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By checking the will you will find out about some specific instructions. What music do they want? Do they want to be buried or cremated? Then what? Do they want something special to happen at their funeral? Be informed – check the will.
Realize that you aren’t alone on this journey and you can share the burden of the arrangements and grief together. You can quietly go about thinking of who can help with music, readings and everything else. Don’t make it complicated by involving too many people – a small team will do it.
In most countries it is a requirement to have the legal death certificate before the funeral can be held.
Because there are so many practical considerations to think about – use a professional in the form of a Funeral Director or undertaker to advise you. They’re also familiar in dealing with grief and will help you through this process. Last but not least – there are specific legal requirements for funerals the funeral directors can guide you on.
Price check the funeral services like you would any other major purchase. Funerals aren’t free and you need to take into account any financial implications that are involved. Do your homework.
The funerals that I’ve been involved in have usually had refreshments and a chance to gather at the place of the funeral. I’ve found this to have a double benefit – no one is being asked to drive while they are distraught and many will stay if they simply have to go to another room. This is also a chance for people to catch up, the funeral may have bought people together from a long time ago. Ask the funeral home if they can cater it (for what cost – ask!) or if you can cater it. Do your homework.
Don’t spend all your energy organizing the funeral without taking time out for just you – to mourn, to grieve. Keeping yourself busy may be helping, but waiting until after the service isn’t the answer either.
Even the most harmonious of families can have tension and arguments under this level of stress. Ask your family for feedback and advice as your go through the processes – but in the event of a confrontation or disagreement - introduce a third party such as a funeral director if you have to for advice. Yes – this piece of advice is gold – remember it!
I’m going to speak from personal experience again on this one. We had a celebrant lead our funerals for us (she was so good for my Sister’s service – we had her do my Father’s as well) and she found out a lot about our Loved one’s and put together the most perfect collection of messages, both with funny stories, humbling stories and with highlights from their time with us.
We wanted to make each funeral a celebration of their lives, about the mark that they left on us. We chose several close friends and us as siblings and children spoke at respective funerals.
At the end of my speech for my sister (which I was crying uncontrollably the whole way through) I got everyone to stand up. You see – my sister LOVED the Theatre – and at the end of a brilliant performance – people stand and applaud. Well – my sister was a career teacher and with over 400 people at her service – she had completed a brilliant performance – so we stood and gave her a standing ovation. I think it was a fitting end to the service. Don’t you?
Think about how you can make your service as unique as the person you’re celebrating.
Last but not least – you need to try and create the right mood at the service – to represent the Loved One. It’s OK to wear bright colors if that’s what your Loved One was known for. What about the readings, where do you source them from? What do you think would be perfect? Are they words from a song? A quotable passage from a movie? A Scripture or Poem? Don’t forget to ask your Funeral Director or advisor for support on this – they’ve done this before.
Music – I’m all about the Music – from the time when people arrive, get seated, until the time the service starts, the music needs to be just right. Is it a collection of favorite songs? A reflection on the person you’re celebrating? Are you showing a collection of photo’s at the same time while waiting? What about during the service and you put together a slide show – what music will be perfect for this? If you’re not sure – ask your advisor. They’ll ask the right questions to allow you to get just the right answers and make it perfect.
The effort you make on these points will have people come to you and congratulate you on a wonderful and inspiring celebration. It is both a humbling and gratifying experience – that your Loved one has been duly celebrated.
Bruce Hultgren was suddenly affected by the tragic loss of his Sister in a plane crash in 1999. Since that date, Bruce has dedicated his time to helping the millions of people around the world who meet these emotions on their journey. Dealing with Death, Funerals, Grief and Dying. Now an accomplished writer on the subject, Bruce has started the FuneralMemorials website to help families celebrate, remember and go through this most trying of times together. He has also discovered a gift to write heartfelt verses that can be found in his PocketAngels range.
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