The Importance of Honoring Your Loved One's Funeral Wishes

By: Shama Rhoden
Thursday, January 14, 2016

Dealing with a loss is hard for anyone. For many, a funeral can be seen as a final goodbye or as a celebration of life. In some cases, however, the deceased may have left specific instructions regarding their funeral.

No Funeral

A funeral can be expensive. It’s an unfortunate fact, and one people are often surprised by. If the deceased requested there be no funeral, they may have had concerns regarding the financial strain it would put on their loved ones. On the other hand, the deceased may simply not wish to think about a room full of friends, family and loved ones grieving at their passing. There are many other potential reasons, such as personal, religious or family issues, that may cause them to make such a request.

If you disagree with their wishes, then you’ll need to think long and hard about what you want to do. You may have equally valid reasons to hold a funeral, and you’ll need to weigh those against the wishes of the deceased. Additionally, most US states have specific laws regarding the wishes of the deceased, so you’ll need to be aware of those too, if you happen to live south of the border.

Other Ways to Honor a Memory

If you choose to follow their wishes, you do have multiple options for remembering the deceased. Based on your relationship with the deceased and your knowledge of their personality and wishes, you may wish to consider one or more of these alternatives.

A Memorial Service

Depending on the faith of the deceased, a minister, pastor, priest or other clergy member may perform a service, which you have control over. You may want to keep it a small, private service just for family and certain close friends. Typically, a graveside service follows a funeral, but if the deceased does not want one, a simple graveside service is a good way to bring comfort to some mourners.

A Celebration of Life

Everyone has a special day, like a birthday or wedding anniversary. On those days, you may consider holding a celebration of their life, rather than mourn their passing. These are much more in your control than a traditional funeral might be. Be it a night of ballroom dancing, a feast for friends and family to eat at the deceased’s favorite restaurant, or simply coming together with photo albums and recordings to remember the deceased, you and yours can come together to remember a loved one who is no longer with you.

In the end, keep in mind that your loved one made a point of detailing specific wishes, and it is wise to honor them just as you’d want your family to honor your wishes. If you have been put in control of seeing the funeral through, then take your responsibility seriously, even if you don’t completely agree.


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