Why Design your own Funeral

The funeral should alter its image. It should give new perspective. It should treat itself more like a wedding.

That may sound irreverent. That may appear careless.

It doesn’t have to.

After the death of a loved one, survivors understand what they ‘must’ do. They must go to a traditional funeral provider and go through the conventional motions for the deceased. The common opinion is: dwelling on one’s own funeral, or going so far as to plan it, is morbid. Surviving family should must do it.

They don’t have to.

Funerals and memorial services exist for the survivors. As grievers, these survivors are often too emotional and vulnerable to quickly plan what is in essence an event. This is dangerous ground on which certain service providers can become predators.

The argument is that weddings are just as overpriced, just as conventionally ritualistic, just as plagued by money-hungry predators. But anyone planning a wedding has the options of time and resources. And the money-hungry predators are a given. Somehow, monetary indulgence is less of a tragedy when it’s for a long-awaited celebration.

Not to imply that memorial services and funerals cannot be celebratory. But generally they are more somber than most weddings. Sadness at permanent separation is natural, healthy. Those at the center are not likely to approach the event with happy anxiety.

To suggest that an individual plan his or her own funeral is nice in theory, but often not possible. How can society personalize after-death rituals without demanding morbidity or impracticality?

Education. If young students familiarize themselves with human death through books and discussion, parents speak openly about their own losses and the process of dying itself is less hidden behind thick hospital walls, people will grow up seeing death as another part of life. As clich as that sounds, it doesn’t always happen.

When people age with the certainty that they too will die, and that it’s not only natural but necessary for the sustainability of human life, they can begin to view their own funeral as a personal event, like a wedding. Although the deceased will not be there, the memorial can serve as a form of self-expression.

Similar to planning a wedding, designing a memorial requires answers to questions of message, food, music, flowers and the comfort of guests. But the goals are to use these elements as a part of the grief process. The self-expression should be done with a mind to what the mourners will need.

Planning one’s own funeral can be as simple as a few notes relating important points. It can be as elaborate as a big church wedding as long as one bears in mind the cost to survivors. Whichever the desire of the individual, if it is made clear beforehand, a large burden will be lifted from the shoulders of the grievers.