Woman propped up with beer, cigarettes at wake

Family says they wanted to celebrate her life

NEW ORLEANS - A New Orleans woman remembered as a "party girl" received a sendoff that captured her zest for life.

The family of Miriam Burbank, 53, said she loved a cold beer, an occasional scotch and the New Orleans Saints.

So, a funeral home found a way to combine all that in her wake.

Burbank was propped up at a table with a cigarette in her hand, a glass of beer and disco lights.

Family and friends of Burbank enjoyed the arrangement.

"She gets down. Fifty-three -- she's not a normal 53," said Zymora Kimball, Burbank's daughter. "I wanted to do something amazing so she's never forgotten."

Burbank's daughters had a vision they presented to Charbonnet Funeral Home.

"They said that they didn't want a traditional religious-type service," said Lyelle Bellard, funeral director. "She was one of those people that just enjoyed life, enjoyed living, just enjoyed people."

There was initially some resistance from family members.

"A lot of people didn't accept what I was doing," Kimball said. "I didn't let that stop me, and I know she's happy with how she's looking."

"When I walked in, I feel like I was in her house and I didn't hurt so much," said Sherline Burbank, Miriam's sister. "It's like she's not dead. It's not like a funeral. It's like she's just in the room with us."

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