If you've recently attended a funeral or will be attending one soon, you're likely going through a difficult time. As you reflect on the memory of the recently passed, it's natural that your thoughts may wander to how you'd like to be remembered yourself. Probably the last thing on your mind, though, is thoughts about your own funeral.
However, when you're at a funeral it's the perfect time to sit back and take notice of all the love — and all the details — that surround you. Take advantage of the time while you're waiting for the ceremony to begin, and remind yourself to make a mental note of the things that speak to you about the funeral, and if there are any elements you would or would not want for your own (hopefully still decades away).
Too often people don't give a second thought to their own funeral preferences, leaving it to their bereaved family to decide. But the family is often left wondering what their passed loved one would have wanted. This is just one of the many reasons why it’s worthwhile to plan your own funeral in advance.
Have no idea where to start? Here are several aspects of a funeral that you might want to start thinking about:
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This may be the most important decision of all. While many people opt for a traditional burial, cremation is becoming increasingly popular. Because cremation typically requires less energy and fewer resources than burial, it is often cited as more environmentally-friendly. Cremation is now even accepted by some religions that once prohibited it, including nearly if not all sects of Christianity as well as Reform branch of Judaism.
How long do you want your funeral ceremony to last? You can keep it emotional and impactful with multiple readings and speeches, perhaps a religious ceremony. Or you may prefer to keep it short and succinct, with minimal fuss. The choice is entirely yours and what you want the attendees to take away from the experience.
Flowers help set the stage, so to speak, for your funeral. Do you want bright, cheery flowers, or ones that are softer and more subtle? Are any of your family members allergic to flowers? Do you want lots of lush bouquets, or a modest presentation? Keep in mind that you don't know what time of year your funeral will be held, so you might want to opt for flowers that are easy to obtain all year round.
As with flowers, music sets the tone of a funeral. Do you want yours to be somber and respectful, or would you prefer more upbeat music, only like a celebration of life? If you want a particular type of ethnic music based on your heritage, do your research ahead of time as it might be difficult to find. Do you want a person or group to sing or play music for the ceremony? If so, does the funeral home or other venue have a piano or other necessary equipment? These are all details you'll want to address.
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It's not uncommon to include readings of inspirational texts, excerpts of books by favorite authors, sentimental poems or letters, and the like. If you decide to include readings, think about what would be most meaningful to you — and to your loved ones. As a favor to them, spare your loved ones having to assign roles by indicating who should do which reading.
If you are a member of a house of worship, it may be assumed that you want the ceremony there or for its clergy to lead the service. To avoid any confusion, you should specify how you want the religious aspect of your funeral to be handled. This is particularly important if you have no religious affiliation, or if your religion differs from that of your spouse or other family members.
When thinking about your funeral, look at it in terms of what legacy you will leave behind. What do you want to be known for after your death? Is it the love you had for your family and friends? Your charitable works? Your contributions to your profession? Your passions in life? You can set all of this yourself with how you plan your funeral (and your burial – including the type of marker or headstone you may want, what the inscription should say, etc.).
Another way to ensure that your loved ones will be able to focus on your legacy and not the financial obligation of paying for your funeral is to prepay for it yourself. It's one of the most thoughtful gifts you could ever give to your family – it makes them not have to worry during their time of grief, and saves potentially tens of thousands of dollars on inflation costs.
To learn more about planning your funeral, download our free burial planning guide today.
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