Coffee, Cake & Death - can you plan your own funeral?
The 11th of October 2016 saw the second death cafe at the Dojo Coffee House in Swindon. The event was organised by Sue Holden who is a Grief Recovery Counselor and Specialist. It might sound a bit morbid, but death is a certainty and in my line of work, I have to talk about it all the time.
This is not normal for many of my clients. Writing a Will is like facing up to your own mortality and can be quite a difficult thing to undertake. This is one of the reasons why I support the Death Cafe and enjoy attending the meetings.
SHOULD WE HAVE FUNERAL PLANNERS?
This is one of the questions we raised at the meeting. It seems only right that we have wedding planners to organise one of the biggest events in our lives, but what about our funerals? Would you know what to do if a loved one passed away? What are the practicalities, who makes the decisions, and what decisions need to be made? Funeral directors can be very helpful and help you with many of the practicalities. Celebrants may also help and provide support and advice. However, who brings it all together? How do you decide on a venue for the wake, should you have one, how many people will attend? How do you cater for an unknown quantity - as we discussed, you don't want to run out of wine or sandwiches! Your funeral is your final ceremony, your send-off, your day and don't you want it to go well? This is why some of us thought it would be a good idea to have a Funeral Planner, someone who can organise all this for you. I think some do exist but even I'm not sure!
PLAN AHEAD WITH A LETTER OF WISHES
You can actually plan your "big day" when you write your Will. For example, you can state whether you wish to be buried or cremated. Or perhaps you want to donate your body to science. You can also specify where you would like your ashes scattered. In addition, or instead of putting this all in your Will, you could write a "Letter of Wishes" that can be kept with your Will. In this letter to your Executors (the people who deal with your affairs when you die), you can detail as much or as little as you want about your funeral. In the past, I have had clients who have specified which Church they wish to be buried at and have perhaps already secured a plot. They have listed songs/hymns and readings that they would like and even the dress code! It might seem a bit much but, from my experience, it makes life a lot easier for your loved ones when the time comes and they know they are carrying out your wishes.
THE NEXT DEATH CAFE WILL BE HELD ON NOVEMBER 8TH AT 7 PM
It's not all doom and gloom. We laugh, we philosophise, and most of all we break down the taboos surrounding death and help each other to talk openly about what is, for most people, a difficult subject.
For more information about Sue Holden: www.lossandgriefrecovery.co.uk
For advice on funerals: www.pearcefuneralservices.co.uk