“Living” Funerals

Dec 16, 2019

A lot of us are moving from standard, religious ceremonies towards personalised ones. This applies to funerals as much as to celebrations.

So you can have a unique funeral service that is very different to what we may be used to.

But did you know that you can have a choice in what will happen in the funeral and what can be included in the service when it’s your turn to ‘pop your clogs’?

Most of us tend not to think about our own death (and the British are very good at avoiding the theme). If we do at all, how many of us inform our next-of-kin what we do or do not want at our funeral?

I get it that people put it off – “we won’t die for years, after all”. And “my family will be able to sort out what happens”.

That’s fine, if you don’t really care about your funeral service. After all, you probably won’t be able to see what happens, anyway. Although we can’t be sure …

The controller

But what if you do care? You could well have strong feelings about certain issues. You may want to stipulate how much religion (if any) will be included in your funeral. You may have favourite poems, readings or music to put in. You may want to prepare a eulogy. (It can always be updated, if you live a long time, but at least the frame will be there as a guide.) You may want to involve family or friends. You might want a ritual (eg roses on the coffin).

Enabling this

If you want to go down that path, you would be advised to work with a civil celebrant. They know what is possible at a funeral, and can advise from wide experience. They are wordsmiths, and can put together the order of service, including the eulogy.

I am certainly happy to pop over to a possible client and discuss their needs and wants, write up a draft (like I normally do), and submit it for approval. (I can also conduct the service on the day, if required, by arrangement.)

The client is welcome to have family members or friends present at the discussion.


The down side of a “living” funeral is that the client is not be able to insist that his or her choices will be respected. There is no legal way of enforcing the stipulations.

The wishes can be put into a will (although there is the risk that the will is not read in time).

The best solution, then, is to ensure that the relevant family members are on board and in the loop. If they know about the choices and are in accord, then the odds are that they will show respect when it comes to it.

The greatest advantage, probably, of a “living funeral”, is that when the time comes, there should be no conflict or extra stress for the next-of-kin. They have enough to contend with (not least, paperwork and grief – their own and that of others) without having to worry about doing the right thing for the deceased.

Just think about it. If the order of service has already been decided and drawn up, what a huge weight off the next-of-kin’s mind that will be!

For a chat how this can work best, please feel free to contact Michael.