when I saw my great-grandmother in her casket. *Her nails were painted!!!*

    She never painted her nails in life; she was a hard-working woman who didn’t really wear makeup. I ran to my daddy, who then talked to the funeral home manager. They took the paint off her nails. 😉

  2. I love this one….so true, so true!

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