Help me put together a funeral for a lost sense
November 16, 2014 6:11 PM   Subscribe

A family member lost her sense of smell in an accident and we would like to hold a little "memorial ceremony" to help her process it. Can you think of any songs, poems, quotations, readings, symbolic activities we could use? Serious and humorous suggestions are fine.
posted by Naanwhal to Religion & Philosophy (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Not a direct suggestion, but the film Walk Hard's main character loses his sense of smell. You might be able to find some ideas therein.
posted by Hatashran at 6:15 PM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

The casket should contain a toy alligator.
posted by Behemoth at 6:23 PM on November 16, 2014

Well, if it were me I'd be tempted to inflict a little pain on the other participants during this ceremony, so that their asomnia becomes a bit of a superpower....burn a hank of hair or a bit of rubber, something that will be revolting to everyone else but them. Maybe for the end of the thing, so there's a bit where you mourn the good scents, ending with a "you have no power over me" bit where they see they're impervious to terrible scents as well? "And your new name shall be She Who Walks Downwind of Tire Fires" sort of a thing?

Also, I read a great essay a while back by a trainee chef who mysteriously lost and eventually just as mysteriously regained her sense of smell...cursory google's not turning it up, maybe someone else knows what I'm on about and can link it (think the first thing she got after regaining was rosemary). Had some interesting remarks on how she coped in her classes at cooking school, IIRC.
posted by Diablevert at 6:32 PM on November 16, 2014 [9 favorites]

Not necessarily a suggestion either, since it isn't really related to the sense of smell... but The Nose is pretty amusing.

Something else this made me think about was how people actually try to diminish their sense of smell as a way to lose weight (because it makes foods less palatable...)... although this might be a slightly depressing prospect to consider, depending on how you want to look at it...
posted by gemutlichkeit at 6:33 PM on November 16, 2014

"No breeze, O majestic nose, can give thee cold - save when the north winds blow."

I think the nose speech from Cyrano de Bergerac might do nicely.
posted by chasles at 6:48 PM on November 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

There's a chapter called "A Speech on the Human Nose" in William Saroyan's "The Human Comedy". Can't find it online to link to it... Chapter 11. Short enough to read at your event, I'd think.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 6:56 PM on November 16, 2014

Molly Birnbaum is a cook who lost her sense of smell, too. She wrote a book called, "Season to Taste," which I haven't read but I believe has a lot about her loss. She also writes a blog called My Madeleine. She's been blogging for a long time, but has not been active for the last year or so.
posted by primate moon at 7:00 PM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, also here is a short (2-minute) video clip: Oliver Sacks on the man who "regained" his lost sense of smell.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 7:21 PM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe make a funny list of all the awful things she'll never have to smell again. Stinky feet, raw fish, public restrooms, etc.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:34 PM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're serving beans and cabbage, though, right?
posted by thylacinthine at 7:42 PM on November 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure what you should do with it (put it in the casket? create a parade?) but I think you need at least one wind-up nose.

I like the idea of saying goodbye to good smells and bad smells. Too bad about the mulled wine, but at least she won't care when the neighborhood skunk is getting frisky.
posted by aimedwander at 8:09 PM on November 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

J. Geils band; Love Stinks.
posted by buzzman at 8:38 PM on November 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

How about a dozen red NOSES?
posted by calgirl at 9:37 PM on November 16, 2014

That Smell by Lynyrd Skynyrd
posted by Rob Rockets at 10:44 PM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could get a bunch of fake nose and glasses for everyone as party-favors.

This doesn't really have to do with your question, but I think it's important enough to mention: Studies have shown that people who lose their sense of smell via accident or illness are highly susceptible to suicide and severe depression. It is not yet understood why this is, but scientists suspect that there is some connection between the part of the brain that perceives smell and the parts that deal with mood. Probably so, since it's also a fact that experiencing severe depression has the side effect of dulling the sense of smell.

If your friend finds that her moods become affected later on she should try to nip it in the bud right away, rather than waiting and it potentially getting worse.
posted by rancher at 12:10 AM on November 17, 2014

I wonder if you could borrow a Bloodhound from someone or bring a stuffed bloodhound as a gift or a prop. Also, fart cushions. Get several and pass them around or sneak them onto chairs throughout the event... I think you can get a keychain that has recorded farts too, any sort of fart joke item would be appropriate to remind her that she need never be bothered by that smell again. You could have the ritual shutting off of the fart fan in the bathroom (if it has its own designated switch)...and plastic dog poo, perhaps on an altar with candles.
posted by BoscosMom at 1:36 PM on November 17, 2014

A booklet of cupons for: One Free Smell Check. Do I smell OK? Should I eat this? Can I wear this shirt again? Here, smell this shoe.
Jeff Foxworthy has a comedy routine about the differences between men and women's sense of smell that would be good for someone to read.
I love this, mourning the loss of, event. What a great idea.
posted by BoscosMom at 1:49 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

And one of those desserts that look like a used kitty litter pan. On my phone so I can't link but there are lots of recipes out there, just find one that sounds good and looks realistic.
posted by BoscosMom at 1:58 PM on November 17, 2014

Get a plain paper box. Help her decorate it with whatever feels right. Inside put beautiful things with lovely smells, like flowers or pictures of babies. Help her bury it. Read a poem about letting go like
Letting go by Faye Zwicky
or about accepting like
The heaven of animals by James Rickey.
Give her something soft and tactile like a knitted shawl.
Let her cry because losing your sense of smell is a hard thing, and you are a good person for honoring her grief.
posted by SyraCarol at 4:24 PM on November 17, 2014

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