How to plan your own funeral

how to plan your own funeral

Four minute read

There are many reasons why you might want to plan your own funeral. We’re always ready to talk openly and listen carefully whenever people come to us to discuss their wishes. Inspired by these conversations, we’ve gathered some points to consider if you are starting to plan your own funeral.

Why plan your own funeral?

It may be that planning your own funeral is a way of coming to terms with a terminal diagnosis or accepting that death is coming soon. Discussing what you would like for your funeral can help you feel in control and enable you to focus on what matters most to you.

For other people, there are very practical reasons to plan ahead. It might be out of a desire to take pressure off family members or friends, or because you realise that leaving things unclear could lead to family conflict or differences of opinion.

Or you may want to support other people in planning their funerals. Thinking through your own ideas and wishes is a good first step in understanding how you can support the people close to you.

1. Focus on what matters to you

We find that most people have considered whether they would like to be cremated or buried, even if you have not told anyone else yet. This includes thinking about where you might like to be buried or would want your ashes scattered.

The content of the ceremony is also important to many people, in particular the words and music you’d like to be shared and the person you’d like to lead the service. You might have strong views about this or prefer to leave it to family and friends to decide. You might decide that the kind of coffin you’ll have or what you’ll be wearing in your coffin is important, or this may not concern you at all.

If values of sustainability and caring for the earth are close to your heart, you might also want to consider eco-friendly options.

These decisions are all very personal. Different things will matter to different people. It’s up to you to decide what you would like to plan, and what you would prefer not to. There is absolutely no pressure to plan everything down to the last detail.

2. Leave space for the people you love

Knowing your wishes can be very helpful for family and friends, especially if you are able to talk them through together. However, they may need something from the funeral which you have not thought of, or which isn’t important to you. They may also want to show their love for you by contributing to the planning of the day.

While many people want their funerals to be joyous and celebratory, and don’t want to think of their family and friends grieving for them, it’s important to leave space in the funeral to acknowledge their very real grief.

3. Talk it through with someone you trust

This does not have to be a funeral director, but a funeral director should be able to provide a friendly, yet professional, ear.

They should not be shocked or surprised by anything you say, and will be able to answer any questions you may have, for example about how your body will be cared for after death. A funeral director can reassure you that, yes, what you’d like to do is possible. And they can make creative and practical suggestions, based on their experience, to help turn your ideas into a realistic plan.

You can have these conversations with a friend or family member there to support you, to listen and to write things down, or we can record your wishes for you. Death cafes and coffin clubs are also great places to learn more and talk with others about funeral planning.

Read our interview with the founders of north London coffin club about why coffin clubs are catching on.

4. Write it down for your friends and family

These can be hard conversations to have. Your friends and family might not be as ready as you are to discuss funeral planning and may not want to think about the details. This is perfectly normal and understandable. However, we also find that these conversations can be wonderful opportunities on both sides to share something deeply significant with the people you love.

Whatever your situation, make sure your wishes are written down, physically or electronically, and left where your friends and family know where to find them. They don’t have to read them in advance, but they do need to know where they are.

Read more about why one family held a funeral planning party and how to do more for yourself when planning a funeral.

Do get in touch if you want to find out more about funeral planning or to talk with us about planning your own funeral. We are always ready to answer questions and to offer support.

Discover more articles