It might seem like a grim or even morbid topic, but planning your own funeral doesn’t have to be a gloomy affair and it’s probably more common than you might think. As a matter of fact, the majority of people think planning their own funeral is important.
Rather than leaving it to your loved ones during a time of bereavement, you can decide on the details and have your final farewell proceed as you’d like. Explore these seven steps to make sure you cover everything when planning your funeral.
- Religious or agnostic
Would you like a religious funeral or an agnostic/atheist one? If it’s a religious one, what are the specific elements that you want to have observed? For example, a Christian funeral might take place in a church and feature hymns, prayers, and the saying of certain phrases.
- Burial or cremation
Another major decision is whether you want a burial or cremation. A third alternative is to donate your body to science. With a burial, you choose a coffin and can have your coffin present for the service. You could, alternatively, opt for an unattended burial or cremation with a service later. For a burial, you’ll need a burial plot or preferred cemetery. You can choose in-ground burial, in-ground mausoleum, above-ground lawn crypt, community mausoleum, and more.
You could also look into green-burial options; for example, mushroom burial suits, shrouds, kosher caskets, and green burial locations. With cremation, you could specify that you would like your ashes scattered or kept in an urn with your family. In many cases, your budget could be the deciding factor as burial is more expensive than cremation.
Consider whether you want a viewing or not. A viewing gives your loved ones a final chance to spend time with your body, whether this is at the funeral home, church, or other location.
- Funeral director
Generally speaking, the funeral director works with your loved ones to plan and coordinate your funeral from start to finish. He/she will play a crucial role, so you could interview a few so you can choose your preferred funeral director and funeral home.
- Budget and funeral insurance
Define your budget and consider whether you need funeral insurance. If you already have a policy, list the details in your funeral plan so your executor or loved ones know how to claim through it to cover the costs of your funeral.
- The funeral service
Funeral services often take place in churches, crematoriums, or homes. But you can opt to hold your anywhere you’d like, from a pub to the park or a beach. Also, consider where you’d like your wake to take place. This could be your home or elsewhere.
Other details relating to your service to specify include:
- Type of service, whether that’s a traditional ceremony or a memorial after an unattended cremation or burial. You could also opt for only a graveside burial service. In some cases, people choose to have a celebration-of-life service, an upbeat, joyous commemoration of your life, as opposed to a traditional, sombre funeral service.
- In addition, specify any personal touches you want to have at your service, whether this is a special song, poem, floral arrangements, or planting a tree at your burial site.
- How will you like your coffin to be transported? Do you have a special preference for vehicles?
- Who will lead your service? For example, this may be a minister, celebrant, or someone else.
- Who will be your pallbearers?
- What photos, if any, would you like to be displayed?
- What type of catering would you like to have served?
- Special requests like people honouring your memory by donating to your favourite charity.
- Specific guests or organisations you’d like to invite to your funeral.
- Clothing and accessories you’d like to wear for your final viewing or resting
- Preferences for markers or headstone
- What you’d like covered in your obituary
- Writing your eulogy
Writing your own eulogy can be a gift to your loved ones and friends since you’re saving them from worrying and agonising over the right words by which to memorialise you. You can take the opportunity to reevaluate your life, remember the positives, and share what you learned in life. You’ll also want to thank everyone who had a major impact on your life.
Keep in mind a eulogy is usually up to 10 minutes in duration, and you’re having your last conversation with everyone gathered. You can write in the first person. As an alternative, you could record yourself delivering it so it can be played at your funeral.
- Store your plan with your will
Once you’ve set out your plan, keep a copy with your will. To be extra safe, give another copy to your executor or a family member who has agreed to follow your funeral plan as instructed.
While it’s not something you’ll be excited to do, planning your own funeral offers a lot of value for your and your loved ones. Pre-planning means you can decide exactly how your funeral will proceed. It also saves your family from extra stress – both financial and emotional – and second-guessing what you’d have wanted during a time of grief.
Cover key elements like the type of service, burial or cremation, and details of your funeral service in your funeral plan. Finally, don’t forget to leave at least several copies with those who will be in charge of fulfilling your final wishes.