Different cultures have different traditions when it comes to dealing with their dead. Some Tibetan people take their deceased to a sacred place to allow vultures to consume the body, completing the circle of life. In some cultures, bodies are smoked and preserved to stay with the family. In most of the United States and many other Western cultures, we typically cremate or bury our dead after a somber funeral service.
And then there’s New Orleans.
The city has long had a tradition of doing funerals a little differently. There, funerals are often a joyful celebration of the person’s life, complete with singing and dancing. The tradition reminds us of the kinds of funeral processions seen in some parts of Africa where the deceased is sort of included in the party.
Being dead is no excuse not to dance at your own party as far as some people are concerned.
Renard Matthews was only 18 when he was robbed and murdered while walking his dog. His funeral was rather typical for New Orleans, including the music and “block party” vibe we are accustomed to.
It was his wake that caught people’s attention. Rather than laying him in a casket for viewing, the New Orleans family worked with Charbonnet Labat Glapion Funeral Home and placed Renard in a recliner with a video game controller in his hands, a game on the television, and his favorite snacks within easy reach. The funeral home has done this sort of viewing before, so they easily accommodated the family’s request.
The scene reflected how his friends and family would often find him at home and, for Renard’s loved ones, it was a comfort.
Check out this quick little news clip about it.
Renard’s unique wake quickly became the talk of Twitter. Some people were into it.
Well...there is a long tradition of such preparations. The Victorian era was famous for it. If it gives the family closure no one should judge.— SportsEthics (@SportsEthics) July 10, 2018
And he will be remembered as the most epic gamer— RagamuffinMan11 (@FalconMark11) July 10, 2018
Whatever it takes to get through that tragic heartbreaking day...— Marjorie Winston (@IGotSOMENerves) July 9, 2018
This guy's family had no choice in how cruelly he was snatched from them but every right to choose exactly how they wanted to remember him leaving.— Des (@Desmond_Curley) July 10, 2018
He is the way they remember him may he rest in peace— Courtney (@coco_chanel_30) July 10, 2018
Others found it distasteful.
This has to be a sick joke!— JoeAllenUGO (@biznsPro) July 9, 2018
please never let this happen to me— ale x ander (@lexwheeler) July 10, 2018
No disrespect but that is fucking weird! And would freak me the fuck out!— King Rob?? (@TheKidFour20) July 9, 2018
That is way too weird.— Theresa Herbst (@TheresaHerbst) July 10, 2018
Our condolences to Renard’s family, both for his passing and for the disrespectful comments they have received about how they chose to lay him to rest. We hope the compassionate reactions offer some comfort.