Tag Archives: songs

Not having a funeral

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My Nan passed away recently and decided that she didn’t want to have a funeral. I can understand this to a point. I assume she didn’t want people spending money and she didn’t want a fuss.

We still had a family gathering, we still shared our memories and we still looked at photos of her throughout the years. We spoke about things we remembered and my Pa asked my cousin to sing ‘I Will Always Love You’ (Whitney Houston/Dolly Parton). I had prepared a little something to say. I wasn’t sure if there was going to be anything said and the celebrant part of me would have been really upset if others spoke and I hadn’t written something for the occasion.

It got me thinking and, I think more than I did before, that the funeral isn’t so much for the person that has died. Yes it is ABOUT them, but it isn’t FOR them. It is for the people left behind, heart broken, lost and grieving. It is about having a time and place to come together and to talk about this wonderful person that was a big or little part of our lives.

For me it is a time to reflect on the life that they had and the wonderful things that they did. The last few family members that passed away I have conducted the ceremony, so for me it’s very different than attending a funeral. I think that it is a really valuable time to even learn something about the person that you didn’t already know, even people that you have known all of your life. Other people can share stories and their memories and that way you can always learn something about people.

I’ve also blogged about planning your own funeral in the past and raised some questions about the details of your funeral and is that something that you would think about. Would you choose songs? Poems to be read?

Do you think it is part of the grieving process and seeing what they meant to other people helps with realising that they will not be forgotten? Every time I go to a funeral people always say how lovely it is to see people that they haven’t seen for years and that they wish it was under happier circumstances. I got to see cousins that I haven’t seen for around 20 years and cousins that I see every couple of years. I loved that part of it. It’s not the happiest of occasions but these are the people that see you at your worst. There was a lady who was there and I recognised her the instant that she walked in the door although I hadn’t seen her since I was a small child. It was one of my aunties oldest friends.  I think a funeral teaches us a lot about family, and friendships and love.

What do you think? Do you think it is important to have a funeral? Or don’t think that it matters if you have one or not?

 

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Considerations when choosing your special day

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There are so many things to consider when choosing the date of your wedding. Many of these are obvious like the availability of many providers that you will need to make your day fantastic. It needs to be a day that you and your partner choose and that you hope all of your nearest and dearest family and friends can attend. There is a lot that you have to book, you need outfits, a photographer, the celebrant or church organised, the venue, food, drink and numerous other obvious things that you NEED in order to make your day what you want it to be. These are all very important but they are not the topic of this blog post.

It is the little things that make these considerations important in my opinion, and you may totally disagree with me and feel that it is YOUR day and as the happy couple you can do whatever you like, but…

I don’t only spend a lot of time talking to people who are getting married, I spend a lot of time talking to those close to the happy couple and their guests. The considerations that I am talking about are:

* When is the actual date of the wedding?

It may seem silly but what time of year is your wedding? I recently spoke to a friend of mine getting married this year and she was telling me of a friend of hers, who share a lot of close mutual friends, booked their wedding in  the 2 weeks before my friends special day. They even have friends that will be in both bridal parties. Not only was my friend a little annoyed, (very understandably as her wedding date was announced first!) she was more concerned about the friends that they shared. Will they cope with the costs involved of having two weddings so close together? How will events like hens days, kitchen teas, or bridesmaid duties all go, being around the same time? Will those people in both bridal parties be over it all by the time my friends special day comes around? A similar thing happened to my closest friend and she was worried about all the families that would have to travel. She changed the date of her wedding, just so that it didn’t put financial pressure on the family to travel great distances to attend both weddings.

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* Who is involved?

Think about other people just a little. I don’t mean this nastily, I mean think about the people that might really want something to do in your wedding but who are too polite who to tell you how to run your day and request that they be included in some way. The may be involved as simply as asking their opinion on certain parts of the ceremony. For example, continuing family traditions or starting new ones. I have a couple of blogs about Accessories with Special Meaning, and Selecting and Honouring People in your Wedding. Your wedding is about you, but never underestimate what a small gesture can mean to very special people in your lives.

 

* How will certain things make people feel?

Think about Children that may need to be included,  about all parents rather that just the brides family in the asking. Think about how would your brother feel if he is the only sibling without a job to do throughout the day? Would having a song that you love at the wedding that one of your friends recently had at a family members funeral affect that friend? ( I have attended a wedding where this happened, the bride chose a song for when they were leaving that one of their friends had at her fathers funeral a few weeks before, she ran out of the room in tears). Little things that some people may think don’t matter. Some things that you can talk to people about and other things that just have to be ruled out because it is just the right thing to do.  Don’t mention the battle with cancer that someone is having directly, but maybe acknowledge that person in a special way in the service without drawing attention to them obviously.

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* Where people are seated?

Again I have written a blog about this, you can read it here. But as much as it won’t really affect you on your day, it is nice to consider how the dynamic will be at tables and be mindful of sitting people with people they will be comfortable with.

I could write about these topics all day. These things are not vital to your day running smoothly, and as I always say your wedding should be about you and your partner, and reflecting your personalities. Saying that though, I do think with a little thought, lots of little heartaches can be avoided and people will feel very special to be included in your day. Some of these things will never be known to anyone too, but you can then take comfort in knowing that you have done as much as you can to take the stress off as many other people as possible, which in turn can take a lot of stress off you.

Has this sort of thing happened to you, or have you been to a wedding  where people blatantly didn’t think of how their actions would impact others?

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Thank you again to Kirralee for her beautiful photos on this blog. I’m so looking forward to working with her in a few months time, check out more of her work on her blog and on her facebook page.

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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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