How to Plan Your Own Funeral

Plan Your Own Funeral - Lunchtime HugPlanning your own funeral details can let your loved ones focus on grieving.
(Photo by Paddie Padderson)

Imagine Your Family Planning Your Funeral

Imagine: You’ve passed away and your family gets together to plan your funeral. Could your family picture looking something like this?:

Your son is deeply religious and wants a minister and a priest to cover all the bases of your salvation. Your sister is into interior design and wants a theme for the colors of the flowers, as well as a hand-carved walnut casket with silver corners that costs thousands. Your grandson is devastated at losing, and wants to make sure that his dog, whom you loved, can attend the service.

You won’t be around to observe your family’s haggling over the arrangements, and maybe this scene seems cartoonish, but disagreements like this happen all the time. There is nothing like a funeral to bring out family disagreements, and since everyone is dealing with intense emotions, plans don’t run smoothly. Your funeral wishes could easily be ignored, unless you include your wishes in your will.

Pre-Plan Your Own Funeral

Pre-planning your own funeral can be cathartic. You won’t be there to see if your funeral wishes are obeyed, but if they are planned, there won’t be any opportunity for disputes. It also means that you can surprise your loved ones by making some unexpected choices, such as especially memorable songs or color choices. You can even write the sermon, obituary, or eulogy. Participating in your own funeral planning may be the next best thing to actually being there yourself.

Who hasn’t wondered just what people would say at their funeral?

Felix Breazeale Planned His Own Funeral Party

In 1938, seventy-four year old Felix Bushaloo “Bush” Breazeale, of Roane County, Tennessee, found a beautiful black walnut tree. He told a friend he was going to use it for his coffin. Then, Breazeale decided to plan his whole funeral, and actually to have it before he died.

Plan your own funeral like Felix BreazealeFelix “Bush” Breazeale.
(Photo by Secondrate Cyclist)

On the day of the funeral, Breazeale arrived in the hearse, sitting in the front seat. His beautiful homemade coffin was in the back. The town and its surrounding citizens, as well as tourists from 14 different states, packed the roads and Breazeale’s grave site. Their numbers swelled to the thousands.

Breazeale’s idea was so unique that everyone wanted to see it. The roads were so crowded that the service was delayed 40 minutes because the hearse couldn’t get through all the traffic on the rutted, dirt roads. When a sermon was spoken praising Breazeale, a public address system was used so everyone could hear. To provide nourishment for the crowd, drink and food stands were set up. Huge wreaths were donated, and the majority of the crowd stuck around afterwards to shake Breazeale’s hand. Those passing by plucked flowers from the wreaths and wore them in their lapels. The day was remembered and celebrated by the entire county.

Felix Bushaloo “Bush” Breazeale passed away five years later.

His life is the basis for the movie Get Low, starring Bill Murray, Robert Duvall, and more.

What to Consider to Plan Your Own Funeral

To plan your own funeral service and make sure your funeral wishes are honored, take into consideration many of the personal elements you may have seen at other loved ones’ funerals. You might need to consider:

  • who might be responsible for making your final arrangements
  • your religious desires
  • whether you want a viewing
  • whether you want a funeral home service or a graveside service (or both)
  • who might officiate the service (do you have a favorite clergyman?)
  • who might deliver eulogies and speeches
  • what prayers, poems or readings you want shared
  • the types and amount of flowers
  • people you want to attend
  • how to invite loved ones to collaborate on an Everlasting Footprint in your honor

Don’t forget to include instructions to the Executor of your Will or the person in charge of your funeral arrangements to ask guests to donate to a favorite charity in your name.

Plan your own funeral - write out funeral instructions
Writing a first draft of your funeral wishes in your own handwriting makes it more personal. Provide a final typed copy, too.

You can have a memorable, unique funeral service by pre-planning it and discussing your funeral plans with your family, or by writing your wishes for your funeral specifically into your Will. That way, no one fights, no one can be dissatisfied, and everyone can use the day as it should be: a day to celebrate your life.

About Cindy Readnower

Cindy Readnower, MBA, specializes in sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. An award-winning certified Life Coach, business consultant, and publisher at Skinny Leopard Media, she helps writers produce and promote their books. She is a newspaper columnist, author of "Inherited Secrets," and a blogger.

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