How to tell your family your wishes for a funeral

Have you ever lost a loved one, then been stuck trying to remember their favourite kind of flower, their favourite song, or whether they wanted to be cremated or buried? 

It’s a tough situation for anyone, let alone someone who is grieving. That’s why it’s so important that we make time to think and talk about these things – even though it probably doesn’t come naturally. Community Law has also suggested some other tasks you may need to consider for the day.

Sure, it’s hard. But it’s also one of the best gifts you can give to your loved ones after you’re gone, as it means they won’t have to agonise over those decisions during an incredibly difficult time. 

Which wishes? 

Here are the key wishes you should let your family know:

  • whether you prefer burial or cremation
  • who should be notified of your passing
  • where you would like to be buried
  • where you would like the service to be held
  • any songs or readings you would like at your service
  • any particular flowers or other arrangements you would like for the service
  • whether you would like a religious ceremony or not
  • if you have any special requests for an after-service (you can even ask for a Mr Whippy visit if you like) 
  • if you have a preference on casket material
  • if you would like a green funeral 
  • what you would like to be buried in (a favourite dress, suit, or even your comfy PJs!)
  • how you plan to pay for your funeral costs, such as with savings or if you have any insurance such as funeral insurance.

Also consider adding a note to say that your family shouldn’t fuss about the minor details, or things you haven’t made note of. It’s easy to get caught up and stressed when trying to get the details just right when planning a funeral for someone else, so it’s a kindness to let them off the hook somewhat by saying ‘you know, just whatever you think is nice would be lovely!’

How to make your wishes heard

Normally, you make your wishes when you blow out your birthday candles, spot a shooting star, or free an ancient genie. In this instance however, it’s going to take a little more effort.

An in-person conversation is a wonderful way to share your wishes. It lets your loved ones know that you have made all of these decisions ahead of time, so should the worst happen, they don’t need to try to figure it all out alone. It will also give them a chance to ask questions, and perhaps fill in any gaps in the plan you didn’t think of. You can find some guidelines on starting the conversation here.

That said, be sure to also write them down so your loved ones have a record of everything. Ideally it will be a very, very long time before those wishes are put into place, so it’s easier to be able to refer back to those wishes than try to recall them.

If you’re uncomfortable having this conversation right now, that’s ok too. You can either put all of your wishes in a sealed envelope and pass it on to the most reliable of your loved ones, or even leave it with your lawyer with your will.

And of course, don’t forget to check back in on your wishes occasionally. You wouldn’t make the same wishes with a genie now that you did when you were 10, and the same goes for funeral preferences – they may need updating every now and then!

If you’re unsure about the part where you leave instructions to pay for it all, don’t forget the option for funeral insurance. With a monthly payment, you can ensure your funeral is covered, and that the cost doesn’t have to come out of your or your family’s savings – even the ice cream truck.