We’re told to be responsible and make plans, in advance, for the end of our lives. Leave clear funeral arrangements, which include what we want said, by whom and in what way. This is good advice, as long as you remember that your funeral is about you, but it isn’t for you.
I visited a client recently who asked me to help them plan a remembrance service for their partner who died, because there had been no funeral. The partner had expressed in his Will that he wanted his body cremated with no fuss and no service. No doubt, he thought this was sparing his loved ones the pain and stress of organising everything. Sadly, he also deprived them of the need to grieve his passing; a process that is different for each of us, but often starts at a life celebration, or funeral service, as friends and family get to say their goodbyes.
Leaving clear instructions about what we want to happen when we die, is a useful and sensible thing to do, and here-in starts the problem. When we die, those who love us are feeling pain and loss, they are often ‘holding it together’ for the sake of others and they are not feeling useful or sensible. They are now the ones who need to be looked after; not you. I know, that sounds a little harsh, but it is those who mourn our passing who would benefit the most from deciding how to honour us and what they want to include to help them grieve.
What do your loved ones need from your funeral?
When I meet with families to start planning a life celebration, they often start by talking about the type of service their loved one would have wanted. We work together with the Funeral Director, to ensure those wishes are met wherever possible. I then ask the family what they want included, what they would like to help them gain comfort, remember a special moment, express their love and their sense of loss. They have often not considered this and they all tell me how much this impacts their ability to start grieving.
I believe it is important that we all talk to those we love about what we all want when we die. A conversation like this doesn’t have to be painful or difficult; it can be about joy and remembering the good things. Whilst we don’t like to imagine our nearest and dearest no longer being with us, knowing that we’ve talked about how we can find comfort and support gives a sense of peace to many couples and families.
Is a ‘no-stress’ solution actually what your loved-ones need?
There are several services available to us when we die, that offer a ‘no-stress’ solution at a price that appeals to people who don’t want a financial burden placed on loved ones. Please, consider carefully a couple of key things before you take this approach:
- Every Funeral Director I have had the privilege to work with has helped bereaved families through every singe step of preparing for and honouring those who have died. They are some of the most caring and professional people I’ve worked with in my entire working life. The idea that they will rip-off your family when you die is scare-mongering. Always choose your Funeral Director based on recommendation and check with your GP practice if in doubt; they will know who to go to.
- Talk to your loved ones before you put this kind of arrangement in your Will so that they can have their say. Let them tell you what will help them when they are mourning you passing, and it might be possible to accommodate everyone’s wishes.
- ‘No-fuss’ means different things to different people, and if what you mean is ‘I don’t want you to have to go to any trouble’ this is about asking friends or family to help with arrangements so that no one person is bearing all the burden. And remember that the Funeral Director will be supporting them and organising much of the detail.
I am pleased to have been able to bring some closure to my client. We prepared a beautiful celebration of life ceremony together and shared a service in a place they loved to walk together with friends and loved ones. Their grieving started that day, and I saw many tears shed, many hugs received and many words of love and hope shared.
If you would like to start having conversations with those you love about making plans for when you die, take a look at this blog I wrote about how my husband and I approached the subject.
From my heart to yours,