Like countless other customs, many funerary rituals around the world persist in the name of tradition despite the harm they can cause to marginalized communities. As a response to the inefficacy of and even violence caused by formalities and rituals surrounding death, I designed my own funeral, in loving memory of kt.
This first iteration of my funeral design is both a love letter to my life that I often perceive as trivial and meaningless. But I hope it also serves as an encouragement to others—especially those who also struggle to make meaning of the everyday––not to be afraid to be celebrated and remembered in the ways that feel right and true to themselves, without fear of straying from traditions and norms.
The design for my funeral first began as a thought exercise and response to a simple question I’d been asking myself for several years: ‘We plan our birthdays and weddings; why not our funerals?’ This question first arose during the pit of my depression, when I was questioning the worth of my life daily. In this current design, I sought to embrace and elevate the triviality of everyday life through the reimagination of Korean ritual objects, jegi.
Jegi (제기) is a traditional vessel used to offer food and drinks to the deceased during traditional ancestral rites (jesa) and funerals. While the jegi used in rituals in today’s society and recent history are strictly reserved for sacred rituals, I wanted to expand the function of these ritual objects and design modular vessels that (1) embed rituals of my daily life, (2) carry non-food items that are integral to my everyday mundanity, and (3) can be taken apart from the pedestal to serve practical daily functions.
This is but just the first iteration of my funeral design. My self-perception will inevitably change over the years, as will the way I’d like to be represented at my funeral. I am taking on my funeral design as a lifelong project, and encouraging others to consider these questions for themselves as well. Through this and future iterations of in loving memory of kt, I want to demonstrate that, while the customs that serve us and our community can be meaningful, it is also possible to reject and reimagine existing rituals and traditions and reinterpret ones that better represent our lives and serve grieving communities.