Most people stay far away from talking about mortality. Others, like the 88-years-young Shatzi Weisberger, the proud host of what she calls “FUN-eral parties,” are preparing for the end of their lives with gusto. Weisberger is just one of many members of a movement for enthusiastically accepting death.
The Death Acceptance Movement, surprisingly, does not consist of a morbid bunch. The people attempting this way of life (no pun intended) are actually happy to confront the inevitable. New York Times reporter John Leland had the opportunity to interview the healthy and enthusiastic Mrs. Weisberger at her very own FUN-eral. The Jewish optimist’s only concern was the possibility of dying before her big event, which would not have been fun at all.
About twenty men and women appear to have filled the event space. “The closer I get to death, the more alive I feel,” said Shana Deane, one of the party’s attendees and a certified “death doula,” who sits with dying people in hospice.
What actually goes on at such a gathering? Only the most fun-filled, life-infused activities, of course. “There was no goth music or heavy black makeup among the people I met, no moping. More often than not, there was joy,” wrote Leland. Much like a 5th birthday party, attendees at “FUN-eral” events participate in arts n’ crafts (that is, if you consider decorating coffins with colored markers and positive slogans like “Let the fun (eral) begin!”, a form of ‘art.’)
It’s clear that Weisberger is living her best life. And if we had it our way, she would be all of our grandmothers. If we never get to meet the death maven IRL, then here’s hoping we cross paths in the after life.
Bonnie Azoulay is a Life intern at The Forward