In the end, everyone has to go — but some people want to go with style. While a funeral is typically a solemn event, one St. John's end-of-life doula says there's growing trend for personalization when it comes to our final goodbye parties.
It's a move that doula Heather Spratt welcomes.
"Rituals are important, and I think there are aspects of that end of life process that are comforting to people," Spratt told CBC News.
"But what has happened in funerals ... is people are taking a little bit more ownership. They're feeling a little more comfortable tweaking it to have their own personal stamp on things."
For instance, rather than reading from a religious text during a service, Spratt said eulogists may recite song lyrics instead.
She recalled one funeral in which the man who'd died loved chocolate.
"Everybody brought a different kind of chocolate and brought it up to the front," she said, "and the family got to take home two years' worth of chocolate."
Guests and loved ones are also decorating coffins, signing them like a yearbook, she added.
"People are becoming much more involved. It's much more interactive. It's much more personal."
Intrepid funeral organizers are also pre-arranging plans for their own ceremonies, she said, which gives them the opportunity to display their personalities. Having input on the event can also be a source of comfort for the person nearing the end of their lives and for their families, she said.
Other funeral industry companies, like Nova Scotia-based Atlantic Funeral Homes, are leaning into the trend.
General manager Mark Hoffman said a client's mother had really loved being at her cottage, so they worked to recreate that atmosphere for her funeral.
"Mom was in her casket at the front of the room, and then we had tables throughout the room. And during the evening friends would come over and they played cards and [ate] lots of chips, lots of popcorn. Things that they remember from the cottage," said Hoffman.
The family blasted country songs because in life, the woman had a tendency to play the music loud.
Other businesses have sprung up to offer options on what to do with cremated remains, like launch them into space, make them into fireworks, incorporate the ashes into tattoo ink, press them into diamonds and even use them to make vinyl records.
Sandra Miller is a florist in Rothsay, N.B., who's seen a change in what people are looking for.
"I've decorated wheelchairs, guitars, hockey sticks, PlayStation remotes. I've put teapots into things, rolls of yarn, things like that…. [Customers have] brought in moose horns from the hunting camp that I put on arrangements," said Miller.
Spratt suggests people are shifting away from traditional funerals in part because they don't necessarily identify with a particular religion.