What Funeral Directors Think About Choosing Your Last Outfit
Funeral traditions are changing, y’all.
Do you know what you’d want to be caught dead in?
According to a recent survey by Finery, 96% of women spend up to one hour getting dressed in the morning. That’s an hour of hemming and hawing, dressing and redressing, for an outfit you’ll wear for 12 hours max!
In a world of endless fashion options, it should come as no surprise then that the funeral industry has seen a shift in the clothing people want to be buried in. Today, whether it’s George H.W. Bush in his final pair of whimsical socks, or Aretha Franklin laying in repose wearing five-inch Louboutin stilettos, more and more people are eschewing tradition and choosing to be buried not in stuffy finery, but in clothes that represent how they lived.
The results of a 2017 survey by the National Funeral Directors Association suggest that Americans are less interested in traditional funerary rituals than they ever have been. Nearly half of respondents reported attending a funeral at a non-traditional location, such as a cemetery, an outdoor setting, a home, or a similar meaningful location chosen to represent the life of the deceased.
Amber Carvaly, a funeral director and co-founder of Undertaking LA, told Vice that she believes burying people in whatever they like is simply the right thing to do. “My personal opinion is that this is your last outfit. Why the heck are you worried about what other people think? You're dead,” she said. “You're finally free from that. So, wear what you want.”
Carvaly also revealed which fashion choices make a funeral director’s job easier, including avoiding skintight clothes, which can be hard to put on. “Out of respect for keeping as much of the body intact, I always say to bring in looser-fitting garments,” she told Vice. You can imagine how hard it is to roll and pull clothes onto a body that can’t be stood up…
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Amy Cunningham, a progressive funeral director who owns Fitting Tribute Funeral Services, an eco-friendly, family-run funeral home in New York City, told Vice she advocates dressing the departed in items of significance.
“I don’t mind if it’s a quilt from home, or anything that has the energy of the family or love around it. It’s a lovely symbol,” Cunningham said.
At Larkspur Conservation in Sumner County, Tennessee, a conservation burial ground, clothing, makeup and even caskets are optional.
"For a lot of people, this body is not what's going to be eternal—the spirit is obviously the eternal part—and so it doesn't matter what happens to the body for most religious groups,” certified grief counselor Roy Hamley explained to NPR. “It's what happens with the spirit.”