Remember the other day when I mentioned that a colleague had asked me some questions in relation to planning a funeral. At the time I didn’t really know what to say however early the next morning I jotted a few things down, printed out some order of services and then put them all in an envelope for her. I hope they helped her. I know she got them because there was a note jotted on the faxed timesheet she sent in thanking me for doing it.
So what did I write? Here are my tips for anyone planning a funeral:
- Don’t be afraid to lean on anyone to help you do this
- If you have the opportunity to ask your loved one what they want at their funeral, do so.
- Do your best to accommodate their wishes
- Arrange for someone who knows your loved one well to do the eulogy. It is so much more personal than having the funeral director do it.
- Be prepared for the person doing the eulogy (or any other speaker) to crumble and have someone prepared to stand by and help them out.
- Make sure all speeches etc are written out so that someone else can step in and finish if they need to.
- Think about having an ‘open mike’ for those attending so that they can share their memories also.
- Play some of your loved one’s favourite music. At one of my brother’s funerals, his coffin was carried into the chapel on his surfboard whilst Surfin’ USA was played. At my baby brother’s funeral, there was an eclectic mix of music that reflected his life.
- Try to incorporate the wishes of immediate family as much as possible
- Keep in mind that grief can turn some people into real asses.
- If the opportunity arises to have the service videoed then do it! It helps in the grieving process. And also the day passes in such a blur that things are often forgotten. The video helps.
- Don’t be “steam-rollered” by funeral directors. Stand your ground on your wishes (as long as they aren’t unreasonable).
- Consider whether you want an open casket prior to the service beginning.
- Consider dressing your loved one in their favourite clothes. (We dressed my little brother in his Parramatta Eels jersey).
- Think about the wake. Do you want to have a big wake for everyone afterwards or maybe just light refreshments in the chapel grounds or hall and a quiet family ‘wake’ afterwards.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for the flowers from the top of the casket after it is all over. These flowers can be given to someone or shared amongst the family members.
- Consider placing a nice framed photo of your loved one either on the coffin or beside it during the service.
- Don’t be pressured into spending more on a casket than you can afford.
I know that this type of post is a little odd but death is an unfortunate fact of life and at some stage or other, we will all face dealing with loss and planning the goodbyes for a loved one. It helps to have a list compiled by those who have done this before to get you through.
So have I missed anything? Or is there anything else that I can add to my list?