How to talk about death and funeral planning
Have you talked to your loved ones about what kind of send-off you would want? Almost two-thirds of Brits say they would find it ‘very stressful’ to arrange a funeral without knowing what kind of funeral their loved ones wanted, leaving them with nagging doubts about whether they “got it right”. So, while it may not feel comfortable, tackling the subject will make a real difference to your family when the time comes, and there are immediate benefits for you too – taking control feels great!
Why Do We Avoid Talking About Death?
Over the last few years, younger people in Britain are getting better at talking about death (particularly their own), but the older generation are still putting off the conversation time and time again, until it’s too late. It may be difficult to get family members to talk, especially if they want to avoid the topic, but it’s much better than leaving them to second-guess your wishes when you’re no longer there.
At Pure Cremation, we understand that funerals are an uncomfortable thing to talk about, so we want to change the conversation. Make it one about life, memories and expressing what makes you unique.
Decide on the Best Approach. Casual or Formal?
Many people desperately want to give vital information about funeral wishes to their family, but of course, it can be upsetting for kids (of any age) to think about Mum or Dad not being there anymore.
It’s important to remember that you are trying to have “the chat” because you care about them…so they can show their love by listening to your thoughts on something that really matters to you.
There are different ways to do this and you’ll know what will work best for your family.
Purposeful and direct – I’ve invited you all here to discuss my funeral wishes, I know it may feel a bit strange and difficult at first, but you’ll be glad we did.
You can serve your favourite or “signature” food, play your chosen music and display items (and photos) that are significant to you.
Soft but direct – I’ve been thinking about my funeral wishes and I’ve made some decisions. You can find my instructions in the drawer over there…but I’d prefer to talk them through, so you can ask me about them.
Indirect – I went to a funeral recently and it was exactly what I would/ wouldn’t want for myself.
Spontaneous – what fabulous music/ flowers / food / wine, I’d love that at my funeral…Let’s write that down.
Or even – did you see that “no funeral” advert on TV??
In our experience, beginning the conversation can take effort, but after that things quickly move on to memories, important shared moments and laughter.
Put The Conversation in a New Context
It’s always going to be easier to get them taking about your LIFE rather than your death. Friends and family only see the bits of your life that matter to them, so talking about hobbies, work, friendships, faith, travel and relationships can give your nearest and dearest a more complete picture.
Even the youngest can contribute to the topics of “Favourite things“ and “Happiest times”, turning the whole subject into a chance to grow closer.
Make It A Two-Way Dialogue
You could say that a funeral is actually for the living, so the ideal farewell will be a balance between what you want and what your family needs.
Giving clear guidance is incredibly helpful, but it’s even better to explain your choices and listen to the reaction, especially if you are going for a non-traditional option such as direct cremation.
A focus on what makes you special and the best way to express that helps to place proper emphasis on the emotional aspects of a funeral. These are far more important than the mere ”mechanics” of cars and coffins.
This should lead to a lively discussion about the mood you want to create for this goodbye (celebrating or grieving), where you’d ideally like people to gather to share memories, whether you feel that the coffin is just too depressing or an essential part of proceedings, and the resting place that you consider to be your “heart’s home “. Wonderful ideas can emerge, including things that you wouldn’t have thought of.
A New Kind of Funeral
Many people report that funerals are depressing and impersonal, and it’s true that funerals have remained almost unchanged for the last 200 years. Why?
By avoiding this challenging topic now, we’ll naturally default to the easy and familiar choices when faced with the enormous stress of bereavement.
So, if you don’t leave instructions and never “have the chat” you’ll probably get a traditional send-off with big black hearse and 30 minutes at the local crematorium, led by a celebrant who never met you, and the bill will be just over £4,000.
There is far more choice out there than people realise, and it is a real shame that the typical funeral formula has such limited scope for personalisation.
A new style of funeral, based on direct cremation, is gaining popularity as more people discover the freedom it offers when it comes to saying goodbye to someone special. Direct cremation allows you to separate the practical part of a funeral (the cremation itself) from the emotional and ceremonial elements, which allows you complete freedom to create a remembrance event that truly reflects your life.
A direct cremation takes care of the practicalities quickly and simply, offering a dignified cremation, usually without any mourners present. This gives families the time and emotional space they need to create a farewell that is inclusive, comfortable, and memorable.
So, there’s never been a better time to think about and talk about your funeral wishes. You can find examples of what other families have done here, and we’re always happy to answer any questions you may have about our service. Just get in touch with us today.