Would you plan your own funeral?

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After I went to the funeral of my friend recently (you can see the blog about it here). My friend, who attended the service, and I were discussing the funeral; she mentioned that she wasn’t sure if she wanted a funeral when she passed away.  We didn’t go into too much detail, I’m not one hundred percent sure why she isn’t fussed on having a funeral – it did get me thinking.

Do you want a funeral? What kind of ceremony would you like? Would you plan your own funeral in advance? Would you change your mind if you knew you were going to pass away in the near future?

I personally think that a funeral can be an important part of the healing process when a loved one has passed. I have been to quite a few funerals over the last couple of years for a number of different people in my life, all with different relationships to me, I feel all the ceremonies were healing in some way. It is a very different experience conducting a funeral, especially a ceremony of a loved one, however I still find it contributes to the healing process. You can read about the funerals I have conducted for two people very close to my heart here.

Lots of people choose to prepay their funeral or have a funeral insurance plan in place. However not a lot of people I have spoken to have planned anything to do with the ceremony itself. Is there music that is special to you that you would like played? There are so many options and sometimes these decisions can be hard for the family in their time of need. There can be a lot of pressure on the family to plan a funeral the deceased would like, however often people think it morbid to consider what the deceased would have liked/disliked at their funeral. For example when planning my stepfather’s funeral there were certain songs we knew he would have wanted, however there was other, more appropriate music to consider as well. As a result a selection of music was played over the PA system and in addition my sister sang a few songs.

I tend to think that favourite songs can be something that is often too personal. Unless you have previously told people what songs you would choose.  Many people talk about songs they want to have played at their wedding, often compiling a huge list, however when it comes to a funeral the subject can be somewhat cringe-worthy. Some people decide they want a funny song or a song that reflects their personality at their funeral.  My sister in law has said for many years that she wants ‘My Humps’ by the Black Eyed Peas played at her ceremony – even her kids are aware of her song choice. My husband and I have on occasion talked about songs that we would like played at each other’s funeral. My list changes often, one that is on my husbands list is ‘Knocking on Heavens Door’ the Guns ‘N’ Roses version.  My mother in law had a list of songs she wanted played at her ceremony; we played them all and were happy we were able to fulfil her request. A number of her choices were not songs most would choose for a funeral. On occasion if one of the songs come on the radio, it brings a tear to my eye, bringing back fond memories of her and her funeral.

I spent a lot of time on a photo slideshow for my stepfather’s funeral; I tried to include the majority of the family, hopefully to bring back fond memories of him. The funeral directors mentioned that the photos were beautiful but the slideshow may have gone on for too long. When I explained our intention for the photos to run for the entire service they wondered if we had run this by the celebrant prior to the service. The funeral director was quite shocked when I told her that I was the celebrant conducting the service – it was what my family wanted. I felt surely the wishes of the family should outweigh what any celebrant prefers; she tried to tell me that people might be too distracted and not listen to what I was saying. I felt however, if everyone wanted to look at the slideshow rather than listen to me, it was entirely up to them. The guests could decide on what was best for them, helping deal with the death of a loved one and begin the healing process.

Would you ever plan your funeral?

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Filed under Ceremony ideas, Funerals, Life

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