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Outside-the-Box Funeral Planning....

Funerals are a generally touchy subject - and it is a HUGE subject.... Casket or cremation? Somber or celebratory? Flowers or no flowers? Can I go to the wake, but not the funeral? What do I wear? Should children attend?

Each of these questions require attention, but what I want to address here is how to create something that is not the standard - something people do not expect. A big party, an unusual location, combining religious traditions, green burials - these are only a few possibilities. I know people who have made very UN-traditional and wonderful choices.

Obviously, part of the issue is the personal pain involved - those attending may be truly and deeply suffering. How to alleviate that suffering differs widely amongst mourners - often in the same room. But if you are planning an unusual service, keep these things in mind:

  • Many people feel that a somber occasion is the only option - it isn't. Keep your mind open as to what the deceased might have wanted (if they left no instructions), as well as what the guests expect.

  • If you do something out of the ordinary, warn people ahead of time, and let them know what is expected, and also that it is okay if they choose not to attend.

  • Sometimes it is the deceased themselves who have made requests in their wills - let people know that, too.

  • Some may judge - some may attend for the purpose of judging - these things happen. If you are clear in your purpose, do not let it deter you. Keep those who support you close, and enlist their help to tactfully explain your choices, if you do not feel up to it.

  • If you plan a Life Celebration that is party-like, perhaps create another opportunity at another time for folks who wish for something quieter.

  • Finally, don't forget to take care of your own health in the process - even something planned can be exhausting and it will hit you harder later if you lack food, water or sleep.

Whatever you choose, traditional or different, these are tough decisions sometimes. Be gentle with yourself and your heart, and know that you do not have to make perfect choices right now. Do the best you can and take things one minute at a time.

If you ever need support or guidance on this difficult subject, do reach out.

You are not alone.



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