Miriam Marie Banks: Life and soul at her own funeral


Miriam Marie Banks, better known as ‘May May’, died at the age of 53. She was known as the life and soul of the party and lived her life to the fullest. Leaving behind two daughters and and a large family her death came as a shock and yet the family knew just how to memorialise her.

Jazz funerals and festivals in Louisiana are common practice when celebrating the life of the deceased. The event of course carries feelings of sadness and grief but the main point is celebrating loved ones however, the Banks family took it one step further. Miriam Marie was dressed in her favourite outfit, given her favourite alcoholic beverage and wore her favourite sunglasses and was propped up behind velvet rope during the wake as everyone else partied and celebrated the way Miriam would have wanted. ‘She was full of life and we wanted her funeral to reflect her lifestyle’ say daughters who put the funeral and reception together. R&B music could be heard blaring for the hall in which the party/wake was held whilst Miriam sat in her finest threads with a drink in one hand and menthol in the other.

The story made headlines around Louisiana as this had never been seen before. Locals may have thought about indulging in this idea, or something similar, but never actually carrying it out as it would be deemed disrespectful to the dead. Many newscasters even expressed their personal opinions of the matter breaking the tradition of their normally un-biased view points. It grabbed a lot of attention far and wide due to the nature of the whole process. Some thought it to be bizarre, disrespectful or even an omen for bad luck to the family. Miriam’s family however had no qualms about the idea or even taking video footage of the event.

The recreation of a party scene is what Miriam’s daughters believed she would have wanted. Of course during the funeral proceedings there were tears and feelings of grief but can you honestly say you’ve completely honoured someone if you give them a funeral you want for them and not what they would’ve wanted?

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