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Planning your own funeral

Although it may be uncomfortable, planning your own funeral is becoming more common and can relieve family and friends of difficult decisions at a stressful time. It can also help you come to terms with your own mortality as well as helping family and friends celebrate your life in the way you would prefer.

Here are some questions you might like to consider:

  • Do you want to be buried – and, if yes, where?
  • Do you want to be cremated – and, if yes, where?
  • Do you have any wishes about how your body should be prepared for burial or cremation for example, are there any special clothes you would like to wear?
  • Where would you like your ashes to be scattered?
  • If you want to be buried, do you want to name the people you want to carry your coffin?
  • Where would you like the funeral to be held?
  • Is there a specific faith leader or other celebrant you would like to conduct the service?
  • What music would you like played?
  • Are there any poems, prayers or readings you want included?
  • Are there any specific people you would like to do readings?
  • Do you want family and friends to wear black or something special?
  • Would you like family and friends to make a donation to a charity of your choice rather than sending flowers?
  • Would you like family and friends to have a party afterwards? If so, where?
  • Do you want a memorial service – and, if yes, where?
  • Is there anyone you want your family to make sure they invite?
  • You might also want to speak to an independent financial adviser to ensure there is enough money to pay for the funeral. For a complete guide to funeral finance, see ‘Funeral budgets and costs’.

Making your wishes known

An easy way to make your wishes known is simply to write them in your Will, although this is the only part of a Will that is not binding. You should also make a separate copy of your wishes in case the Will is discovered too late to organise your funeral.

An alternative is to write them on paper or in a file or folder you keep on your computer. The Dying Matters Coalition   has a leaflet called My Funeral Wishes on which you can record your instructions. You can download this from the National Association of Funeral Directors    (NAFD) website (pdf).

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you save your wishes somewhere safe and easy to find and tell someone close to you where they are.

External websites

National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)   – My Funeral Wishes (pdf)

This page is for general information only. It's not intended to replace any advice from health or social care professionals. We suggest that you consult with a qualified professional about your individual circumstances. Read more about how our information is created and how it's used.

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