Most people have a list of things they would like to achieve in life and plan for the good times. Few think ahead to the day that comes to all of us when we pass away. It can happen suddenly or over a long period of illness, but death is inevitable. Despite this, few people take the time to plan their own funerals. However, thinking ahead about how you would like to be celebrated and remembered is the only way someone else is going to know what to do when the time comes. Here are some key things to keep in mind as you begin planning your funeral.
Decide on the Type of Ceremony
One of the first things to do is to decide on the type of ceremony you want. Traditional options are a burial service in a religious building or a cremation. However, non religious or humanist funerals are becoming increasingly popular. There are also sea burials or scatterings and environmentally friendly options. For those who served in the military, a connection with the armed forces is something to think about. Or you can make plans for your own unique service that is a reflection of your life, personality and last wishes.
Funerals can be private with just a few close family members and friends or a more public affair. Some people choose to do both by having a larger, public thanksgiving service after a more intimate ceremony for immediate family only. This option works particularly well in sensitive situations, such as when young children have lost a parent. A smaller private ceremony can be less overwhelming, and the thanksgiving service is more of a positive celebration of a life.
Think About the Service
A funeral service is an opportunity to reflect on the life of the deceased and to share some favorite things. You may have particular hymns or music you want included in the ceremony. Poetry and readings are popular at funerals as well, and you may want to leave suggestions of favorites or pieces that have special meaning. Start making a list of anything you specifically want to include. Don’t forget to ask friends or family by name if you would like to have them read certain passages.
The eulogy deserves special attention in the planning process. What would you like people to say? How do you want to be remembered? You could write your own and have someone read it at the ceremony or ask someone else to write it based on your suggestions. Or maybe, you’d rather it be a more relaxed atmosphere where anyone who wants to can get up and say a few words. If you’re not sure, think about especially touching or memorable memorials you have attended and use those as inspiration.
Don’t forget to think about the end of the funeral as well. You may want to arrange for a lunch or tea afterward or maybe just a glass of champagne for everyone and one last toast. Some people like to see doves released, while others prefer balloons.
Don’t Forget the Practicalities
One of the most important things to do is to make a will and appoint an executor who can coordinate the funeral and your affairs. Passing away without a will can leave lots of legal complications for loved ones. It’s especially important if you have children or wish to donate your organs. In this digital age, you may have websites, social media profiles and online banking accounts. You’ll need to leave details for those tasked with dealing with your affairs. Usernames and passwords are a must. You can even arrange for a message to go out from you after you die using websites such as Dead Social. Having a savings account to be used specifically for after-death expenses can also give your loved ones a budget to work with that reflects your wishes. Additionally, most funeral or cremation providers allow you to prefund your final wishes to ensure that your loved ones are left with minimal costs after your passing occurs.
Even with a written funeral plan, there is still plenty of room for misinterpretation, making it extremely important to be as specific as possible. If you want a cremation make sure to stipulate what should be done with the ashes. If they’re to be scattered, provide a list of places. Likewise, there may be a specific location you want to be buried. Some funerals have horse-drawn carriages whilst others use a limousine to transport the casket. If you are a motorbike fan check out the modified hearses used by bikers. There are also designer coffins that can be decorated to your specifications. If you want to be buried in a favorite outfit or with a significant item, write it down in your plan. You may also want to leave a list of priorities in case some items are unavailable or out of budget. If you’d rather have a fancy funeral but are fine with a plain coffin, say so.
Setting out a plan for a funeral can be daunting and scary, but once you have an idea of your preferences, talk with your next of kin. Most people are relieved once the plan is in place and can then move forward to focus on living the remainder of their lives to the fullest.