Why it can be helpful to express your funeral wishes when you know you are reaching the end of your life
Learning that you have a life-limiting illness or terminal diagnosis requires many adjustments in the way you think, feel, and communicate with your friends and family. In time, one of the things you may start to think about is how you would like to be remembered and the kind of funeral you want.
We have helped many people in this situation to start thinking about their funeral choices and prepare themselves to talk to those closest to them about their wishes. The feedback we have had, both from the person who is expressing their wishes and those making the funeral arrangements, is that exploring and making funeral wishes is a positive experience for everyone involved.
Here are some of the reasons why people tell us they have found it helpful.
It allows them to talk more openly about what is happening
Some countries and cultures around the world feel much more comfortable talking about death than we tend to in the UK, where there is typically fear and avoidance around the topic. Broaching the subject of your funeral wishes can overcome some of these barriers, trigger meaningful conversations and help those closest to you to overcome their own fears. People tell us that these conversations can feel liberating and create a closeness and understanding that would not otherwise have been possible.
It gives them time to consider what is possible
Almost anything is possible when you are arranging a funeral and there are very few rules that must be followed. When we talk to people about their wishes, we encourage them to think about the things that are important to them. By introducing elements that reflect their interests and personality, the whole occasion can become very unique. We believe it is important to give people the space to explore what they want and to guide them gently by letting them know what is possible. Sometimes the conversation can take a surprising and uplifting direction which might only happen with this time and space to explore.
It can be a gift to those making the arrangements
When we are supporting people to arrange a funeral, we are deeply aware of their desire to fulfil the wishes of the person who has died. If the person had a conversation with them before they died or left written wishes, it is almost like a gift to those making the arrangements. Fulfilling these wishes is very consoling and can help with the grief process.
It gives peace of mind
When you have made the big decisions yourself and have set out your funeral wishes, you have peace of mind that everything will be done as you would like. This can be particularly comforting when you know you are reaching the end of your life. You are leaving nothing to chance. People tell us that they often feel a great sense of relief when all the decisions have been made and shared, either in writing or verbally.
There is time to plan
We understand how beneficial it can be for people to express their wishes and for others to know that they are doing things in the way they would want, and we offer free support to people who want to discuss their funeral wishes with us. There is no obligation to use us for the funeral.
We are here to provide information and gentle support to help people make the choices that are important to them. Our funeral specialists are sensitive and experienced. They will spend time supporting people to think about the type of funeral they want and the choices available, making it as easy as possible for them to create the funeral they want.
If you would like to talk to us about expressing your funeral wishes, please email [email protected] or call us. If you work in a sector where you support people who may benefit from expressing their funeral wishes, we have resources available. Please get in touch.
You may also be interested in reading about Mandy’s funeral wishes and how she found it helpful to explore what was possible.
Read our blog: How a funeral can be made more personal