Eventually every family has to arrange the party no one wants to plan – a funeral. With relatives gathering for the holiday, it’s an opportune time to start a face-to-face conversation about each person’s ideal send-off.
However, it’s often awkward to start a funeral planning conversation. Hollywood to the rescue!
It’s easy to watch a funny film and start a serious conversation based on what you see in the movie. Here is a list of funny, family-friendly films that bring a light touch to a dark subject. These movies can help get the conversation started.
Undertaking Betty (2002 – PG-13) starring Brenda Blethyn, Alfred Molina and Christopher Walken. Stuck in a marriage that’s killing her, Betty thinks the only way to break from her two-timing scoundrel of a husband is to fake her own death. With the help of her rekindled old flame, the local undertaker, she finds a new life after a comedic funeral journey. The flamboyant competing funeral director in town creates the ultimate Star Trek funeral.
The Six Wives of Henry Lefay (2009 – PG-13) This is a comedic cautionary tale for those who don’t make funeral plans, or for those who make plans but get married way too many times. It’s especially instructive on the need to keep estate plans up-to-date. Stars include Tim Allen, Elisha Cuthbert and Andie MacDowell.
Waking Ned Devine (1998 – PG) starring Ian Bannen and David Kelly. After Ned Devine dies from the shock of winning the lottery, two longtime friends, Michael and Jackie, discover the body. They embark upon an outrageous scheme to claim the jackpot by getting all the townsfolk to go along with their plan. There’s a lovely scene that raises the idea of being present at one’s own funeral and hearing what people would say about you.
Get Low (2010 – PG-13) starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek. This comedy/drama is based on the true story of a Depression-era man who threw himself a “funeral party” while he was still alive to hear what people would say about him. It shows how much detail goes into planning any kind of party, especially a funeral party.
Other comedy films to consider are Death at a Funeral (U.K. version 2007, U.S. version 2010, both rated R), Grand Theft Parsons (2003 – PG-13), and cult classic Harold and Maude (1971-PG). Most are available from Netflix or Amazon.com. You can find other funeral planning film recommendations at http://agoodgoodbye.com/funeral-films/.
Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death™, is author of the award-winning book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die and host of the new television interview series, A Good Goodbye TV. She speaks to groups using clips from funny films to illustrate funeral planning issues and help start serious conversations. Her website is www.AGoodGoodbye.com.
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