The Pepper Party – A {DIY} Non-Traditional Funeral

The Pepper Party – a Funeral Alternative
 Pepper Party: pep·per /ˈpepər/ par·ty /ˈpärdē/ n. 1. a. A ceremony or group of ceremonies held in honor of Pepper, a mom, grams, and meemaw. A non-funeral in celebration of life for the benefit of those left behind.
Be a rebel with a cause – do things your way, do it yourself and thumb your nose at tradition – change the rules for your family.
Sometimes DIYing is the best way to care for your family.
Let me show you what we did, but first…

Choose which photo warms your

heart and gives you hope.

This one…

Non-funeral Pepper Party {Love My DIY Home}

Or this one?

Non-funeral Pepper Party {Love My DIY Home}

Do you know anyone who found comfort in a traditional funeral?

The thought of three days of standing around in a funeral parlor greeting visitors and then sitting through a funeral wasn't very appealing to our family. Have you ever faced something that you just knew you couldn't do? UGH. Besides, Mom made it very clear she didn't like funerals and didn't want one for herself.

Hence, we took the non-traditional route after Mom passed away.

She passed early on the 23rd (at 12:23AM on 12/23), just two days before Christmas.

We elected to have three Pepper Parties in her honor. The third was held in the summer because many of our family members had to travel and the weather here in Wisconsin can be a bit unpredictable.

Since Mom passed so close to Christmas, many felt sad for us, thinking it would interrupt our Christmas celebration. But we found it to be providential because of all the family time that was already planned.

We elected to celebrate her life

rather than mourn her passing.

The same day mom passed, we went with our daughter to hear the heartbeat of her baby (Maddie) for the first time.

The next day was Christmas Eve, so we were once again with family. And then, of course, came Christmas – more family time. Those days gave us very good memories (unlike how it would have been with a funeral home visitation).


It was the best thing we ever did.

Party #1

We had a local friends Pepper Party at our house on December 30. Friends from around Wausau came to support us and hear my stories of how Mom had her surgery, rehab, stroke and then hospice. They brought flowers, desserts and well wishes. We had food catered in from Dickeys BBQ and hors d'oeuvres from local delis. It was a blessed time. I was able to tell them of how God managed every moment and how His grace was sufficient.

Non-funeral Pepper Party {Love My DIY Home}

Party #2

We had a family Pepper Party at our house December 31. We laughed, we cried, we went through paperwork and Mom's stuff. We talked about G'ma and our memories of her while we sat in her room. We ate the leftovers from Pepper Party #1. It was very low key and intimate.

Party #3

We had a family reunion Pepper Party in Tomahawk, WI on the July 4th weekend. It actually turned out to be nearly a week long family celebration because we wanted to have many opportunities for our family to be together since we are spread out all over the country.

Thursday my DH and I went up to Tomahawk to spend time with my brother and his family.

Friday afternoon (July 3) we siblings and our spouses got together and went through Mom's boxes of photographs. We took a walk down memory lane together and since I'm the youngest, I found out things about our family history I never knew.

Non-funeral Pepper Party {Love My DIY Home}

Friday night my three siblings and I along with our spouses had a very nice dinner at Iozzo's Italian Restaurant while my kids got together and had a cookout at our house.

Non-funeral Pepper Party {Love My DIY Home}

Non-funeral Pepper Party {Love My DIY Home}

Saturday morning we drove out to Tomahawk for breakfast and then another cookout. My Brother's entire family spent the whole week at the lodge in Tomahawk and then hosted our reunion that Saturday.

Non-funeral Pepper Party {Love My DIY Home}

Non-funeral Pepper Party {Love My DIY Home}

I brought a huge table full of Mom's belongings for the family to look over and take home to the lodge. Everyone left with at least one momento.

Non-funeral Pepper Party {Love My DIY Home}

Sunday morning several family members went to church with us and then we had baby showers for both of my daughters, April and Katie.

Non-funeral Pepper Party {Love My DIY Home}

Do I look like I am mourning here? Mom would have loved all of the family celebrations.

After the showers, we planted a memorial flowering crab tree with Mom's ashes in our backyard. I asked all of the men from age 56 to 18 months to help dig the hole for the tree. Everyone placed a flower at the base and took a moment to reflect.
A friend took pictures for us.
Non-funeral Pepper Party {Love My DIY Home}

The next morning we had a birthday celebration for our son-in-law at a local restaurant.

Tuesday was our last day with our Virginian daughter and SIL.

A couple of days later my sister and two brothers had a memorial service for our Michigan friends and family in Michigan where they buried Mom's ashes next to my Dad.

A week of family celebration. No sadness. No pain. Just remembering and renewing.

I highly recommend it. How would you plan your perfect goodbye to your loved one if you could choose?

How do you feel about funerals?

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11 thoughts on “The Pepper Party – A {DIY} Non-Traditional Funeral”

  1. I don't want my family to have a normal funeral for me either.  I worked hard for the money I put aside for my death.  I don't want the funeral home to benefit from my life.  I want my kids to enjoy the money and do something fun together.  I love all of the celebrating you did with your family.  It's something I hope my family considers.  Thanks for sharing your celebration with my readers at  

  2. You know I've never really thought about not having a traditional funeral for a loved one. It's something I never really thought to change but you're right the whole thing isn't ideal. I like how you and your family celebrated your mother in so many ways.

    Thank you for linking up to the Welcome Home Wednesday Linky Party!

  3. I enjoyed your post.  What a wonderful family you must have!   I think more and more people are thinking outside the box – so to speak when it comes to end of life.  My husband and I are dealing with aging parents and we will respect their wishes when the time comes.  But for my husband and I, we both agree that a funeral is just not us.   Thank you for sharing your post with us at the Brag About It Link party.  Have a great weekend!


  4. Wow, it looks like she was a very special lady to be so throughly celebrated. I'm sorry for your loss but happy for your life and love! Thanks for stopping by the Welcome Home Wednesday Link-Party today… I loved the opportunity to read your post! We'd love to see you next week!

  5. I LOVE this post!  I would so rather my life or any friends or family's lives being celebrated with tears of gladness rather than sadness.  I hope that my family has a big blowout including keg stands! LOL Ok, maybe not the keg stands(we don't really drink) but just have fun being together reminising etc.  Thanks so much for posting this and making me realize I'm not the only one with wanting to make a funeral more about celebrating the person that has died rather that having self pity.

  6. Having an actual party funeral like this is something I would want. You need to celebrate their life as well as morn their death. A funeral will always be sad, but it's easier to think of the good times in this scenario instead of just focusing on how much you miss them. Sorry about your mother, but good on you to be strong enough to celebrate life!

    • Thanks, Sarah. When we look back at that time we do so with good memories – in contrast to when I think back to my Dad’s funeral, which was traditional. The Pepper Party is definitely the way to go.


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