How New Orleans Put the Jazz into Funerals

Jazz is an integral part of the New Orleans culture, even after life.

From the 28th April to the 7th May New Orleans will be hosting their annual Jazz Festival which will see top musicians come together to celebrate the dynamic Louisiana music. It’s a tradition that has long since been going for over 35 years. Jazz has been a huge part of New Orleans culture after being integrated into society by African slaves. Whilst the music is a happy and cherished pastime, Jazz in Louisiana has also been integrated into funeral progressions.

The upbeat tones were used to guide souls to heaven and celebrate their ‘final release from the bounds of Earthly life.’ This, in part related to the harsh and cruel lifestyle of slaves. Even until today Jazz Funerals have continued on and New Orleans has become known for their musical input into life and death.

Jazzing up a funeral

As mentioned the Jazz Funeral was incorporated as a way to celebrate a life once led and the escape of slavery. Thankfully times have a changed and slavery has primarily been wiped out, meaning jazz funerals are all about celebrating life through music, singing and dancing.

The style of funeral begins at the deceased home with musicians playing sombre tones. Together both musicians and loved ones follow the hearse to the church or final place of rest, all the while playing sorrowful music. Once the service is over and the deceased is laid to rest the celebrations begin. The music goes from sombre to jubilant as they make their way to the reception. Both family and friends lead a parade with onlookers welcome to join in as they celebrate a life well lived.

The dynamic and buoyant sounds of the saxophone, trumpets, tambourines and singing fill the streets and the jubilant tunes echo through the night as they salute a life happily lived life.

Such affairs have been highly popular since the 20th century and continue to be in high demand. The process of jubilantly celebrating their loved ones life and their journey to a new world have become a symbolic funeral tradition. It is a tradition that has been firmly woven into the Louisiana culture and one that has lasted over a century.

Highest of honours

Jazz Funerals have been a part of Louisiana lives for years but one of the most memorable ceremonies was held back in 2006 following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Hurricane Katrina is one of the most destructive and costliest hurricanes that has ever hit America with New Orleans being one of the most affected areas. Louisiana, in particular, sustained a vicious attack that killed over 1,700 people, the majority of which were senior citizens. The severity of the disaster wasn’t one that was expected to result in a catastrophic aftermath.

To commemorate the first anniversary Louisiana Mayor, Ray Nagain and Lt Gen. Russel Honorè organised a Jazz Funeral in honour of the 1,700 citizens that died. Together they led the Parade through the streets with the Louisiana community following and playing tribute to friends and family members that died.

Jazz music is a huge part of life that is used to bring happiness even at the worst times. These traditions have led to New Orleans being dubbed as the birthplace of Jazz.

Bringing New Orleans to The UK

Due to the paramount growth in popularity, the New Orleans Jazz Funeral tradition has seemingly travelled over the pond.

London based band ‘The Mississippi Swamp Dogs Jazz Band’ are bringing the lively and exuberant New Orleans Jazz culture to Britain. They hold similar principles to New Orleans of mourning and celebration. They give a sombre sendoff right up until the end of the ceremony and after that, the celebration begins. Once again cherishing a life well lived.

Given it’s a British take on a New Orleans tradition the band plays jazzed up songs such as When The Saints Go Marching In, Didn’t He Ramble and After You’ve Gone.

First beginning as a hobby The Mississippi Swamp Dogs Jazz Band turned their passion into a highly regarded service according to their customers. The celebration of life is now outweighing mourning in British society with jubilant celebrations becoming more popular. The Mississippi Swamp Dogs Jazz Band are paving their way through the funeral industry as sombre traditions become more and more extinct.

As the traditions go marching on

With the multitude of faiths, cultures, and values evolving in British society the traditional funeral etiquette is changing with the sombre affair being ditched. The idea of celebrating life even in death has started to become the mindset. Over 60% of Brits would opt for a celebration of life in place of a traditional funeral.

Decade-year-old traditions are becoming more and more extinct with Brits favouring personalised, unique and cheery funerals. Much of which is deriving from other faiths and cultures who have their own funeral traditions and ideologies which have influenced British opinions.

A report by Damsons Future Planning found that one in five people would decide against a black hearse and only 7% of people would want their loved ones to dress in black. Whilst over 9% of Brits would encourage loved ones to host an after party.

The idea of celebration instead of mourning seems to be the consensus which in part is down to the climb in social status and lifestyles. Life is more comfortably and past luxuries such as TVs, cars, housing etc. have become readily available for the working class. Such factors have led to happier and well-lived lives that are worth celebrating.

Despite cremation being the most popular funeral option with 74% of Brits preferring to be cremated, other types of funerals are rising in popularity. The report by Damsons found that woodland burials have increased by 9% while sea and home burials have increased by 3%. As more alternatives come to light the sombre funeral declines in popularity.

Planning your celebratory goodbye

With celebrations high and a rising preference conveying your wishes to your loved ones is essential especially if you want to incorporate the New Orleans way of life.

To ensure such a feat, the creation of a will is key to stipulating your wishes. To further ensure that a Jazz Band will be incorporated into your funeral you could invest in a funeral plan. With an affordable payment plan that fits within your budget and is paid within a set number of years, you can guarantee a funeral that reflects your life.

With the ability to design your own funeral and also pay for your funeral in advance. Given the rising costs of funerals, it may also be a wise investment for the future. In the last decade, funeral prices have risen by 80% according to research by Bath University. Whilst cost is a huge factor to consider the arrangements of your final affair are equally on par.

Given that it’s the final event that you will attend, a Funeral Plan enables you to design a farewell that truly celebrates your life in an interesting and lively manner. Within minutes you can plan a funeral that leaves a lasting legacy and imprint on your loved ones.

With a Funeral Plan, you can decide how much Jazz and finesse as you desire.

How jazz influenced celebratory funerals

In the midst of sadness, New Orleans, the ‘birthplace’ of Jazz brought about the celebration of life rather than the mourning of the deceased.

Through music, the Louisiana folk have managed to create a funeral that is both memorable and a joyous occasion that loved ones can cherish. It enables them to find solace in a time of heartache.

The Jazz Funeral has become a reputable service that many hold for their loved ones and has even travelled to the UK. Starting with a slow and respectful to a buoyant parade a person can have the farewell they deserve.

While the New Orleans Jazz Festival taking place from Friday 28th April to Sunday 7th April isn’t funeral focused, it does celebrate Jazz. A form of music that is integrated into may people’s lives and their deaths alike.

Myth Busting: 9 Funeral Plan Myths That Could Prevent You From Saving Heaps Of Cash!

Funeral plans are encased in negativity but how many of your concerns are actually true? These 9 myths could be preventing you from saving heaps of money.

Funeral plans haven’t always been acquainted with the most positive of opinions, a common mistake which has been fuelled by not so accurate comments typically known as myths. This negative stigma has left many unwilling to invest in a funeral plans and in their future.

What is often overlooked are the facts. Funeral prices are soaring, the death discussion is often neglected and your wishes aren’t always clear. A funeral plan gives you the chance to plan a funeral that reflects your wishes.

Funeral Plans Are Expensive

Funeral plans are widely regarded as expensive outlays that give very little in return, this however is a huge misconception. Research undertaken by Bath University found that in the last decade funeral prices have soared by a whopping 80%.

Currently the average cost of a funeral is £3,700, a figure that doesn’t incur flowers, obituaries, car hire and extra tributes. A figure that is also expected to rise to a staggering £7,500 by 2020, according to Bath University.

A funeral plan on the other hand can cover all these aspects and cost as little as 93p per day. It’s a plan that works within your budget and takes care of important future plans. The majority of plans also work on a fixed rate basis, meaning your monthly payments won’t increase even if funeral costs rise.

Given the insane rise in prices, investing into a funeral plan ensures you and you’re loved ones covered for the future. It minimises you’re costs and enables you to design a funeral that best depicts your personality.

You Pay In More Than What You Get Out

It’s a common myth that funeral plans ultimately end up costing you more than an actual funeral. The truth is companies once sold fixed term contracts that tied a person into a monthly payment plan until the day they died. In which case a person would pay considerably more than their funeral costs.

Fixed term contracts raised many concerns that have left people wary of signing up to funeral plans in fear they will be ripped-off. It’s essential to understand what your plan covers, the price each month and how long you will be paying that fee for.

Plans are designed to be paid over a set amount of years with a consistent monthly fee that works within your budget. Once paid the plan is stored away and your funeral is fully paid for and in place for when the time comes. And if you wish to make any amendments you can revisit your plan and make adjustments for a small fee.

Attention: You Aren’t Tied In For Life!

People often avoid funeral plans as they assume they will be tied in for life. You’ll be happy to know that’s not true, there is a get out of funeral plan get out of jail card. You can easily cancel a funeral plan and get the majority of your money refunded. Cancelling a funeral plan means you are charged a small fee that is a fair percentage of what you paid in. While this seems preposterous, cancellation fees aren’t unheard of, if you cancel a holiday, flights or a restaurant booking then you get charged.

Of course if this is in the first few weeks companies offer a cooling off period in which a person has a set amount of time to cancel a plan without any costs. Ultimately this means you’re not tied into a plan, you can leave if you so desire.

This Isn’t What I Wanted…

One of the biggest misconceptions is the ‘hidden’ costs that come with funeral plans. However extra costs usually arise from added services that weren’t included with the plan your loved one chose.

When signing up to a plan it’s essential that you and you loved ones understand what services will be covered. Naturally basic plans cover the essential items but costs considerably less each month. Typically floral tributes, limousine hire, room hire, obituary notice and doctors fees aren’t included. Whereas a premium package will cover considerably more services for a higher fee.

Extra services can be added but these need to be paid for, which built up the stigma that funeral plans have hidden costs. In reality funeral plans haven’t been fully disclosed with loved ones. To avoid unexpected costs that could leave loved ones shocked and confused each party should be fully aware of what the plan actually covers. With that information people can factor in any added costs and services they need for the funeral.

“I’m Financially Secure”

The chances are you have savings, a steady job and you are financially secure but there is no sure way to know you will be in the future. Sadly life isn’t always predictable. It’s surprising how life’s curve-balls can impact on your finances and your future.

A funeral plan is very much an investment. It ensures that you’re covered and that your family won’t be left inundated with funeral costs. Given that funeral costs are soaring a funeral plan seems a smart investment for the future. A fixed rate plan keeps costs low and as you’re not tied into a plan you have the option to cancel it if you desire. This gives you options and ones that could be fruitful in the future.

Funeral Flops

Like anything in life there has been a negative response to funeral plans. Much of which comes from choosing the ‘wrong’ provider. Researching the company and analysing customers views is essential when it comes to investing into a funeral plan.

Naturally larger companies are more reputable given their success within the market. While true, their large customer base means one-to-one customer service is limited. It’s worth researching into smaller companies with lesser clients. They are more likely to build relationships and have less chance of overlooking your specific requests.

Funerals Never Represent The Person

Buying into a funeral plan may seem like you are investing in a strict and structured funeral and one that doesn’t reflect your vibrant personality. This however isn’t the case, the funeral plan gives you the option to add any personal touches you desire.

The entire plan is worked around you, your requests and your preferences. Whether you want a environmental, non-religious or futuristic funeral, the plan can incorporate that. The choice is all yours, it’s your funeral and it’s your plan.

“I Don’t Need A Funeral Plan”

There are a lot of people who simply don’t believe in investing in a funeral plan. Mainly because they don’t believe they need one.

A funeral plan isn’t a death document it’s a life investment that protects your loved ones and adheres to your wishes. It simply means you are prepared for the very distant future. As funeral costs rise it’s wise to invest into a funeral plan. A small monthly payment for a set number of years sets you up for life.

“My Family Knows What I Want”

The death talk is one that is often neglected. It’s no secret that death is depressing but your loved ones aren’t mind readers. Sitting down and discussing your wishes makes everything much easier when the time comes.

The Damsons Annual Report found that 7% of Brits don’t want a hearse or loved ones to wear black. Whilst one quarter of Brits would like their loved ones to go out drinking and dancing. Having a document that clearly outlines your wishes makes everything clearly to your loved ones. It provides comfort to your loved ones during a difficult time.

The Myth Busted

Over the years prepaid funeral plans have been given a bad rep, primarily due to false information. Quite often the plans haven’t been fully explained or researched. While they are genuine factors that do need to be considered it’s also important that you invest in your future. Not only does it save you money it gives your loved ones the time to grieve without stressing out over funeral planning.

Funeral plans can ease your worries, reduce your costs and protect your family.

12 Outrageous Will Requests

As we grow older we are constantly reminded to make a Will so our last requests can be adhered to and our final wishes laid to rest. Here are some of the most ridiculous Will requests ever made.

People often forget the importance of creating a Will, in making their final wishes known to their families and friends. Whether this means leaving meaningful trinkets to loved ones or making special requests that honour your memory. No matter how unique of a demand, a Will ensures that at the very least your family is aware of your preferences.

Teaming up with Damsons Future Planning we unearthed 12 peculiar requests that have been made and the strange items that have been bequeathed to loved ones.

1. Life After Death

Famous Escape Artist Harry Houdini
Famous Escape Artist Harry Houdini
 

Harry Houdini

Famous illusionist and escape artist Harry Houdini left an unusual request for his wife Bess after becoming very interested in the paranormal world. Upon his death in 1926 Harry requested that Bess conduct a séance every year on the anniversary of his death. He even left her a secret ten digit code so she would know she was in contact with the right spirit.

Bess never let on if she ever made contact, let’s hope it wasn’t due to her losing the code…

2. A Bitter Goodbye

German Poet Heinrich Heine
German Poet Heinrich Heine

Heinrich Heine

German poet, Heinrich Heine left all of his money to his wife with one condition that she remarry. A touching request? Nope he demanded that stating: “At least one man will regret my death.”

Apparently Heinrich married his mistress who was an uneducated shop girl and they had a very volatile marriage. So much so that he resented her right up until his untimely death.

3. A Deathly Birthday

Robert Louis Stevenson With The Last King Of Hawaii, David Kalakaua
Robert Louis Stevenson Pictured With The Last King Of Hawaii, David Kalakaua
 

Robert Louis Stevenson

The Treasure Island author, Robert Stevenson left a peculiar ‘gift’ to his close friend Annie H. Ide upon his death in 1894.

Annie once complained of the annoyance of having her birthday on Christmas day with that in mind Robert left her his birthday. The 13th November was given to her so she could celebrate both Christmas and her birthday on separate days.

A strange yet touching request which gave Annie the birthday she’d always wanted. Then again Robert was a creative and peculiar man which was reflected in the timeless classics that he wrote.

4. Ashes in Writing

Mark Gruenwald Was A Famous Marvel Comic Book Creator
Mark Gruenwald Dedicated His Life To Creating Beloved Comic Book Characters

Mark Gruenwald

Marvel comic book writer and creator of Iron Man Mark Gruenwald requested his ashes be used in a gross manner. He had them mixed in with ink which was then used to product the first copy of Squadron Supreme.

This gruesome request was adhered to, one of the books sold on eBay for little over $600 in 2011. It’s not a huge sum but how many people really want a book containing part of a dead man?

5. You’ll Be Waiting A Long Time…

The Trickster Box That Left Many Disappointed
Francis Douce Ensured He Had The Final Laugh After His Employer Annoyed Him

Francis Douce

Francis Douce spent his life collecting books, manuscripts, coins and artefacts. Upon his death he left the majority of his possessions to the Bodleian Library in Oxford except for a single box which he donated to the British Museum. The British Museum was under strict instructions not to open the box until the 1900s which sparked much excitement and curiosity.

When the year came around many gathered in anticipation to see the box opened, only to be deeply disappointed after finding old newspaper clippings.

In his youth Francis had worked in the museum and hated it so much that he left them a pointless and disappointing gift similar to his feelings when he worked there.

What a cruel and slightly humorous joke to play on those who had waited years to see the magnificent contents that turned out to be scraps of paper.

6. One Radiant Gift

Marie Curie Pictured With Her Husband Pierre Curie
Marie Curie Pictured With Her Husband Pierre Curie

Marie Curie

Famous research scientist, Marie Curie left a selfless gift to the University of Paris when she donated the only valuable possession she had. During her life the Women of America presented her with a gram of pure radium which Marie felt could be an asset to the University of Paris.

Her only request was that her daughter had full access to the radium in case she needed it. Given that Irene was also a scientist the radium was probably useful at some point.

7. A Request Like No Other

Sanborn Had His Skin Used For Drums Which He Left For His Friend...
Sandborn Had His Skin Used To Create A Set Of Drums Which He Left To His Friend…

Solomon Sanborn

American hat maker, Solomon Sanborn had a rather gruesome request for his remains. Firstly his body was to be donated to science but once they were ‘finished’ with it he had specific requests on how to dispose of him.

Firstly his everything other that his skin was to be used as fertiliser of Elm trees in America. His skin was to be used to create a set of drums which were later bequeathed to a close friend.

Sadly that’s not the end of the request, he wanted his friend to play Yankee Doodle each year at the Bunker Hill in commemoration of the Revolutionary war.

That must have been some good friend…

8. Love Makes Us Do Funny Things

Jack Benny With His Wife Mary & Daughter Joan
Jack Benny With His Wife Mary & Daughter Joan

Jack Benny

Unlike most of these requests, American comedian Jack Benny made a lasting and sweet arrangement before he died for his loving wife, Mary Benny. He arranged for a single red rose to be delivered to her each day until her death.

For the next ten years Mary received over 3,000 roses before her death. That is a lot of roses, her home would never have been short of flowers that’s for sure.

9. It’s A Cat World

Famous Singer Dusty Springfield
Pop Singer Dusty Springfield

Dusty Springfield

Pop singer, Dusty Springfield was not only dedicated to her music but to her love of animals, in particular her cat Nicolas.

When she died Dusty made sure that Nicolas was well taken care of and was to be fed only the best baby food and to be serenaded by her own music each night. Further Nicholas was to be re-homed with a guardian with another cat so they could be married.

It was a peculiar request but one that expressed her deepest love, Nicolas was a very privileged cat who lived the rest of his days in an outlandish style.

10. No Bed Bugs Here

Famous Playwright William Shakespeare
Famous Playwright William Shakespeare

 

William Shakespeare

One of the most famous and renowned playwrights of all time, William Shakespeare would certainly make the list for leaving something strange in his Will.

To his beloved wife Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare left his second best bed. Strangely enough, leaving the bed isn’t as peculiar as what would seem. Back then it was a relatively normal item to leave behind. A high quality and bed bug free bed was somewhat of a luxtury and hard to come by, in fact bequeathing a bed to someone is regard as a highly thoughtful gift.

The peculiar aspect is that Shakespeare only left the love of his life the second best bed. Why didn’t he leave her the best bed, the one they shared?

Alas it was too late for his wife, Anne Hathaway to ask her husband. Although I’m sure it would have been an awkward conversation…

11. A Hair Raising Request

French Political Leader Napoleon Bonaparte
Political French Leader Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte who was a French political leader during the French Revolution made a hair raising request upon his death in 1821.

Before he was laid to rest, Napoleon demanded his head was shaved and his hair was given to different members of his family. Although strange back then hair of the deceased was often woven into jewellery. This was a lasting token of their loved one.

What would you do if you were given a lock of hair by a deceased family member?

12. No Women Allowed…

 

No Women Allowed...
TM Zink Made A Final Request To Keep Women Out Of The Library

TM Zink

TM Zink clearly still had some issues with women following his death in 1930. He made very specific requirements with his money in which the majority of it was placed in a trust fund. What little was left went to his daughter and his wife received nothing.

The money in the trust fund was to be used in later years to build a womenless library. Not only could women not enter but no women authors were permitted to have their books in the library.

Whatever his wife did it must have been bad…

 

Despite the outrageous, somewhat insulting and downright disgusting requests each person had one thing in common. They each had a Will. A document that outlined their requests and demands once they were gone.

Of course some requests can be overturned if they are too ridiculous such as TM Zink whose daughter contested the Will and walked away victorious. Nevertheless a Will enables you to at least state your requests.

Lawyers do often discourage those who want to have the last laugh however the choice is yours and one that should be adhered to. Creating a Will gives you perspective and allows you to give your final farewell to your loved ones, no matter how ridiculous they are.

Originally Posted On HubPages

5 Simple Ways To Keep Your Loved Ones Memories Alive

Losing a loved one is a tragic and devastating life experience and those first anniversaries are the hardest but there are ways to keep their memory alive and make those days a little bit easier.

5 SimplWhen you’ve lost a loved one the hardest moments often come with those first anniversaries whether birthdays, Christmas or Easter it’s always going to be difficult. Those were the times that you got together, celebrated and created happy memories but once they’re gone those days often become painful memories.

Although difficult, anniversaries can become meaningful to you and a beautiful tribute to your loved ones. Instead of mourning your loved one you can use those first anniversaries to cherishing their memories, their small quirks and their personality. Instead of dedicating a day to grieving, dedicate it to a day of memories. There are many simple yet touching ways to keep your loved ones memories alive and below are a few suggestion.

Family Get Together

Anything can spark the memory of a loved one, it’s often the little things that resonate with a moment you shared with them. Whether it’s when you laughed with them or even cried with them. It’s the little things that can bring you happiness, despite them not being there.

Simply having everyone around you can evoke those emotions and especially their memory. Having a dinner party with friends and family whilst eating copious amounts of food is can alleviate your pain. Together you can provide support to one another, to share stories and to comfort one another. Together you can cherish their life rather than mourn their death.

Naturally the day won’t be easy however the support of others is crucial especially at such a difficult time. It gives you the time to reflect on the year and to express your grief, anxieties and in some cases depression. Not only that but you’ll also have mutual understanding with other which makes it a lot easier to converse with others who share your views and emotions. While it’s only a small gesture to sit down and share a meal with your loved ones, it’s one that can be highly consoling.

Visiting Your Loved One

It’s a strange notion to suggest visiting your loved one when they have passed however going to where they have been laid can be soothing to the soul. Having a place to visit keeps a physical attachment to the world and somewhere you can feel connected to your loved one.

Although it may be a difficult place to visit it can also be comforting. You have somewhere you can speak to them and to lay something special for them. While talking to your loved one, for others this may be silly but it keeps their presence in your life. That ability to feel they can hear you or are with you doesn’t always have to be a spiritual belief but it can be something you find eminence in.

Ticking Everything Off The List

As silly as it seems, completing a person’s bucket list is a massive accolade to their memory. Taking on such a task not only gives you a goal or a challenge it can help be happier and be a part of their passions.

Giving yourself the chance to complete and carry on their dreams can bring you solace whilst grieving. It could even help you overcome your grief as it gives you purpose and energy to get out of bed each day.

Not only are you commemorating their memory you’re also going out and seeing the world and interacting with others. Although you are living through their death that doesn’t mean you can’t live yourself.

Creating A Lasting Legacy

Whether to mark a year or to commemorate a special anniversary, creating a memorial can be highly consoling. Typical legacies that are chosen are trees or benches or even plaques that are placed in beautiful places. Memorials give a people a place to visit to sit and remember a person’s memory.

You could also create a lasting legacy by raising money for a specific charity or even start a charity. You could create a special memorial that represents their passions or you could release lanterns each year on that anniversary. The choice is yours and it’s one that resonates with you on a personal level.

Special Tributes

Creating a unique tribute can highlight your connection, your love for them and create a beautiful lasting dedication. Anniversaries are a perfect time to create such tributes, you’ve had time to think about a suitable and fitting tribute to their memory and to yourself.

One very permanent option is a tattoo and if crafted rightly they can be a beautiful reminder. Whether they express a certain reassuring phrase, a note in their handwriting or even a tattoo of them. A tattoo is something that evokes a memory every time you see the image or writing.

You could even turn an old voice recording turned into a piece of art that depicts their voice. It’s both unique and beautiful which can then be displayed around your home. The recording is not just a final dedication to their memory but their physical presence also. For a small child you could turn an item of their clothing into a toy or blanket. It’s a small keepsake that is memorable and as they get older it’s something they can cherish.  

To create a more lasting memorial you could have their ashes compressed into jewellery or their fingerprint transferred onto jewellery. Having such testaments allows you to carry some part or your family or friend with you.

***

There are so many ways to keep a loved ones memories alive by creating a touching, memorable and beautiful accolade. Especially at great times of difficultly having support or something to remember them by can make anniversaries easier when they come along.

Naturally no matter how much you prepare or how many people you surround yourself with, those days are going to be hard. Death is a harrowing and brutal life experience that we incur but finding a tiny bit of solace can make the day easier.

 

Originally Posted On Damsons Future Planning

Make Your Life Colourful

It’s the end of the Holi festival, one which shows us to live life in colour with our loved ones.

Today is last day the Holi festival, a Hindu tradition that is primarily celebrated in Nepal and India known as the ‘festival of love’ or ‘festival of colours.’ No matter its name, the festival has the same message, one which shows us we should celebrate life with your family with as much colour and happiness as possible.

While life has its many ups and downs there are always adventurous and loving memories that we fondly look back on as we get older. Whether that means you travel to Nepal to launch colour in the air or you stay at home and have your little one get creative with paint and paper. It’s how you look upon those moments that truly make them special.

Life can be as colourful as you want, we’ve compiled a few suggestions to make your life or year as colourful and memorable as the Holi Festival.

Give Blood 

Giving blood is a small act that has the biggest impact on another. Donating something as precious as blood gives you the opportunity to save another person’s life. It’s something that you can look back on and say you’ve done it, you helped out those in need.

Happiness in life doesn’t always materialise from actions that benefit yourself, often it’s the selfless acts that truly make us happy. Knowing we’ve done something that could help others is one of life’s perks that only we can make happen. Plus you can also use this experience to overcome your fears of needles or blood, if you have such phobias that is.

Do Something Unexpected

Be spontaneous. Surprise those around you by doing the abnormal. Why not attend a belly dancing class or go indoor skydiving? Why not be more adventurous and do an outdoor skydiving? Of course you can do something tamer, you could organise a paintballing session or go to a unique event in your area.

There are so many adventurous and exciting activities that you can get involved with. It might be something you’ve always wanted to do or something completely out of character, either way do it.

“You’ve only got one life but if you do it right, once is enough” – Mae West

 Plan a Trip of a Lifetime

For most people they have a bucket list, a list compiled of places and things they want to do, so why not plan them? Why keep it a dream?

If you’re serious about this you should begin by planning everything out. Get the brochures for your desired destination, pick the hotel, travel and outline everything you want to do.

Even if you can’t afford it at that moment in time, simply planning it can inflate your mood and it may even encourage you to save and make it a reality. Plan to see the Northern Lights, get ready for that shopping spree in New York or buy those hiking boots for a trek up Everest. As they say, the world is you oyster.

Host a Dinner Party

Most of our memories derive from times shared with our loved ones, especially at holidays and events when you all get together. Hosting a dinner party gives you the perfect excuse to have an evening with those you hold close. Why not become the Michelin star chef that lives within you or one you think you are anyway.

Whether a successful cook or champion of spaghetti hoops it doesn’t matter. What’s really important is having your loved ones around you and that you’re having fun. Something simple such as a meal could be the boost of happiness that breaks up the week and one that gives you a night that you can fondly look back on.

Get a Pet

It’s surprising how much comfort a pet can bring. Their excitable demeanour, cute quirks and soft fur can bring immense happiness and joy to a home.

They are often the source of much entertainment and you don’t have to get a huge animal either, gerbils, hamsters or birds can be just as comforting.

Travel & Experience the World

There is so much to see in the world and while the TV can show you it, it cannot give you the experience. Take the time to learn about new cultures, embrace different lifestyles and see the renowned sights of the world.

Experiences are what make life fun and interesting. Not only do you embrace other atmospheres you also get to see how you fit into such a life. You never know, it may encourage you live abroad for a few months or years depending on how adventurous you are.

Make life an adventure and not a dream, give yourself the memories to look back on and smile.

Take up a New Hobby or Sport

There are all manner of sports and hobbies that exist, it’s a pastime that a person finds both therapeutic. Whether it’s becoming the king or queen of crafts, a builder of intricate designs that refine your skills and expertise. Not only is it therapeutic but it’s also something that you can proudly showcase to your loved ones.

Besides crafts you could get your adrenaline pumping with a new sport. It can be combat focused such as boxing, Brazilian Jujitsu or fencing or it can be more delicate like yoga or dance. There is a huge range of sports out there. Exercise, no matter how strenuous, is healthy not just to the body but to the mind also.

Scientists have found that exercise releases endorphin’s which propel positivity and happiness, the main component to a good life.

Conquer Your Biggest Fear

Everyone has a fear whether its bugs, heights, water or the dark, it’s a phobia that frightens you and one that can hold you back.

Fear is a person’s kryptonite, it can stop you from doing all manner of things whether social outings or visiting certain places.

Conquering your fear rather than let it control you. Take a deep breath and do what you fear the most. It can be quite liberating to defeat the thing that holds you back.

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” – Paulo Coelho

There are many excuses not to do something but when it comes to the end it’s those excuses that you come to regret the most.

Make a life that’s memorable, one that can be celebrated and cherished by your loved ones. A life that can be celebrated.

Originally Posted On Damsons Future Planning

7 Horrific Female Funeral Rituals That No Longer Exist

It’s International Woman’s Day today, a day that celebrates women’s social, economic and political advances in the world. History taught us the brutal way in which we women were treated, even in death we had to make sacrifices.

International woman’s day, the day were women across the world celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political advancements that they achieved.

Of course it is wildly known that women weren’t once treated as equals. There were many traditions and etiquette’s that a woman were expected to adhere to. Even to the extent of funeral etiquette. Around the world and throughout the age’s women have had to follow mind baffling rules and endure brutal practices.

Teaming up with Damsons Future Planning we complied a list of seven of the most horrifying and shocking rules and obligations that women were forced to comply with.

India

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A popular practice in India was Sati an Indian tradition in which women were expected to jump on the flames of her deceased husband during cremation.
It has been said that this was practised for two reasons, firstly it was done to deter women from murdering their husbands for another lover. Secondly women killed themselves in order to accompany their husbands into the afterlife in case of any opportunist angles.

This was a tradition that woman had to obey even if this meant they had to be dragged onto the flames. Thank fully the Sati method died out in 1811 after a petition was filed to the Indian authorities requesting the ban of Sati.

Papua, Indonesia

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The Dani tribe of Papua, have a ‘unique’ custom when it comes to burying their dead and attending funerals. At a funeral it is customary for a woman to hack their fingers off as offering to the dead.

The ritual is deemed as a gratifying symbol to the dead whilst also igniting physical pain as well as emotional pain. This is an integral part of the grieving process that symbolises affection to the deceased.

The tradition has now been banned but the process of only females maiming themselves for loved ones is a barbaric form of showcasing emotion.

Vikings Death

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This formality is one of the more gruesome and stomach churning funeral traditions that sadly existed and enforced upon women.

When the chief of the Viking clan died a slave girl had to volunteer to join him in the afterlife, effectively volunteering to die.

However it wasn’t only dying that a woman had to endure. Once volunteered the woman was guarded and the day before the funeral she was forced to have sex with each man in the village.

After which the woman was then strangled and stabbed to death by a matriarch. She was then laid next to the chief and set alight in the Viking tradition.

It was a brutal practice all done to ensure the chief had a slave for his journey and afterlife in Valhalla.

Fiji

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Another savage practice involving women was the strangulation funeral once carried out by the Fijians.

It was customary for family members who were close to the deceased, primarily their wives, to die with their loved ones via strangulation.

The Fijians believed that the God, Ruvuyalo would destroy a man’s soul if he entered the afterlife without proof of marriage.

What’s even more disturbing is that a close family member to the wife, usually her brother would be the one strangling the widow. If the brother refused he would be shunned and shamed by the village, in particular by the deceased family members.

Men on the other hand had it much easier. They were required to cut their beard off and place it under their wife’s armpit. His beard was deemed as evidence of marriage to their God whereas a woman was expected to sacrifice her life to prove their marriage.

Clearly this is a cruel and unjust practice that was ten times worse for women, it was eventually abolished for fairer and more humane burials.

Taiwan

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It is customary and widely expected that at a funeral in Taiwan there are showgirls and strippers present.

In Taiwan a man’s wealth and social status is measured by how many people attend their funeral. An ironic notion given that they are dead. However the method proved highly effective when it came to driving up attendees.

The entire affair showcases women as sex symbols in order to prove a man’s wealth to the community. Whilst still in operation the government are cracking down on such affairs however women are still in demand.

For many cultures this tradition has been described as undignified and disrespectful however is it because a stripper is present or because it’s disrespectful to the woman?

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Funeral practices in Ancient Greek were much more respectful and fairer to women. The entire funeral process was actually carried out by women with them conducting the three main rituals.

A woman was expected to lay out the body (prosthesis), carry on the funeral procession (ekphora) and take care of the burial or cremated remains.

Whilst a woman conducting a funeral service is acceptable today, such traditions would have been unthinkable just a few hundred years later.

Compared to other traditions this a much saner practice that had women put to work rather than put to death. The caring nature of women deemed them suitable to carry out such work and death was mourned but not at the expense of another person’s life.

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Funeral traditions in Britain weren’t barbaric but they did control women forcing them to adhere to strict guidelines or face social shunning. Women actually had manuals on how to mourn death, what to wear, how to act and how long they had to mourn for.

The majority of households had a copy of The Queen and Cassell’s a guide to life. Not only covering funeral etiquette but etiquette for parties, functions, day to day activities and even how to greet and converse with men.

In the book it states that when a woman’s husband died she had to dress in black for at least six months. After that period she may enter half mourning and wear subtle, dark coloured dresses and certain jewellery for another six to eight months. During which time she wasn’t permitted to attend balls or parties and couldn’t be seen with any husband potential men.

In some cases women weren’t even allowed to attend funerals if they were deemed too hysterical. While the funeral procession was on going a woman was expected to stay at home and wait until the affair was over.

Britain followed a very traditional view that was used to manipulate and control the minds of women. Something which died out very quickly once women started speaking up for themselves.

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All around the world women have been deemed as inferior and often subjected to barbaric and demanding rules and rituals. Whether that be self-sacrifice, hacking off body parts or being manipulated into conforming to society, it hasn’t been easy.

With persistence and dedication women have changed mind sets, rallied for equal rights and continue to push barriers in a bid for a fairer society.

While life has improved for most there are still obstacles that face women today. As International Woman’s Day approaches women are rallying for boldness with this year’s theme being ‘Be Bold For Change’ campaign.

International Woman’s Day is on 8th March, 2017 and will be about giving women the courage to reach their potential. We may have had it brutal and we may still have barriers that need to be broken however we are a powerful force, history proves that.

For more information go to the International Woman’s Day website.

Originally Posted On Buzzfeed

Multicultural Britain & Our Mentality On Death

Multicultural Britain has developed many of are mannerisms and thoughts but what is it about multicultural Britain that’s changing our mentality on death?

In the last century Britain has developed into a multicultural country that is home to different faiths, culture and beliefs, each of which are adding to British lifestyle. As these cultures settle into the UK, thoughts on death are beginning to develop.

The traditional British funeral of a burial or cremation at a church with a hearse progression and black attire is becoming less favourable. Atheists, Buddhists, Indians, Islams and many other religions don’t want to be buried in a church, instead they want a burial that reflects their faith and their ideologies.

Using this information Damsons Future Planning began researching into past and present mourning and just how much has actually changed.

A traditional funeral is becoming dated and other options are growing in popularity. For instance the last five years has seen an increase in woodland burials by 9% and sea and home burials by 3%.

What is it about multicultural Britain that’s changing our mentality on death?

The Environment

According to The World Counts 2.3 trillion tons of carbon dioxide has been added to the Earth in the last 200 years, half of which was added in the last 35 years. As pollution continues to rise campaigns to save the Planet Earth are even affecting funeral affairs.

In Britain over 74% choose to be cremated however this is one of the most damaging processes to the environment. However as the Earth’s resources deplete Eco-friendly funerals have developed following the demands of one, fifth of Brits alone.

In a bid to reduce pollution from cremation scientists have developed Resomation which uses alkaline hydrolysis to chemically break down the body. This process reduces emissions by up to 35%. Resomation in comparison to cremation is significantly cheaper at £650. However this price doesn’t incur other funeral costs but it is a process that’s highly effective at reducing carbon emissions.

Alongside Eco-friendly cremations (Resomations) there have been developments in burials. Woodland burials have become popular as they maintain and legally preserve large acres of land. The Woodland Burial Trustpreserve multiple woodland areas across Britain, offering plots from £700.

Other futuristic burials or cremations involve organic pods and reef balls both processes which aim to use the body’s nutrients for the Earths benefit.

Eternal Reefs was set up in a bid to save marine life and has become popular with fisherman, sailors, environmentalists, military veterans and divers. They specialise in turning a person’s ashes into artificial coral which offers support to dying marine life. Whilst sounding amazing the process is neither cheap nor wholly Eco-friendly. Cremation is still required and the transformation into a Reef Ball costs £3,000-£5,000.

The other option, the organic pod uses the body’s nutrients to feed the environment and enables the growth of trees. Effectively, despite being dead your body can blossom into a living organism. While not available just yet 10% of Brits have stated they would choose the pod for a more environmentally friendly funeral.

The Digital Age

Social media has digitalised death. Attitudes towards death have evolved as the digital age grows. Nowadays people are sharing funeral ideas via Pinterest, they are expressing sympathies online and conveying funeral information via email or social media.

Newspaper obituaries are becoming obsolete, millennials in particular rarely purchase newspapers let alone check the obituary section. Instead people are now taking to texting, calling, emailing or conveying information via social media.

Even condolence cards are becoming a thing of the past with many choosing to express their sympathies via social media. As many as 22% of 20–39 year old’s are comfortable at just expressing their condolences online.

It’s not just the process of conversing with others that’s changed, how we act has become more robotic. The term ‘funeral selfie’ was coined following the surge of people snapping pics at funerals. Disturbingly 48% of millennials have admitted to this and even more disturbing is people’s wishes to live stream their funeral. Over 4% of Brits said they would consider live streaming their funeral on social media.

Although shocking and a somewhat robotic mannerism, research undertaken by the International Journal of Communication found that such practices are done to convey and signal emotional circumstances to others.

It’s an interesting comparison but one that states just how our mentality has developed in the digital age. Sadly as technology grows our mentality on death and how we emotionally link with others has become more digital. It’s just another factor that has resulted in a diversion from traditions of both funerals and mourning itself.

Cultural Interests

In the last century lifestyles have unimaginably changed. Life has become easier and more enjoyable and with that in mind people want a funeral that celebrates their life. Over 33% of Brits want music, readings or hobbies incorporated into their funeral.

Celebrations have even extended to nights out with a quarter of Brits encouraging their loved ones to go out drinking after their funeral. Not only do people want a funeral that celebrates their life they want one that showcases their personality. Funerals are now incorporating people’s passions and interests to make their farewell both special and memorable.

There has been a rise in tailored funerals which have incorporated all manner of interests such as Marvel, Disney and even festival styled funerals.

In New Orleans people lead jazz processions throughout the streets playing loud and exuberant music for all to get involved in. It’s a process of celebrating life rather than mourning a persons death.

Despite the death of a loved one being one of the most painful experiences we endure people who planned or attended personalised and celebratory funerals found solace in the unique and caring farewell.

Religion

In the last two decades religion in Britain has diversified, according to Vexen there are more than 170 faiths in the UK.

As different faiths are stitched into British society the mentality surrounding death continues to evolve. Different faiths respond to death with its own tradition.

For example Hindu’s and Sikhs don’t view death as goodbye but as a ‘see you soon’ soiree. Both religions believe in reincarnation of the soul and while the body is gone the soul is still very much alive. The prospect of meeting the person again is likely, a mentality that encourages a more celebratory funeral.

As British society evolves and becomes home to different cultures, lifestyles and religions, the traditions of death develop and change.

Multicultural Britain has certainly played a huge factor in challenging and inevitably developing funeral choices and ideologies. Whether it be technology, religion or the conservation of the planet each has played its part in evolving the British mentality.

Originally Posted on Thrive Global