When I was doing research for my book, The Courage to Laugh: Humor, Hope and Healing in the Face of Death and Dying, I asked a number of people how they wanted to be remembered after they were gone.
Most said that they wanted people to remember the happier times they shared with their friends and loved ones. Many also said that they wanted a funeral where people celebrated their life and who they were.
Joan Rivers, the comedian who died recently, was one of those people who not only wanted people to continue laughing after she was gone but also to do so at her funeral.
In her 2013 book, I Hate Everyone, Starting With Me, she wrote about her inevitable death:
“When I die (and yes, Melissa, that day will come; and yes, Melissa, everything’s in your name) I want my funeral to be a huge show biz affair with lights, cameras, action …“I want Craft services. I want paparazzi. I want publicists making a scene! I want it to be Hollywood all the way. I don’t want some rabbi rambling on; I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents. I don’t want a eulogy; I want Bobby Vinton to pick up my head and sing “Mr. Lonely.” I want to look gorgeous, better dead than I do alive. I want to be buried in a Valentino gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag. And I want a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing like Beyonce’s.”
Although Rivers is gone, according to her daughter Melissa, she wants us to continue laughing. “My mother’s greatest joy in life,” said Melissa, “was to make people laugh. Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.”