If I could have one superpower, it would be to click my fingers and know all about your loved one who has just passed away so I could create the best goodbye possible while you relax at home. I have assisted on funeral arrangements and watched families crumble at the large shiny desk with a jug of water and box of tissues separating us. It took all my strength to stop myself from leaping across to hug them, promising I will take care of all the arrangements. Just go home and rest we will see you on the day of the funeral.
At the arrangement, big questions are asked which can be painful when you have lost someone dear to you. Mind clouded, the last thing you want to do is answer so many questions. Today I will provide you with a few ideas to write down to take with you to the arrangement. You may feel you have all the information you need as you drive to the funeral home, but I know too well, the moment you sit down and the funeral director offers his/her condolences, everything you had in mind will disappear.
The most recent funeral home I worked at, we had a wonderful in-house florist. I found it touching that she provided the funeral director with a checklist for the family to fill out prior to creating the floral display. Using this list of hobbies and passions, the florist brought to life the deceased’s personality through flower petals. Just like the flower artist’s checklist, here are some topics to have ready for discussion with your funeral director.
What clothing would you like your loved one to wear for their final farewell?
Ask yourself, while Dad may look strapping in a suit, did he prefer wearing shorts, enjoying a cold one while fishing? I have often dressed people in their hobby clothes from football jerseys to tutus. Feel free to provide a can of beer. We call it One For The Road.
Would you like a newspaper obituary?
This is a great way to invite friends of your loved one to the service as you may not feel like making all of those phone calls while embarking upon the frightening grieving process. Again, I wish I could do all of this for you and pour you a whiskey so you can relax. 😦
Are there any group activities that would be appropriate to personalise the farewell?
I am blessed to have been apart of some unforgettable funeral services. One that has stayed with me was a simple graveside service. There was no celebrant or priest, the son conducted the funeral himself. On closing, he offered everyone, including the funeral directors, a Drumstick. I thought he meant the drumstick from a chicken, but as he retrieved an Esky from the back of his car, I realised he meant the ice-cream cone. As the sun belted down upon us, we all slurped at our Drumsticks. Apparently his late father had a deep freezer at home and was never seen without one in his hand.
What music would you like to include in the service?
Music is an integral part of life for many people. There is no rule you have to play a somber, tear jerking tune. Did your loved one enjoy Elvis Presley? If appropriate and you feel it won’t offend, why not play a little Rock ‘n’ Roll? One of my most memorable moments in death care was pall bearing to The Rolling Stones.
Are there any decorations you might like to use to personalise the service?
Its lovely to create a tribute centrepiece, like a memory table of photographs. I was apart of a service for a young BMX rider and the chapel was decorated with bikes and helmets.
When the service has concluded, there are some formalities you also need to think of. The executor will be responsible for notifying companies following the death, particularly where there are outstanding accounts for example:
- Telephone, gas or electricity accounts.
- Government departments.
- Insurance companies.
The death of someone close to you is incredibly overwhelming yet the one time you need to think of so many things! I hope mentioning the points above can help you focus on the wonderful life they lived. You just focus on what brings your loved one alive into the room one last time and we will take care of the rest.