RIP (Rest in Peace) is one of the oldest wishes. People who plan ceremonies with me have this wish at heart. They believe creative, meaningful ceremonies make a difference. RIP may be one of the English language’s most widely understood acronyms. For good reason.
We want peace at death
Probably without a second thought, most people’s best wishes for anyone who has died it that they and their family are peace. We don’t share firm beliefs much any more. But in a world full of restlessness and beset by challenges and uncertainties, we long for peace.
We might think of Rest in Peace as a kind of best wishes at the end of life. RIP is part of our vocabulary for thinking and talking about death or loss. Set phrases like this help when words are hard to find. The wish that a person rest in peace might be spoken aloud by the intimate carer of someone who has died. It might be mentally whispered by a distant friend or a rock star’s fan.
That there should be a vibrant shared peace at the time of death is a great wish. Rest in Peace is worth exploring. Who is it for? How may it best be achieved? If you’re interested in exploring these questions with a third person I am available.
Co-create a non-religious funeral
RIP has come down the ages in cemeteries and graveyards. On the one hand Rest in Peace is a kind of ‘best wishes at the end of life and forever’. On the other it implies belief in everlasting life. It may have been a rough ride here on earth. In the Christian faith a priest can still invoke the ideal of resting in peace in the name of Christ.
If you aren’t religious, co-creating a funeral or memorial ceremony is a great way of exploring what matters most.
Love projects on the street, traumatic death
I see creative work like street art RIPs as ‘love projects’ to loved people. Traumatic death is unbearable. It calls for tributes and they often say RIP. These are my thoughts based on street art I’m familiar with. In Northcote the death of 15-year old Tyler Cassidy shot by the police, is memorialised in a number of laneways. One of the Fitzroy portraits of skater Lewis Marnell, who died suddenly and shockingly from a diabetic hypoglycaemic attack says RIP. Each of these murals connects us to the person who died.
After traumatic death or death by suicide, a well considered funeral that is inclusive of everyone makes a big difference.
Here’s someone who finds the RIP outpourings on Facebook touching. Doreen Felix, a New York writer says: ‘Fans imagined connections with their idols represent one of the few instances, to me, in which the internet has a capacity for sweetness.’ How accepting she is of how hard it is to find words. Yet the impulse to respond to death is there. How to help everyone have a shared, meaningful and creative experience when someone dies? I can help with fitting, creative and meaningful rituals.