Modern funerals ‘celebrate’ the deceased

Superhero themed funeral. Picture: Co-op Funeralcare/PA Wire
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Superhero themed funeral. Picture: Co-op Funeralcare/PA Wire .
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Forget head-to-toe black, hearses and sombre dirges. Modern funerals are more likely to see mourners dressed as superheroes and the deceased making their final journey in a pink cadillac to the soundtrack from their favourite TV show, according to a new report.

New research by the Co-op highlights a growing trend for personalised ceremonies where people choose to celebrate life rather than lamenting death.

The Co-op, which arranges around 100,000 funerals a year, found events are increasingly being tailored to reflect the interests and achievements of the person being who has died.

Popular themes include Halloween and superheroes.

The study revealed most adults believe funerals are now a celebration, with many preferring to have a party afterwards rather than a wake.

Recent unusual memorials have included a funeral director dressed as Darth Vader in a Halloween-themed event.

Elsewhere, mourners have posed as Superman, Buzz Lightyear and Captain America or dressed in leopard-print.

There has even been a ceremony based on the TV series Only Fools and Horses, with a yellow Robin Reliant filling in as a three-wheeled hearse.

Even Scots, who studies have shown are more likely to opt for a traditional send-off, are embracing the trend.

The family of 20-year-old Thai boxer Jordan Coe, who died while training for a bout, asked friends to don “glam gear or gym kits”, while mourners at services for murdered teenager Paige Doherty in Clydebank and hit-and-run victim Private Shaun Cole in Edinburgh were invited to wear bright colours.

Meanwhile, the parents of seven-year-old Kieran McQuillan, who was killed by a van in Moray last month, appealed on social media for blue Subaru Imprezas – their son’s favourite car – to take part in the cortege.

The Co-op’s team in Ayr recently arranged a funeral for a man known as ‘Wee James’, who had Down Syndrome.

It highlighted the things he had loved in his life, with a cowboy theme and a police escort to lead the hearse.

“We are increasingly seeing this trend of personalisation within funerals, to reflect the passions and interests that our loved ones had while they were alive, rather than being a strictly sombre occasion,” said David Collingwood, head of funeral operations at the Co-op.

“If a request is possible to do, our funeral directors and arrangers will do their utmost to make it happen.”

The ashes of writer Hunter S Thompson were blown into the sky from a cannon, while the funeral of British actress Lynda Bellingham was planned as an “all-singing, all-dancing knees-up”.