Over at Going Gently, John raised the subject of funerals. The comments were so long and varied that I decided to do a post about funerals.
I find it hard to understand why funerals seem to be thought of as either sad or a "celebration of life". I think every funeral I have ever attended was both a celebration of the deceased and sad for the people attending. Just the fact we remember a person implies a celebration of them (unless I suppose we really didn't like them and then it probably becomes a celebration of them being gone).
Smart, subdued clothing is what I choose to wear to a funeral. It just seems respectful. If there was a request for colour/ flowers/ summer dresses/Hawaiian shirts I would honour it. One way to support the remaining family is to honour their wishes.
Funerals are for the people who are left behind so when friends or acquaintances of mine say they don't want a funeral I get annoyed that they want to deny me the opportunity to follow a ritual I know and value, a way of feeling that I have said Goodbye properly.
Funerals might be for those left behind but when the wishes of the dead person are flouted quite intentionally it makes me throw up in my mouth just a bit. I know of two people who expressed wishes to be buried in a particular spot and were buried in other locations.
After my own death, I have instructed my children not to spend any more than necessary on things like cars and caskets. If they want to spend money remembering me they can spend it on a good meal or nice flowers or building toilets in refugee camps. I like the idea of burial. I like the idea of having a gravestone somewhere to mark my life but at $14K to $20K for a Sydney grave site, well cremation is a much more practical alternative and I'm good with that.
A cardboard coffin sounds reasonable to me but please no tacky decorations on it, no writing on it, no generic pictures of sandy beaches. A wicker basket or a shroud are also acceptable alternatives.
I would like a Christian service with traditional hymns but if I live an average life span, I'm afraid there may be no traditional hymns left. The venue for my funeral might need to be decided by my family. My own church is one choice but sometimes the chapel at the cemetery or the funeral parlour works well.
As I reflect on what I have written here I realise my non-negotiables: there must be opportunity for people to pay their respects, it should be a Christian service with some singing and I would like some flowers somewhere. My bodily disposal should be done as sustainably as possible and nobody should feel obliged to spend money they don't have. If the non-negotiable flowers have to be stolen from around the neighbourhood then the thief should try not to get caught. The finer points are not my business and will most likely depend on the circumstances at the time. If everyone feels they have closed a chapter and are able to move forward, my funeral will have served it's purpose.