What Happened When I Planned my Own Funeral
For my final semester in college, I enrolled in a class called “Grief, Loss and Trauma: Ethnic and Individual Variations.” It’s a nursing class that a lot of non-majors also take, because it deals with life skills such as understanding how and why people grieve. The major course project is to plan your own funeral. At 21 years old, that was my task.
My “Death Packet,” as we called our funeral plans, was very flexible, according to what we wanted. Death Packets contain the following:
When I first heard about this course from my friend, I thought it sounded morbid. Now that I’ve taken it, I’ve realized that as morbid as planning your own funeral may seem, it is beneficial for my family that I’ve made these end of life decisions. Five things happened as I planned my own funeral:
1. Questions were brought up that I’d never thought about
2. It started important conversations with my family
3. It reminded me to appreciate life and the people important to me
4. It gave me the opportunity to evaluate who I am and how I will be remembered
5. I found that personalizing the funeral was enjoyable:
I chose my favorite flowers to decorate the church, planned out my favorite meal to be served at the wake, and asked that my favorite worship songs be played during the service. I even planned for a floating lantern release at the end of the graveside service, and more. Planning was both fun and emotional, but most of all, I know it will be a special day for my family to remember me.
It was sad at times when planning my own funeral, but not all of it was negative. I found that making end of life decisions in advance is very beneficial. Even if you are young, it’s a good idea to be prepared and let people know your wishes, rather than leave it up to them. It’s not something to stress about, but it is worth planning, so the people left behind won’t have to make so many choices and decisions while grieving.
At the very least, if you don’t make an official, detailed packet with all your funeral plans, consider discussing your end of life decisions with your family. Talk especially to the ones who will be making legal decisions for you. For example, if you don’t mind who speaks at your funeral, but cremation is important to you, let your family know. I had fun planning my funeral, and I recommend that others do it too. There are infinite ways for you to tailor the funeral to suit your personality. Planning your own funeral means that you have time to make it special and meaningful, so take advantage of that.
Overall, planning my own funeral was a great reminder that nothing in life should be taken for granted: I am thankful for everything. I have a sense of peace that everything is planned, personalized, and ready to guide the people who will one day need it.
Interested in starting a conversation about your funeral planning? Leave a comment or Tweet us. We want to hear.