Requests for personal funeral rituals increase with growing secularization and the individualization of death. Based on interviews, this article discusses four women's experiences of independently planning and conducting secular memorials and ash disposals. I discuss the role of improvisation in the processes surrounding these rituals. Imagination, invention, improvisation, independence and inspiration emerge as characteristic aspects of their accounts. Due to the atheist beliefs of the deceased, the families have actively distanced themselves from the Church's funeral ritual, and undertakers were not considered helpful. To amend this, the relatives assumed responsibility for planning the secular funerals rather than leaving responsibility to the dominant authorities of death. Arranging memorials and burials without previous experience made the mourners feel insecure, but they also took pleasure in the creativity of the process, through which they created meaningful and deeply personal memorials and ash disposals. The study shows how rituals were (re)created by combining personal details with already established funeral ritual elements, as the mourners both mimicked and actively distanced themselves from existing ritual forms.
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Opphavsrett 2021 Hanna Jansson