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Published: 1 year ago
If you’ve ever told your friends and loved ones, “Don’t have a funeral for me when I die—throw a party in my honor instead,” you’re not alone. And maybe you’ve wondered who all would show up to that party, and what they’d have to say about you? Bob Eleveld of Grand Rapids, Michigan, got to find out.
Eleveld, an attorney and local politician, achieved virality when he published his “nobit” — an obituary he wrote and had published in the Grand Rapids Press prior to his death. It’s cleverly written, beginning: “Hel-‘LO’! This is Bob Eleveld. As I write this notice, I am still with you, although my doctors have informed me that this status will change in the near future...”
He went on to invite his readers to his Celebration of Life Open House on Saturday, March 18, 2017. “I'm planning on being there with you. I would like the opportunity to share a moment with all of the people who have touched my life in so many ways and to let you know how much you have meant to me.”
As it turned out, Eleveld was not well enough to attend the party, but it went on anyway, and his family returned home afterward to read him notes written by some of the hundreds of friends who were there in his honor. Some who showed up didn’t even know Eleveld, but were intrigued after reading his “nobit.” “I think my dad would have been delighted by that," his daughter told the Grand Rapids Press. "If my dad could make one more connection by having this party... for him, that would have been the best.”
Eleveld died the day after his Celebration of Life Open House. He was surrounded by the family who had attended his party the day before and read him the many notes of love and friendship he received.
Funerals, it’s often said, are for the living. We gather to mourn and remember our lost loved one, and it’s more about the comfort we receive in the wake of their death than the specifics of how we send them off. Eleveld’s Celebration of Life was for the living, too — for all his loved ones, and for him, as the ultimate tribute in his last days of life.