Renard Matthews' family wanted to remember him doing what he loved most.
As WGNO reports, the 18-year-old from New Orleans was the kind of young man who preferred to stay at home. He loved playing video games and the Boston Celtics.
According to Inside Edition, Matthews was shot and killed last month while walking his dog — a recemt gift from his mother.
Saddened to lose Matthews before he even graduated from high school, the family decided to make the teen's memorial a celebration of who he was and what he loved.
In addition to a jazz funeral, Matthews' family arranged a wake that displayed him surrounded by his favorite things.
At the viewing at Charbonnet Labat Glapion Funeral Home, Matthews was placed in a chair in front of a television playing a Celtics game. He was dressed in Celtics gear featuring his favorite player, Kyrie Irving, with a PlayStation controller in his hands. On the table beside him were his favorite snacks — root beer, Doritos, and snack cakes.
Though it may seem like an unusual way to display a loved one for a wake, the practice is not uncommon. According to Medical Daily, the practice is known as “extreme embalming” and is something of a trend in New Orleans.
While some people see extreme embalming as a way to help families cope with loss, others say that it can demonstrate feelings of denial about the death. Dr. Claudia Luiz, a psychotherapist, told Medical Daily that it really comes down to the symbolism on display in the embalming:
“Your emotions can gauge whether the embalming is done in the spirit of ceremony, love and spiritual renewal, or whether there is mockery, irreverence and hostility at base.”
As far as Matthews' family is concerned, it is a fitting tribute to a young man who died before his time.