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How to plan a Star Wars funeral

Stormtroopers in a procession

Recently some funerals have been reported on for including mourners dressed as Stormtroopers in the funeral procession. Photo by Vladeb.

Anyone who works in the funeral profession can see that the way people think about funerals is changing. Though there is still a big demand for traditional services, the rise of alternative funerals has redefined what is possible.

From motorcycle hearses to scattering ashes via firework displays, there’s more choice than ever to make a funeral unique and personal. Now sci-fi fans are taking things one step further by asking funeral directors to help them plan Star Wars-themed services in homage to their favourite films.

Since its release in 1977, the Star Wars franchise has grown to be worth around $10 billion, with hundreds of millions of devoted fans worldwide. Sci-fi fans aren’t exactly known for doing things by halves, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that the extraordinary phenomenon of Stars Wars is finding its way into every part of life - and death.

Star Wars funerals in the media

The idea of a Star Wars-themed funeral first saw media attention in 2014, after four-year-old Jack Robinson tragically died from an inoperable brain tumour. His father arranged a beautiful service featuring fully costumed Stormtroopers and a life-sized replica of R2-D2. The Stormtroopers, dressed in full white battle armour, accompanied the hearse on its procession to the church. A blue and white floral tribute read ‘Jedi’ above Jack’s blue Stars Wars coffin.

In early 2015 the press reported on a the funeral of Gordon Deacon, a huge Star Wars fan. On the day of the service four Stormtroopers lead the funeral processions and mourners were asked to attend dressed as Stars Wars characters. The same year, the funeral procession of grandmother Lorna Johnson from Luton was lead by a funeral director dressed as Darth Vader, while guests came dressed as various movie characters.

Darth Vader and Stormtroopers

Why choose a Star Wars funeral?

To more traditionally-minded people it may seem a little bizarre, perhaps even disrespectful to the memory of the person who has died, to include pop culture icons in the funeral service. In reality many people see these unusual themes as the ultimate tribute. For someone who was a lifelong fan of the beloved franchise, what could be a more fitting way to say goodbye?

It helps that the Stormtrooper and Darth Vader characters are actually quite ceremonial in their appearance. Dressed all in white and all in the black, usually marching in formation, these figures don’t need to take away from the solemnity of the occasion. Add to this the powerful, orchestral movie score that has become the iconic sound of the Stars Wars franchise, and a themed funeral can be just as dignified and reflective as any traditional service.

Arranging a Star Wars funeral

While themed funerals certainly aren’t for everyone, if your loved one was Luke Skywalker’s number one fan, you might want to give them a send-off worthy of a Jedi master.

Here are a few tips to arranging a Star Wars-themed funeral service:

  • A Stormtrooper vanguard. Having Stormtroopers accompany your loved one’s funeral procession is a great way to show their love of the films. You could ask friends and family to dress up; Stormtrooper costumes cost from around £60 on Amazon. Otherwise, you may be able to request the presence of the UK Garrison of Stormtroopers, who have movie quality costumes and often do fundraising and charity work.
  • A themed coffin. You can now get custom-designed coffins with any image on them. You could choose an image of your loved one’s favourite character, the movie logo, or even feature the Millennium Falcon soaring through space. Your funeral director will be able to liaise with companies that specialise in custom coffins.
  • R2-D2 and C3PO. The droid duo are two of the most memorable characters in the franchise. Some companies, such as Heroes 4 Hire, have replica models available for hire in the UK.
  • A fitting musical tribute. Star Wars’ musical score was written by celebrated composer John Williams and is a masterpiece of cinematic music. The ‘force theme’ is particularly powerful and could make for a moving piece of music to be played as the service begins.
  • Star Wars quotations. The universe of Star Wars is actually a very spiritual one. Master Yoda, a short, green, but nonetheless powerful Jedi, often has words of wisdom that could be easily used in a funeral service. For example, as Yoda dies, he says to Luke Skywalker: “Twilight is upon me, and soon night must fall. That is the way of things.” A fitting epitaph for any fan.

Many funeral directors are responding well to the increased demand for these more unusual types of funerals. With an ever-growing emphasis on arranging a service that reflects the personality of the person who has died, these kinds of requests may become the norm, not the exception.

If you want to arrange a themed funeral for your loved one, find a local funeral director to discuss the details. The popularity of alternative funerals is on the rise, so don’t worry about your request being a little different. Or if you want your funeral to be the best in the galaxy, you can make sure your funeral wishes are known in a will or with a funeral plan.