The Revd David Cloake writes…
I wonder if you are reading this because you have that huge task directly ahead of you – organising a funeral for a loved-one. It is rarely easy and is a massive responsibility to carry when you may never have had to do this before. . I wonder if you are reading this because you haven’t the first idea where to begin, but have an overwhelming sense that ‘I have to get this right’.
The simple truth is we will die too. This means that eventually, someone (and if you are lucky, it will be someone like you) will have to think hard about the funeral service that you will inevitably need. Again I say, for every person living there is a funeral that will need planning.
Recently, I was asked to arrange a funeral by a wonderful pair of daughters whose mother had died at the not-inconsiderable age of 92 (and five days). I had visited their mother a few days before she went to be with God, and among the other things we talked about, I raised the subject of the funeral. Then the good news emerged – rather like Chairman Mao, she has prepared a Little Red Book (referring to her that way made her smile, for reasons I won’t trouble you with here)!
The fact is, in her Little Red Book she had written down every scintilla of every iota of every jot of how she wanted her funeral to be carried out. What a profound gift to her family that was. Before her death, she was a devout and longstanding Christian who regarded her own death as ‘going home’ to wait for the Resurrection. The funeral was designed therefore to mirror her own belief and she was in the best position to guide our hand in sending her off.
It is not morbid and fate-testing to PYO: Plan Your Own. Mine is written because I am a strange cookie and would present many challenges to Mrs Vicarage when the day comes. I received that Little Red book as a gift from the dear soul. The truth is, it made her funeral a genuine and authentic celebration of who she was in life. It removed the pressures from her daughters who could send their mum off properly. It was a great help to this vicar, who wants to serve the family in the best way possible.
When you have finished arranging the funeral that sits before you now – and you have my prayers and best wishes as you do that considerable thing – and when the dust settles, remember how you feel now and what you can do to help those who will do the same for you sometime: PYO – Plan Your Own
Take sometime to think through what you would like. Talk to your friends and family about your ideas and let them have their say. They may well have something special to add to the plans. When you have finished the write your plans down… and tell someone they are kept!
You may like to see the resources for funeral planning here. You may also be interested in our GraveTalk resources that you can see at gravetalk.org