Tuesday 17 August 2021

Planning Your Own Funeral in the UK

Tips to help you think through and plan for your own funeral, so you don't have to leave that task to a loved one
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

I know that many people don't want to think about death and funerals. For them, these are just sad and morbid times that only need to be considered as a necessity. However, for me, as a Christian, I'm not scared to think about dying and I know that the best is still to come.

Of course, all funeral planning will involve some sad moments as it means you have lost someone or that you're thinking ahead to a time when you may leave loved ones behind. It's always those left behind that death is the most devastating for. With that in mind, I want to be able to plan my own funeral and take away any stress from my husband or children when it becomes time for my funeral to be planned.

I don't want my funeral to be another burden to add to the list, and I don't want them to have to think they have to create something big and fancy to say goodbye to me, so I hope that in laying out some plans of my wishes, they will feel free from the obligations that can come with this life event. 

I'll share my tips for the things you need to think about and consider when leaving instructions for your own funeral. 

Think about what is important to you

There are so many things to consider, like do you want a burial or a cremation? Is there a particular resting place where you'd like to be laid to rest? Do you want a large funeral and wake? Or just close family and something more personal? Should it be a religious ceremony or not? Is there particular music to include? Do you want to make a video reel to be shown? Should people wear a particular colour, or donate to a charity in memory of you? The list goes on and on. 

Take some time to have a really good think about what is important to you and also what is affordable to you. You might also want to speak to those you love to get their input so that whatever is planned can be a truly collaborative effort and be as heartwarming as a funeral can be.

For some people, it isn't important to have lots of people or a big party afterwards and they would prefer a simple option, like direct cremation and this is OK, every person is different and should be able to choose what suits them and their loved ones.

How formal will you make your plans?

You can, of course, just put all your wishes into a word document and save them for the future, or you may wish to go one step further and actually meet with a funeral director and firm your plans up for when they are needed. Many funeral arrangers such as Heart of England Funeral Care allow you to specify in a plan what arrangements you'd like and then you can pre-pay and however much prices rise before your funeral, you won't be charged any extra. This is such a good idea, as funeral costs have almost doubled in the last decade and are set to continue rising. There are all sorts of payment plans so you can spread the cost over a number of months or years, so talk to your funeral planner to find out what is right for your circumstances. 

How will you communicate your desires to your family?

You'll need to decide if you will share your decisions and desires with your family once you have decided the arrangements you'd like for your funeral service. This is quite a big decision as some people may not take well to hearing about you planning for your death. You may choose to just log your wishes with your solicitor or with a funeral director and to just let your family know they can access your pan and wishes once the time has come. Or even just leave a document in a known place within your home or on an accessible laptop/ storage drive, as long as you have a harmonious family and don't foresee any arguments arising at the time.

Tips to help you think through and plan for your own funeral, so you don't have to leave that task to a loved one

Making Your Plan

For now, I have just gone for the simple option of putting together some instructions of what I would like and these are kept with all the important documents in our home. My husband and oldest child know where they are. 

It didn't actually take me long at all to write down what I wanted and just as importantly what I didn't want but I have peace of mind now. Here are my wishes at this time -

  • To be cremated as this is the cheaper option and for my ashes to be scattered somewhere close to where my family are living at the time. If we are still local, then at the top of Ladyspring Meadow under the cross at Ashburnham Place. 
  • I don't need to be dressed in anything fancy and I'd like my jewellery removed and given to my children.
  • I have no preference for a coffin and I am happy with a value option. I do not wish my coffin to be taken to the church for the funeral service.
  • I'd like there to be a service at my church, Beulah Baptist, led by our Minister Dave with a lively and joyous theme, celebrating that God is good. Dave and my husband to choose the bible readings.
  • Worship should be led by Braam and Chris and I'd like each of my children and husband to have the opportunity to choose a worship song they love and I'd also like Cornerstone, Oceans and O Praise the Name. I'd like Karline and Krisha to read a prayer or reading. 
  • I'd like there to be a wake afterwards to celebrate my life and remember me but this is to be a casual sort of affair. Tea and really good cakes would be apt as that is what I love and it should either be held in the church hall or at Ashburnham Place.
  • People should feel free to wear whatever they'd like to, not dark colours or hats unless they are things they love. 
  • I'd love people to be able to write small stories or memories of me in a book for my children to be able to keep. 
  • I don't want funeral flowers donated by anyone. There should be some pedestal flowers in the church to match my wedding flowers with stargazer lilies, pink roses, white carnations and freesias. 
  • People may donate money to Christian Aid in my memory if they'd like to.
Please do not feel overwhelmed, putting together your plans and wishes for your funeral doesn't have to be a cumbersome or morbid task. I actually quite enjoyed thinking through the different elements and I believe it will help me when I need to plan a funeral for someone I love. 

If you need more help

There are loads of great resources out there to support you as you make your wishes known for the arrangements for your funeral. 

Dying Matters have a simple form you can complete and leave with your family that share all your wishes.

Marie Curie has a good article to help you prepare and poses numerous questions for you to consider.  

Church of England guidance for all aspects of funeral planning. 

Age UK Funeral planning fact sheet.

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Tips to help you think through and plan for your own funeral, so you don't have to leave that task to a loved one

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