Gransnet forums


Funeral Wishes

(10 Posts)
grumpsy Tue 26-Jul-11 11:22:33

The 'Memories' thread interested me because I work as a Civil Funeral celebrant and, when talking to bereaved families, I find they rarely know of the early memories of their parents or grandparents. It seems such a pity that we don't pass those memories down to younger members of the family. For me, it's wonderful when the person who has died has actually written something themselves, full of memories and happy recollections. Sometimes these are written just as a reflection, sometimes as a letter to their family. I wish more people would do it as it helps to personalise a funeral ceremony so much better and it rounds out the picture of that person as an individual, reminding their family that they, too, used to be young and sometimes silly!
We are still so much in denial about death - but it's going to happen.
I think it's a kindness and a help to our families if we do something about what will be said at our funeral. I know the families I work with feel very comforted to know that what is said at the funeral is what that person really felt and really wanted to be shared.

goldengirl Tue 26-Jul-11 12:19:19

My father compiled a folder with useful information such as bank and insurance details plus what he would like at his funeral. This included a poem by his favourite poet, William Barnes and his friend who was an expert on WB and the dialect, did a fantastic reading even though it was difficult for modern ears unfamiliar with the words, to understand.

My mother told me her wishes and I'm so pleased to have been able to carry them out apart from interring her ashes. She wants them in a place quite a long way away so that will need planning.

As an only child I feel satisfied that I've done my best for my parents and really should consider now how best to help my own family before the time comes!

groovygranny Tue 26-Jul-11 12:21:16

Agree entirely with you grumpsy. It is so important to record our own memories whether written, video-ed or whatever. If you still have your parents or uncles and aunts, DO talk to them about their memories and record them. How often, when it is too late, do we wish we had asked them questions about their parents and grandparents? We should all label our photos too. How many of us have got old photos of our parents' generation and we have no idea who all the people are, where and when it frustrating?!

shysal Tue 26-Jul-11 13:29:37

I have a folder with everything in it, including a print-out of the type of wicker coffin I want to be cremated in ( brightly coloured). I have requested a celebration of my life rather than a dreary funeral.

sussexpoet Tue 26-Jul-11 14:01:21

About 7 years ago, when staying with a cousin in Florida, I wrote up a brief (and somewhat sanitised) family history (paternal side) for her then 9-year-old granddaughter. I then expanded it, as my cousin - 6 years older than me - had memories that I didn't, and vice versa. When I returned home I went on adding to the history (minus the censorship) and did the same for the maternal side of the family (again with the help of older cousins). After that, I wrote in my parents history: my brother was so impressed by the finished document that he requested copies for all his children: as he said "we are now the older generation and if we don't pass this on it will be lost." I gave copies to all my own children, to pass on in turn to their children.
I could only go back as far as grandparents (mine that is): my mother's parents came to UK from what is now called Belarus and my father's parents from Romania. Records in eastern Europe were not as detailed as in the present day; also, as we are Jewish, most of the documentation that did exist was destroyed along with the people to whom it related. So I say to all of you, write it down - somebody some day will want to read it.
And, a propos funerals, I have put detailed instructions in my Will for cremation with no form of religious observance (I'm a Jewish atheist) and have told my partner (several years my junior) where I want my ashes scattered. Last week we attended the funeral service for a friend, which we felt was exactly the opposite to what she would have wished, lots of pompous religiosity and truly terrible recorded organ music.

goldengirl Tue 26-Jul-11 16:38:50

In between everything else I'm trying to write about the Victorian schoolhouse I used to live in when I was small - the decor, the furniture, where I kept my toys, descriptions of my toys, who I played with and so on. As someone who's studied history, having descriptions of the everyday life of children is not common. The trouble is I have so many projects on the go and now you've got me thinking what I should have for my funeral. I know something for definite; noone must wear black and I want my ashes scattered in my favourite spot. The last resting place of the urn is yet to be decided.

grumpsy Wed 27-Jul-11 07:13:24

Music is the other thing we should think about. I love it when families know exactly what they want - even if some of the choices may seem bizarre ('She Wears Red Feathers and a Huly Huly Skirt'!) they mean something to the people left behind - and inevitably have people leaving the service with a smile. I absolutely agree about pompous religiosity and horrible recorded music but these days there are loads of alternative musical choices that are personal and will strike a real chord with those listening. My own choices of music and readings change by the day!

Many of the ceremonies I lead do include a hymn and/or a prayer but it's entirely down to what the family wants. The main part, though, is the Tribute/Eulogy that focuses 100% on what that person was like, what made them tick, what was best - and even worst - about them. It's then that the 'memory store' becomes so important and, sadly, then that the family often discovers that they remember so little.

Recently I led a funeral where, after her mother died, the daughter had discovered a letter written three years earlier and addressed to her. It was a thank you letter, so very touching, so heartfelt.....and so funny, that her daughter will cherish it for ever, not least because her mother had never really expressed herself so warmly while she was alive.

So I think we should all get writing and leave our memories and wishes somewhere where they'll easily be found once we're not here. It will help our families hugely and they'll be glad to know they're doing what we wanted.

Maywalk Mon 07-Nov-11 15:52:01

Hello folks.
This thread interested me because I am an 81 year old gran who was evacuated from the London Blitz in 1941 to the Midlands when I was nearly 11 after being bombed out twice and machine gunned twice during WW2.

Hubby and I have been married for 61 years and I have already written a book about the first 20 years of my life which takes in my utility wedding in 1949.
I had it put on my poetry site which can be found on my website in the Memories section.

Hubby and I have also arranged our funerals to save our lovely family any hassle and we are having a Natural Burial with Eco coffins.

jonssmith2 Wed 28-Dec-11 08:02:54

Message deleted by Gransnet.

Greatnan Wed 28-Dec-11 08:14:28

I have made a folder with all my financial affairs neatly documented, plus my wishes for a very quiet, inexpensive cremation, if my body cannot be accepted for medical research. Of course I would like any of my organs to be used if they are still viable. My family know how I hate religion so it would be a humanist funeral, like my mother's and brother's were. It is unlikely that all my family could attend anyway, because I will be in either France or New Zealand, unless I die whilst snorkeling in some other exotic location. I have left instructions that there should be no unnecessary expense, such as repatriation, an urn, or plaque. The people who love me will remember me anyway, and the rest don't matter.
I have given my folder to a trusted Swiss friend, who could deal with my affairs if I died in France.
I believe that once you are dead, it is like a lamp being switched off - I have no belief in any kind of afterlife, and I really don't care what happens to my body.