A recent report showed that 42% of people in the UK have not made it known if they would want to be cremated or buried when they die. This can leave a terrible dilemma for those left behind. Many people are still not happy to talk about death, but honestly, you would be doing those closest to you a favour.
One easy way into a conversation about your funerals wishes is via music. It’s a place to start. You listen to a favourite album or playlist and say “that’s the song I’d like played at my funeral.” Then see if you can get the conversation to grow. Mine is “Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear” – well that’s my name!
Many people now want a funeral that reflects their life, value and beliefs. Most of us now are unaffiliated to any set creed. We have our own set of beliefs and cultural references, anything from a simple spirituality based on nature, to something around an afterlife, maybe being with those who have died before, maybe some form of reincarnation, maybe a heaven, or perhaps just simply coming to rest.
What are your beliefs? What kind of funeral would best reflect you? If you have some ideas it is worth jotting them down and leaving them somewhere they will be found even if you can’t bring yourself to have the conversation.
Having family conversations about spiritual beliefs, death and funerals can feel awkward at first, but in many cases it is just addressing the elephant in the room. Most people, as the years pass, are bound to reflect on their mortality, and not being able to talk about it can feel lonely.
On our website there’s an ‘Arranging A Funeral’ section where you will find lots of information and ideas. A gentle way to introduce the conversation to someone else is to say you have been looking at this for yourself and talk about a few things. They will probably also start talking about their own thoughts and there you are, you have begun. You will gain a deeper understanding of some of the deep-down things of the other person, which can be comforting and illuminating for both.
It may also take you into thinking about what your choices would be should you become incapacitated. What treatment would you want to receive? When would you want it to stop? There is a good website which addresses these issues https://compassionindying.org.uk/ and which has a printable or online form you can complete to make your wishes known.
My mother had a sticker on her front door which directed paramedics to a tupperware tub in her fridge, in which her wishes about resuscitation and treatment were set out. I heard of one woman who was so determined that she had DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) tattooed on her chest. And she had PTO tattooed on her back! Maybe we don’t need to go that far if we take courage and share our wishes with those around us.