Simple Direct Funerals

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Do you have to do everything a person requests for their funeral?


Sometimes when a person dies, they have a list of everything they want to happen for the funeral. It could be as comprehensive as the type of flowers, music, people talking at it, and so on. These people are planners – obviously. And there is nothing they like more than making a list to make sure everything is sorted beforehand.  Naturally, there are those who have no list, no requests. “Do what you like,” tends to be their wishes.

As a minister, I had families who were very concerned about doing everything a person wanted for the funeral. Sometimes this was easy, and other times it caused a few headaches.  So are there any hard and fast rules regarding the wishes of the person?

Legally, there is nothing to enforce their wishes. A family is free to follow or ignore the instructions. Of course, people want to honour the person, and following their wishes is a final way of doing this. But it is not binding in any way.  And in some cases not following their wishes is honouring them better.

In talking with families, I encourage them to let the person’s wishes guide but not dictate what they want to do.  Because ultimately the funeral isn’t so much about the person who died – I know that sounds strange.  But the person who died won’t be bothered about what happens.  I know this sounds disrespectful to the person – but it isn’t.

The funeral is about people saying goodbye. And so, for some, it meant a few changes to the funeral plans. Perhaps they decided not to follow the wishes of letting a thousand balloons float away at the gravesite because it was not only hard to manage, but they also didn’t like the thought of where the popped balloons ended up.  Or perhaps it is ok for a certain person to be invited (or not).

People can have all kinds of wishes, and achieving them may sound nice at the time, but later it just doesn’t feel right.  Sometimes this can cause conflict within the family or friends because of the way they interpret the person’s wishes. Some may want to follow them exactly, while others feel it was more a suggestion. So be careful not to let things get out of hand.  Look at the bigger picture.

Funeral wishes are not like a will, where a lawyer dictates who gets what. It is up to families if they want to everything a person asks. There is no hard and fast rule. So be guided by your discussions with the family. Focus on what is important to you all and what will be meaningful.

Funerals are not like they used to be. There are so many different ways to say goodbye. This is a good thing because people and families are different. So how we say goodbye should reflect this. Some will want a church service with a favourite hymn. Others may want a karaoke night. There is no right or wrong way.

So in conclusion, there is no legal requirement to follow a person’s funeral wishes. A family may choose to do this or they may change it a little or a lot. What matters is celebrating, mourning, and remembering the person in a way that i

Balloons release