Last week we introduced the idea that you can plan your own funeral, whether you are religious or want a non-religious ceremony.
We looked at the advantages of putting on paper your wishes. This includes stating if you want to be buried or cremated, if that is a choice that is open to you according to your religion.
If you do not want a religious ceremony, give some thought to a venue for your ceremony. Would you want it at your home? Do you have enough room for a group of people? Or is there someone else’s home where you could ask to have it? Or you might consider hiring a venue. You might know of a small hall or a function room at a hotel, restaurant, pub or conference centre.
Cost might be a problem. You’ll need to do some research into hiring and catering fees.
You might even want to say which day of the week you would like to have it and whether you want it in the morning or afternoon.
If you are using a celebrant to conduct the funeral, she or he might advise you on what is practical.
Then decide on who you would like to participate in the ceremony.
If you are going to have readings, you can suggest who could do them, unless the celebrant reads all of them. There is usually a eulogy, where someone pays tribute to you as a person. You might have thoughts on who would be most suitable to do this.
In some religions, there is a collection of readings from the sacred texts and prayers that are used at funerals. Ask to be shown those if this is the case at your place of worship, so that you can choose the ones you want.
If you are not religious, there might be poems or pieces of prose that you have always been fond of. Find them and print them, so that the bereaved don’t have to hunt for them.
If you don’t have any favourites, do some research on the internet. You can search for funeral readings and will discover that there is a huge range to choose from. Remember that is doesn’t all have to be sombre and sad. There are some humorous pieces as well, that might suit your personality and approach to life.
Bear in mind who is likely to be reading. If you have grandchildren who might want to read something, choose writing that will be within their capabilities.
Music is an important element at such a ceremony. You can say what you want to be played while people are coming in. There might be a piece that is played while the chief mourners come in. Sometimes a celebrant will use a piece of music in the middle of the ceremony, in which people will be given a chance to reflect on their relationships with the deceased and what they most valued about the departed. Then there can be a piece of music to indicate the end of the ceremony, particularly if the chief mourners are leaving the room.
The music can be songs or instrumental pieces. State the versions that you want, if that is important to you.
It will be helpful if you can write down a brief life history. This can include when and where you were born and the names of your parents and siblings, if any; where you grew up; what schools you attended and any other places where you were trained; what your interests were as a child and teenager and what your hobbies were as an adult; if you’ve been married, give the details of your spouse and children, if you had any; describe your work life and your friendships; state if you were involved in charitable work.
All these details will be used by the celebrant in creating this celebration of your life.