Advance Funeral Wishes

Losing a loved one is never easy, and having to organise their funeral can be a stressful experience, especially when left without instructions. Many people now choose to let their loved ones know any wishes they may have for their funeral in advance, as this will ease the amount of stress and anxiety during a difficult time.

Here are some things you should take the time to think about if you choose to inform your family about your wishes.

What type of funeral would you like?

How do you want to be remembered? Would you prefer to have a grand funeral, or a quiet service with close friends and family. Perhaps you’d like to have a fun and colourful service to celebrate the joy of life – or maybe you’d find a conservative and respectful funeral to be more appropriate.

Where would you want the service to be held?

This all depends on personal preference. Many people choose to have the service at a church, even those who aren’t religious. Other options include the crematorium or a natural setting like a woodland or field for example. Just be sure to seek permission from the land owner before making the arrangements.

What kind of service would you prefer?

Your funeral service should be an expression of your life and your personality. Now, your family members are likely to know whether or not you practice a religion, but it still won’t hurt to specify the kind of service you want. Some people opt for a religious service, some prefer a spiritual service and others prefer not to involve religion at all.

Who would you like to perform the service?

A funeral doesn’t need to be lead by a religious minister. Some people choose to have a Funeral Celebrant or a trusted friend or family member perform the service. If you have somebody in mind, why not ask them ahead of time?

Who would you like to invite to the funeral?

Some people are more private than others. You may just want your close family at your funeral. You may want friends and family. You might be happy having everyone you’ve ever known at the funeral. Some people also choose to publicise the details of the funeral service online or in the paper so that more people can attend.

What would you like people to wear to your funeral?

Traditionally, people choose to wear dark, smart clothing to funerals. Although black is probably the most common colour, dark blues and grey are also acceptable.

Nowadays, some people like to do things a little differently and may ask their funeral guests to wear brightly coloured clothing as they’d rather the service be a happy celebration of life rather than a sad affair. You could even ask guests to wear clothing featuring your favourite colour if you like – it’s up to you! 

What kind of music would you like at your funeral?

Music is a key part of any funeral service, it is used to reflect the personality of the person who has passed away. Music is incredibly personal and the choices of music out there vary widely. You should be able to have any kind of music at your funeral, though if you choose to have your funeral in a church there may be some restrictions.

Some examples of popular funeral music may include religious songs and hymns, classical music, fun, upbeat music and soft rock music – to name a few.

You could even request live music to be played at your funeral, although this is sure to be more expensive.

If you do have a particular song, or music by a particular band or from a particular album, let your family know.

Are there any poems,  readings or prayers you’d like to have at your funeral?

Funeral poems and readings normally convey thoughts about life, death and grief – but the choice is yours to make, so you could also just choose a reading that has a special meaning for you.

If you’re religious you may want to include a couple of prayers in your service. Depending on the religion you practice, there may already be a certain prayer or reading that’s likely to be included. If you have any questions, or want to learn more about the prayers which are deemed most appropriate, why not talk to a local religious official who you trust.

What kind of flowers would you like to have at your funeral? If any?

Your family may know your favourite flowers already, but if this is really important to you, be sure to let them know! Lilies, orchids, carnations, sun flowers, roses are all popular funeral flowers. Perhaps you don’t have a favourite kind of flower, but would appreciate your favourite colour being incorporated in the decoration, that’s fine too!

Some people choose not to have flowers at all, and ask their guests to help cover the costs of the funeral, or to donate to a charity.

Are there any charities you’d like your guests to donate to?

There are so many charities to choose from and if you do decide to ask guests to donate, choose a charity that’s close to your heart. Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Make a Wish UK and St Peter’s Hospice are just four good examples of charities you could donate to.

What would you like to happen to your body after the funeral service

Most people choose to be buried or cremated after they die, but those aren’t the only options available. Have you considered donating your organs to people in need? You could also donate your body to medicine and help scientists learn more about how they can help other people in the future.

If you do choose to be cremated, what would you want your family to do with your ashes? Having your cremains placed in an urn or scattered aren’t the only options. You could also have your ashes placed inside a coral reef, made into cremation jewellery or even blasted in to space!

If you really care about the environment, you might want to consider having a green funeral and being buried in a natural coffin. You can learn more about green funerals here.

Is there anything in particular you’d like to have written on your headstone?

In most cases, a headstone will have the person’s name, their date of birth and date of death inscribed on it. You may also want to have a personal message or a prayer featured on your headstone. If there’s anything specific you’d like to have included, let a friend or family member know.