Planning Your Funeral: How and Why?

In a recent blog, we touched on the fact that roughly half of people surveyed in the UK have not discussed their wishes for their funeral with their loved ones. Additionally, 1 in 5 of us has arranged a funeral without ever having discussed with the deceased what they would have wanted.

In some cases, this will be because someone has died suddenly and unexpectedly. In other cases, it will be because the deceased believed that their funeral was more important to those left behind than it was to them. This is a valid opinion, after all the “final farewell” is an important part of the grieving process. Often though, those left behind may not feel emotionally prepared to make those preparations, particularly if they have already had to make a lot of decisions about end of life care for their loved one.

Without researching the options, cursory decisions made by people for their funeral can sometimes store up problems for their relatives later on. We have had enquiries for cardboard coffins following remarks such as “I don’t care; just throw me in a cardboard box.” When the family then discover that this is actually a more expensive option than many standard coffins, they feel torn.

During her illness, my own relative had wanted to use a major high street provider, mainly because she wanted to plan her own funeral and she didn’t know other funeral directors could provide such a service. When the end came sooner than expected and her choice didn’t seem like the right option, her son then felt guilty for approaching one of our customers.

The least onerous (and possibly even fun) way to choose your funeral could be to articulate your wishes when the end actually seems like a long way off. We have made a form that you may wish to download and complete. You could print it off and leave it with a loved one or, better still, with your Last Will & Testament. Why not print off a few blank copies in case you change your mind later? If you want to plan financially, as well as aesthetically and logistically, the best option is to speak to some funeral directors in your area, to decide who you would like to arrange the funeral and advise how much it will cost.

Here are some things you might like to think about:

The Coffin

This is our area of expertise and we offer a large choice that you could browse. Simple and practical? Painted or designed with a picture? Eco-friendly? Oak, mahogany, pine?

Raised lid, panel sides or a religious carving? Why not look at our coffin catalogue and leave a precise instruction for your loved ones? We will work with any funeral director you choose.

Before The Funeral

The funeral director will prepare your body for the funeral so you may specify how you would like to be dressed. The funeral director will be able to offer range of gowns with matching frills to dress the coffin but you may prefer to wear a best suit, dress or even your favourite team’s strip!

Your family and relatives might like to view you should circumstances allow this, so think about whether you would allow it or who should be allowed. You may wish for people to visit you in the Chapel of Rest. In my own Irish background, the tradition is to be taken home as soon as possible and then brought into the Church, in a separate service, the night before the funeral.

The Funeral Service

Would you prefer to be buried or cremated? If you are being cremated but attend church, you can still have a church service or requiem mass at your local parish church, as well as a short service at the crematorium. This may feel more personal and traditional for your family.

How would you like to be carried? A motor hearse is a popular option but horses and a carriage may appeal. You may ask that the route pass by some favourite hang-outs or a former home or workplace. Would you like relatives and friends to act as pallbearers or use those provided by the funeral director?

If you would like to be cremated

Where would you like your ashes to end up? There may be options for scattering or interment at the crematorium. They could be scattered at a family grave or perhaps at a well-loved beauty spot.

Some people choose to have a small sample of their cremated remains kept and stored in a memory bear or picture frame but they can also be turned into a synthetic gem stone and placed in a ring or pendant.

Have a think about music, hymns, poems or readings you would like to be included and who you would like to read them. You may like someone to prepare some words to say about you or you could even write something in life yourself to be read out later. All of your choices will be set out in an Order of Service, which can also be tailored to suit your personality. Why not browse our printed services catalogue for ideas?

If you would like to be buried:

Do you have a plot in mind, perhaps even where you can be laid to rest with a family member? If you have bought a plot, make sure you pass on the details.

After the Service

Would you like to have a post-funeral gathering and if so, where? It could be at your home, your favourite pub or social club or a nearby function room. Would you like the bar to be open or a more sober affair? Could you suggest a playlist for background music?

Flowers and donations

Some people will want to offer a financial contribution in your memory. This may be in the form of a floral tribute but you could ask that people make a donation to a favourite charity instead. You could specify that immediate family arrange the flowers and that other mourners can donate.

It’s clear there is a lot of choice available and so it’s easy to appreciate why some people may be overwhelmed when taking on the task of planning a funeral on behalf of someone else. Even if you don’t have strong views on some of the questions above, why not make a choice on those where you do have a preference. It may help those you love in the end.

Download Our Funeral Planning form