Now that I’ve been blogging for over a year, I’ve begun to hear from some readers overseas. So when I recently received an e-mail from a British copywriter named Dean Ronnie, I was intrigued.
Among other clients, Dean works for a funeral director (Laurel Funerals) in the U.K. He asked if I’d like to share an article he’d written about unique funerals. Because I truly enjoy sharing the writing of others, I gave an almost immediate yes. Here it is.
The times are changing and with changing times come changing traditions. One place this is becoming more and more apparent is in tributes to dead. The past has shown us some very spectacular ways of honoring and remembering the dead.
From China’s Terracotta Army to the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and the Taj Mahal in India, people have always found spectacular ways to honor those who have passed on.
Today, this hasn’t changed. Memorials and funeral planning are still about being personal to the deceased. Let’s take a look at some of the more unusual ways that the deceased have been honored.
The Guitar-Shaped Forest
After the love of Pedro Ureta’s life, Graciela, unexpectedly died in 1977 at the age of 25, the Argentine rancher decided to plant trees in her honor. But not just any trees. Ureta decided to create an entire guitar-shaped forest on his farmland.
Cultivated because of her love for the instrument, Pedro Ureta worked tirelessly to plant the forest, crafting the perfect guitar shape complete with a star-shaped hole in the middle. Using cypress trees to form the outline, Ureta used blue eucalyptus trees to accent the trees and make his dedication to his deceased wife visible to all who fly over it.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, Ureta has never seen the guitar from the sky himself. He’s afraid of flying.
Launching Gene Roddenberry’s Ashes into Outer Space
As the creator of the highly successful and internationally recognized television and film franchise Star Trek, what better way would there be to honor Gene Roddenberry than to send his ashes into outer space? The answer is no other way.
After being sent on a flight on the Space Shuttle Columbia mission STS-52 in 1992 and an unsuccessful previous attempt to have them sent into space permanently in 1997, the ashes of Gene Roddenberry and his wife Majel (who died in 2008) are set to be launched into space in 2014. A fitting tribute to an advocate of space exploration.
Jim Henson’s Muppet Memorial Service
Following the death of the Muppet’s creator Jim Henson in 1990, two incredibly distinct memorial services were held. Held in London and New York, both events were open to the public. Both services were held in famous cathedrals, both services were attended by no one wearing black, and both services featured a solo by Sesame Street character, Big Bird.
Following this was a gathered team of Muppets including Elmo, Gonzo, Scooter, Mokey Fraggle, Gobo Fraggle and Oscar the Grouch, who sang a medley of Henson’s favorite songs before ending with “Just One Person”.
Firing Hunter S. Thompson’s Ashes From a Cannon
In 2005, the father of gonzo journalism Hunter S. Thompson received a memorial that was equally fitting of his lifestyle, a memorial that saw his ashes fired from a cannon into the night’s sky.
The memorial which took place in Aspen, Colorado, saw Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes fired from a 150-foot tower, which was topped with a red fist with two thumbs — the symbol of Thompson’s first-person style of gonzo journalism. The tower was paid for by Johnny Depp, who played Thompson in the film adaptation of his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Following fireworks, friends at the memorial were then encouraged to remember him with the clink of ice in whiskey.