Have you ever thought about what you want for your funeral? You probably already know whether you want to be buried or cremated, but what about the details?
Where do you want your funeral to be held? Do you want readings and, if so, which ones and read by whom? Perhaps there’s even a particular route you would like your hearse to take.
By taking the initiative and setting out what you want now, you can get on with living your life, knowing that when the time comes your loved ones will know exactly what you wanted and be spared from having to make difficult decisions on your behalf.
Why should I plan for my funeral?
One of the most thoughtful things you can do for your family is to give them the freedom to celebrate your life instead of the burden of planning your funeral. In addition, by capturing your funeral wishes in writing you’ll know that your requests will be honoured.
As well as easing the emotional toll on your family, planning – and paying – for your funeral in advance will ease any financial burden on them, avoiding issues and even potential conflict.
Personalising your funeral
How you have your funeral is entirely up to you. It is even possible these days to set up a video link so family and friends who cannot attend the occasion can watch and be involved.
If you want a religious funeral you must put yourself in the hands of your faith leader. A religious ceremony has a fixed format called a liturgy which you will be able to personalise only to a certain extent.
If you don’t want a mainstream religious funeral you get to start with a completely clean sheet. You can do anything you like. A good funeral ceremony will be as unique as the life lived. Non-religious and semi-religious funerals are popular because they do what people want: they focus on the life of the person who has died and give thanks for that life.
A funeral is a farewell ceremony at which the person who has died is present. A commemorative event at which the person who has died is not present is called a memorial service. Some people have both a funeral and a memorial service. A memorial service is adaptable to all manner of circumstances.
A funeral is one of those rare events which is not necessarily improved by professionals. Your funeral needs to be created and conducted according to the culture, customs and language of your family.
Style your funeral
Traditional or innovative? Formal or informal? Plain-speaking and down to earth, or poetical and full of beauty and mystery? What will be the mood of those who come? What will be the dress code? Who will carry the coffin?
Can a funeral be fun?
You want to celebrate the life of the person who has died… but is it okay to be funny? Humour has its part to play in a funeral, but not as a cover up for sadness. But an account of someone’s life will almost certainly contain funny episodes, and joyous, happy memories will always make people smile.
Choose your features
From music to readings, flowers or donations there are a plethora to details to be discussed and decided. You may want to leave some instructions or just trust your family to organise. It is always easier if your preferences are expressed clearly before your passing.
Organising a funeral
Always chose a funeral director who is a member of either the National Association of Funeral Directors or the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors. Both of these organisations follow strict codes of practice and must provide you with a price-list if asked. Contact:
- The National Association of Funeral Directors, 618 Warwick Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 1AA. Phone: 0845 230 1343.
- The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, 3 Bullfields, Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire CM21 9DB. Phone: 0845 230 6777.
There is no legal requirement to use a funeral director. If this is something you’re considering, the Natural Death Centre provides free advice and guidance.
Direct Gov: What to do after a death is the official government website for UK citizens. There is useful information on dealing with a death, including advice on funeral options, using a funeral director and how to apply for help covering funeral costs if you are receiving tax credit.