Talking with a loved one about their funeral plans can be a difficult conversation to have at any time, but it’s something we recommend you do sooner rather than later.
If arrangements are left until after the fact, you might find yourself faced with several difficult questions, and the one person who could have answered them is no longer with you.
- Did they want to be cremated or buried?
- Where would they like to be buried/have their ashes scattered?
- Would they have preferred a religious or humanist ceremony?
- What sort of music should be played?
- What’s the dress code for the day?
- Would they have wanted flowers?
- Would they have liked donations to a particular charity made in their name?
Knowing these answers in advance can make a stressful and emotional time a little bit easier — and help you arrange a meaningful goodbye for your loved one.
Here, we explain why discussing funeral wishes matters and share three important benefits of pre-planning a funeral with a loved one while you still can.
Why does talking about funeral wishes matter?
Having a plan in place can give everyone peace of mind that your loved one’s exact funeral wishes will be carried out. However, asking your partner, parent, or relative how they would like to be laid to rest is still a difficult subject to raise.
According to the SunLife Cost of Dying report, only 0.3% of people knew all of their deceased loved one’s funeral wishes. Meanwhile, 18% didn’t know any of their wishes at all.
As these numbers suggest, not enough people are talking about funeral arrangements in advance with their loved ones, and understandably so. It’s a challenging topic to bring up out of the blue.
Yet, if you know the benefits of funeral pre-planning and make your intentions clear from the outset, you can help your loved one choose how they’d like to be remembered.
3 benefits of pre-planning a funeral with your loved one
1. You can organise a personalised celebration
When you discuss your loved one’s funeral wishes, you can help them plan a service that’s meaningful to them and their life. For example, perhaps they’d like a nod to their career or personality through the music or dress code. Or maybe they’d want a reference to their hobbies and passions during the eulogy.
Ultimately, knowing their preferences can make a sad occasion feel more like a celebration of a life well lived.
2. It can relieve stress over finances and family conflict
Pre-planning a funeral can remove a great deal of stress and worry regarding money. When you know what your loved one wants to happen on the day, it eliminates the temptation to make unnecessary purchases (for instance, flowers when they wouldn’t have wanted any).
Having their wishes noted down also reduces the possibility of family conflict. Without a plan, there could be disagreements over what your loved one “would have wanted”.
3. You’ll have clarity during a difficult time
There’s a long list of things you need to do in the hours, days, and weeks following a death. The amount of forms that need filling in and people you need to inform can be overwhelming. And when you throw funeral arrangements into the mix, it can all become a bit too much — especially when you’re grieving.
However, if you’ve pre-planned the funeral with your loved one, that’s at least one thing you’ll have complete clarity on. All of the guesswork is taken out of it. You don’t need to think about what they would have liked. They’ve already told you.
You simply need to act on their wishes.
“The best gift you can get from an older loved one this year is a plan for when they’re gone. And the best final gift you can give them is to follow it as closely as you can.”
— Elizabeth Hancock, Managing Director, Fulford Nursing Home.