What to Consider When Organising Your Own Funeral

As unusual as it may sound, there are plenty of reasons why someone would want or need to plan their own funeral. For instance, many people realise that by taking charge of your own funeral plans, you can relieve some of the financial burden from your family, especially if you will be financing it yourself. Alternatively, planning your own funeral may be a personal decision and can engender a kind of emotional catharsis; the opportunity to have as much influence as possible over how your final farewell will look and the way in which you be remembered. 

Planning your own funeral can be an emotionally taxing process, but it is one that can hopefully bring you and your loved ones a sense of peace; and possibly even prevent unpleasant arguments and problems further down the line. Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can prepare for your funeral in order to make it easier on your loved ones, as well as ensuring your final wishes are granted. 

How Do I Pay for My Funeral Service?

As far as practical measures go, there is nothing more important than financially securing your funeral. With respect to the rising cost of funerals, many families end up going into debt in order to pay for a loved one’s funeral; this can be the case even if a death was expected. However, if you are planning your own funeral, then you can take proactive steps towards ensuring that your family and friends need not worry about the financial burden.

Of course, the budget you decide on will be fully dependent on the kind of funeral you wish to have, and where it is taking place. Typically, burials are the most expensive funeral option because they include the purchase of the plot, as well as other third party costs. Cremations are therefore fast becoming the most popular choice of funeral. 

However, even if you are opting for a less expensive funeral arrangement, you will need to decide on the best method to finance it. Some people choose to use their own savings or life insurance, but one of the most popular forms of funeral financing — especially for the over 50s — are prepaid funeral plans

A prepaid funeral plan does not usually cover the entire funeral; this may be due to additional unexpected costs, or inflation. If you do not wish for your family to shoulder any financial burden, therefore, you can set aside additional savings. 

Be Honest About Your Last Wishes

One of the advantages of planning your own funeral is that, in this way, you can reduce the amount of stress and anxiety that your next of kin may feel when making any needed decisions during the funeral planning process. Far too often, funeral directors witness family disagreements and stress when decisions are being made without the guidance of the last wishes of the departed. Phrases such as “it’s what they would have wanted” may abound,  which can add strife to what is supposed to be an experience of remembrance. 

When you organise your own funeral, you can, in theory, be one hundred percent in charge of any and all decisions made, especially if you are financing it in its entirety. Actually taking steps to make your wishes a reality rather than merely making them known can help to rid your relatives’ minds of doubt regarding your wishes for your final farewell. 

However, as is the case with any family matter, things are not always that simple. Even if you are planning your own funeral and making all the decisions yourself, it is always good to be aware that a funeral is just as much about your memory as it is a chance for those who love you to say goodbye and come together as a group. Because of that, it might be worth considering your loved ones’ thoughts and feelings on any major decisions you make, especially if you know that some members may be upset by them. 

For example, a major personal decision of yours could be to opt for a humanist or non-religious funeral, even though several members of your family are extremely religious. While it is your right to do so, these are highly emotional and personal situations. If there are boundaries that you are not willing to negotiate, being honest with your loved ones about these is advisable, as far in advance as possible. Even if not everybody agrees with your choice, being honest with them reduces the inevitable heartache later on, giving them time to possibly come around and accept the idea before the funeral itself. 

Be Creative With Your Funeral Plans

When you are planning a funeral for someone else, there’s always the stress of not knowing if the experience is too personal, or too traditional, and the uncertainty as to whether it represents your loved one in exactly the right way. Simply put, it’s a very demanding job that comes with a significant amount of pressure, so taking charge of making all the small decisions can take some of the pressure away from your loved ones when the time comes. 

It’s only natural to assume that planning your own funeral is a morbid, depressing and uncomfortable experience. But taking part in planning and deciding the finer details, such as the funeral music, the food, any hymns or prayers you’d like included and even the dress code, can give you that little bit of control over your final moments. Some people even find it an empowering and cathartic experience. Additionally, this can be a fantastic opportunity to ensure that your funeral is not necessarily a sombre affair, but rather a celebration of your life and your achievements. 

Of course, just because you are making your own funeral plans, this does not mean that you need to mandate that all your guests wear fancy dress and order an unusual looking coffin. A funeral is the perfect way and place to remember someone who has passed on, and this is your opportunity to set the tone for how you would like to be remembered by your loved ones.  

Attend Your Own Funeral Service 

One of the reasons why organising one’s own funeral is still such a taboo subject is linked to the way in which we treat death and mourning in general within our culture. Death is often shied away from as a conversation topic and discussing it openly can be seen as awkward and uncomfortable. It is to be expected then that funerals are likewise treated as sad events and as marking the end of something, rather than focusing on the positive aspects of someone’s life. 

However, one of the ways in which people are breaking this taboo is with a practice that is gaining significant popularity in the UK — fake funerals. In theory, holding a funeral before your actual death makes a lot of sense (after all, it seems strange to put time and effort into organising an event that is dependent upon your physical absence), but it is still, understandably, an unusual concept to put into practice. 

One of the saddest aspects of any funeral is, of course, the absence of your loved one. And while nothing inspires people to come up with nice things to say about someone quite like their passing, it can be even harder to hear such things when the person that those words are dedicated to is not there to hear them. In fact, everything about a funeral service seems tinged with the slightest air of “if only”; if only they’d known how many people showed up, if only they’d heard the beautiful music playing, if only they’d heard the kind words spoken. 

Attending your own funeral, therefore, while still an emotional experience, can remove the more lonely and empty feeling that can occur during a funeral service and transform it into a more uncompromised celebration of life and a communal experience of remembrance. 

Those that have attended such events have described them as being emotional, but cathartic and rewarding nonetheless. For the individual that the funeral is held for, this may be the final time that they get to see all their friends and family together in one place, which can bring about conflicting emotions. However, fake funerals directly challenge the expected behaviours that are associated with funerals, not only by confronting the idea of death head on, but by creating a space filled with emotional honesty and gratitude for a life lived and fulfilled.

Considering all the red tape and paperwork that planning a funeral typically involves — especially when it’s your own! — the opportunity to attend your own funeral can provide a cathartic moment where you reap the rewards of all the incumbent emotional and psychological stress. Rather than relying on others to say goodbye to you, a fake funeral offers the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to the important people in your life, in the most authentic way possible.

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We are a family-led business offering funeral services in Essex since 1958.

Please contact us at any of our four funeral homes, Harold HillHainaultHarold WoodCollier Row, for any queries, support or advice regarding the funeral planning process.