Planning A Funeral?

Funerals are happening every single minute all over the world; each funeral having it's own personal imprint and private touches to honor those that have died.

There has been an inordinate amount of headline news recently regarding planning a funeral. 

Nelson Mandela died peacefully at the ripe old age of 95. His funeral planning must have been a lofty challenge for family members with the thousands of mourners and hundreds of dignitaries wanting to participate and pay their respects. 

Paul Walker, of "Fast and Furious" movie fame, who died in a fiery high speed car crash, was honored in a private family-only service in Hollywood, protecting his young daughter from the intrusion of the media, while thousands of his adoring fans paid tribute to his  life at his crash site.

Japan's Emperor Akihito announced to the world his funeral plans which will forever be remembered as a bold move, setting an example of how to save space, time and costs for the rapidly growing elderly population in Japan. Akihito is planning to be cremated and that will "end a 400 year burial custom of the world's oldest monarchy" according to international news sites.

So what are your funeral plans?

While you may not be a handsome movie star, or an emperor of a country, or a Nobel Peace Prize winner, you certainly are a special individual and your family will want to honor you in a way that honors your life and represents who you are and what you mean to those you will leave behind.  

Here's a list of things to consider when planning a funeral:

  • First decide if you want to have a funeral service or a memorial service.
  • Consider making arrangements, and possibly pre-pay, with a funeral home.
  • Who do you want to officate the service?
  • Who would you like to eulogize you?
  • What scriptures, readings, or prayers do you want? 
  • Do you want a wake? calling hours? viewing?
  • What, if any, music you would like shared?
  • What kind of flowers do you like? Do you want flowers?
  • Where do you want to have the service?
  • Do you have family funeral traditions you wish to include?
  • Do you want a reception after? If so, where?

Clearly there are similarities in planning a funeral as there are in planning a wedding, or birthday party celebration.

Nelson Mandela's funeral is a great example of all the details that are considered when planning:

1. Who was responsible for planning his funeral? (if he didn't already plan it)

2. In what, where and how was his body to be transported?

3. Who was going to be invited? Who is going to attend? Where does everyone stay?

4. What to do about the weather? security?

Indeed, 12,000 members of the South African National Defence Force were put into service just for the security piece alone! And don't forget about the 4,000 journalists...

When you think about Mandela's funeral plans, you must feel greatly relieved that you and your family will not have so many, seemingly overwhelming, tasks to attend to. But there are still a lot of tasks!

Start a list of ideas, wants and wishes. You will be doing your family a favor and your "send off" will be personal and memorable with your input.

My list starts with music. What is on the top of your list?