I’ve always felt that it’s important to be open about death, after all, it’s not something that any of us can avoid. Planning for the inevitable shouldn’t be a taboo subject, and when my parents emigrated to Spain over fifteen years ago we talked quite openly about what would happen when it’s time to say goodbye. The conversation was very important, especially as the whole funeral process over there is so different to what happens in the UK. Again, when I got divorced over ten years ago I realised that I needed to think about my own arrangements and make my parents and brother aware of my wishes. Whether you’re planning ahead with a Funeral Plan, talking about your wishes or just about the future in general, really is no bad thing.
I’d spent over twenty years with my ex, he’d been fully aware of my wishes, but when he was no longer there, I realised just how important it was for me to take control. I didn’t find it morbid at all to discuss what I’d like for my own funeral plan. I knew that it would make a difficult situation a little easier to cope with if there were clear instructions to be followed, and those left to deal with my funeral would know exactly what I would want.
Obviously, things have changed again, I’ve remarried and had my son. But my idea of having plans in place for my funeral still remain.
I see no point in a long procession of funeral cars and an ornately decorated coffin. Why on earth would I want money spent on something that’s going to either rot away or be burned? I watched a programme recently that featured a company where you can actually decorate your own coffin. I think that’s a great idea and my best friend and I have talked about having a coffin painting party.
But in reality, I think I’d prefer a cardboard coffin when the time comes. When we lost her partner in 2019 that’s what we sent him off in, no fuss, no-frills, just practical. I was rather taken aback to discover that they aren’t actually much cheaper than the wooden ones though!
When my oldest friend’s father died, his coffin was wrapped in a photo and it was beautiful. Rather than just making everyone cry, it made us all smile. We shared memories over that coffin, in a way I’ve not seen done before. It’s a wonderful idea.
Would you want lots of flowers at your funeral? As much as I love them, I always think it’s so wasteful to have lots of flowers at a funeral. It’s a very personal thing, and I respect others will feel differently, but for me, all I’d like is a couple of white roses. I’d much rather a rose was planted in a garden somewhere where it could be enjoyed when it’s in bloom and as a moment that could be spent remembering me (hopefully fondly!) each year.
Music would be key for me, but blimey, how hard is it to pick just a couple of favourite tracks! When we lost a dear friend over twenty years ago, his parents asked us to pick the music for his funeral. It was an honour and it’s something that’s stuck with me all these years later. The songs that we picked made us smile and cry then, they still do now. It’s also made me realise that I’d need to pick songs that would mean something at different points in my life, a song that I love and will mean something to my oldest friends, will mean nothing to my son. I want happy songs, I’d like to leave happy memories. So let’s have me arriving to Walk Like an Egyptian, please. That will have my bestie in tears of laughter, remembering our dancing days. My son and I have spent many a long drive singing along to Shake it Off, so hopefully, that would make him smile too.
The service itself, what and where? It’s a tricky one, but I think I’d be happy with not having a church service and just a crematorium service. I always thought I wanted to be buried, but I’m not so sure these days. I do know that I want a plaque, or something, a place where my son can go if he needs to and knows I’m there. I’m not one for having their ashes scattered in a field of remembrance but I think I’d like a few ashes scattered in the lake at Stowe from the white wooden bridge we’ve walked over so many times.
As for a wake, nothing fancy, just friends and family together remembering that I was an ok sort of person would be nice!
Even with quite conservative ideas, I’m sure that the costs will still mount up and I’d like to think that that burden would be handled for my family in advance. It’s certainly something we put in place for my Auntie when she went into a care home last year and something my bestie had put in place before her father died last year. It helped her at a very emotional time.
Do you talk about plans for the future openly? And before my parents start to worry that there’s something I haven’t told them, don’t worry, I have no plans of going anywhere soon but planning for the inevitable shouldn’t be a taboo subject!