Photo Credit – Ben White
Organizing a funeral will never be easy, but it can be something to remember…
There is no doubt that a funeral is one of the hardest things that we will ever have to go through, go to, or organize at some point in our lives. And after attending over 17 funerals myself and helping to organize a few, I put a lot of thought into how many of us feel about them, how we all have different needs, and how the way that we all react can often vary.
One funeral that I was sadly a part of, was for my younger brother Russell, who died suddenly and another was for my mother, who sadly died within 10 days of a devastating diagnosis. I have observed many things at funerals and found that just a little extra thought can make such a huge difference at such a difficult and often unbearable time.
Whoever is organizing or co organizing, undoubtedly, has a really tough job on their hands, because it is so hard to organize something like this, when you are going through such a difficult time yourself.
So, here are a few tips, they are outside of the normal suggestions, that a funeral director will try to cover well enough for you. I hope that these tips will help you to organize a funeral that you and your loved ones will feel, is a fitting tribute to the one who has passed away, and help you to feel at ease dealing with such a heavy and heart breaking occasion…
- . At the funeral service itself, try not to let the nervous ones, who don’t know how to react, or those who are unpredictable, get too close to the ones who are the deepest in grief. It is an extremely hard time when you lose a loved one and some people need the intensity and time to just take it all in, without distraction. One incident that I witnessed, was at a funeral, where a family had lost their youngest brother and a person known to the brother, but not so well known to the family, said to one of the grieving siblings as they were walking behind the coffin, “Smile, don’t cry, be happy!” Of course this was not the right thing to hear or say from someone who was not well known to the family, it was actually quite upsetting. The wake, or after funeral gathering is often the time to be more relaxed, and time to reflect more happily, more at ease, especially, if the funeral atmosphere is particularly heavy, people will need that release.
- . During the service, if possible, try to make sure that those who are especially close to the person who has passed away, are included and if names are going to be mentioned, avoid mentioning just a couple of names from certain generations of the family, as even this type of exclusion can cause a lot of pain at such an emotional time. Most people who attend a funeral want to feel that they mattered, somehow in that persons life.
- . There are funerals that are a huge celebration of life and if the funeral is to be that type pf celebration, try to remember that there will be people in the congregation who find that sort of atmosphere uncomfortable, as they may grieve in a different way. Be aware that they may not feel the same as others and that’s OK, let them be. This is the easier way around, as when it’s a more intense situation, the ones who don’t feel the intensity may stand out more than they wish too.
- . Make sure that there is room at the front for the family and friends who are closest to the deceased in the church or crematorium. It is always hard for people to know where to go, when they walk in, if they are unsure of where to sit it can cause some awkwardness and cause further upset during the sad occasion.
- . Try not to choose the music, eulogy or readings that just YOU want, this is not about you, it is about the person that has passed away. Make sure that the music you choose truly reflects the person who has passed away. If they were not a lover of music, choose something relevant that will help people relate to that person and the ceremony itself. If there are other family members, it would be a good idea to ask them what they think, they may want to feel included in that part of the decision making.
- . Make it personal, try not to allow one person to dominate the event, with their stories, tributes etc, unless you all want that person to take control, others will have loved this person and some of their words and personal memories could add some gorgeous content to the funeral procedures.
- . Don’t be afraid to cry, don’t be afraid to be you, don’t hold it back as it will all come out at some point in your life and a funeral is a time to celebrate their life, but also a time to pay those last respects, emotion and crying is all part of that important and natural grieving process.
- . Make sure that everyone knows the dress code, if there is one. You can make it meaningful with things such as flowers in the women’s hair, for example, if a lady has passed away and she always wore a flower in her hair, it is a lovely thing to see most of the women who are attending the funeral with flowers in their hair, or choose a particular colour that the person loved, a football team, a sport, a hobby, whatever you think that person would have loved or perhaps something they have already told you that they would love.
- . If someone is brave enough to speak, let those or that person speak, a tribute is one hundred percent more touching and meaningful coming from someone who knew them well.
- . Try not to cut the service short, unless you really can’t face it or afford it, it is the only time that you can say goodbye in a place of worship or other in this way, with people who also loved that person around you. When you are able to face looking back to reflect on things, you may wish that you had allowed just a little more time. It won’t change anything, but, in my experience, when looking back you can see things much more clearly and you may wish that you had just had a little longer to say goodbye…
- . When it comes to flowers, personal is always best, say what you want and need to say, it will help with the healing, whether you share publicly or privately, it really will help. There may be someone in your family who just can not afford flowers, a sibling, a parent or a niece. If you order some flowers yourself, it would be so thoughtful to add those people, who are restricted onto the card with the flowers, little things like that can really make a difference to someone.
- A funeral is one of the most difficult things to cope with,
- but with some considered guidance and your loved ones around you, you will get through it and you will help others to get through it too. It will be a fitting tribute for that person who has so sadly passed away, and it will be the funeral that brings you all the comfort that you need on such a heartbreaking occasion and you can make it a memorable one,
- for all the right reasons…
Article copyright Mandy Dineley