It’s still too big an ask for many people to feel comfortable talking about things to do with death but some are going further than that and with a diagnosis of terminal illness more people are putting in place their own funeral services as their final act of love for family and friends.
Follow their example
Today I was saddened to hear that a remarkable woman I met recently to plan her funeral had died. I left my meeting with her a few weeks ago with a clear set of hand written instructions for when I will conduct a celebration of life service in her memory. It was our second meeting because she had changed her mind on a couple of aspects since we had last spoken.
The unapologetic and honest motive for sorting out her own funeral was in her own words ‘to take back some of the control.’ Making her wishes known was also, she said, her way of protecting her family from having to make decisions when they may be upset or not thinking straight.
Benefits of advance planning
Making your last wishes known in advance can help to prevent conflict or worry which may come about from second guessing what you would have wanted. Typically there can be a five – seven working day timeframe from the time of death to holding a funeral service. This is a busy time when the bereaved can find they are having to make decisions and sort out financial, practical and legal matters.
It can be helpful for the person/s making the arrangements for a funeral to have clarity on key aspects like:
- Burial or cremation
- Music choices
- Flowers or no floral tributes
- Donations in your memory for a good cause
- Style/format (traditional formal or not)
- Poetry or readings.
Key milestones in life
For the preparation of tribute words it can be immensely helpful to have a record of key milestones and achievements with dates.
If easier set out in chronological order important details from date of birth and education to working life, family members, hobbies and achievements. This will help with the accuracy of what is said at the funeral.
Where to record your final wishes
Remember having a written record of what your final wishes are is only useful if you have told the appropriate person where you have kept that record so it can be retrieved promptly when the time comes.
Some may prefer to stick to handwritten instructions stored with important documents like Wills and Grave deeds etc in a secure container or with a third party like an executor/lawyer/wills storage facility.
An example of a ‘virtual’ contemporary alternative is www.onceivegone.com
Plan up to a point
A word of caution though – it is important not to stipulate every detail or aspect of your funeral because your family and friends may wish to express their love or pay their respects with their own contributions or ideas. Participation in the planning and actual funeral service activity can have therapeutic value for the bereaved.