Yesterday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie West Allen, the creator of Create a Great Funeral Day. We had a wide-ranging conversation on how she started the funeral planning “holiday” in 2000, the benefits of discussing one’s wishes, such as becoming aware of one’s legacy, and “good” funerals versus “bad” funerals.
A full-fledged article will come soon. She has some very insightful views on the importance of talking about our values and the value of having some sort of “good goodbye” ritual, even if the person who’s dying says he or she doesn’t want a funeral.
She spoke about the idea of a “facelift funeral.” This harkens back to Dr. Maxwell Maltz and his book, Psycho-Cybernetics, which was first published in 1960 and went on to become a big best-seller.
Dr. Maltz was a plastic surgeon who noticed that the patients who came to him for a new face were actually seeking to change their personalities. While patients had their exterior features changed, often they still had emotional issues that plastic surgery could not address. He discovered Cybernetics as a key for changing self-image from within. He found that self-image is the key to human personality and behavior.
A facelift funeral goes through the motions but does not address our emotional need to mourn the loss of someone we love. Facelift funerals are not emotionally fulfilling for the participants. These events might have a “rent-a-minister” who didn’t know the deceased and might only speak of that religion’s views of heaven, hell, the afterlife, or other theological musings.