When we remember a person that has passed away, we often think of the unique joy that they brought to our own lives; be it a wicked sense of humour, their unwavering loyalty to their favourite sports team, or a secret recipe that always stole the show at gatherings. So why is it that when we come together to remember them at their funeral, we can sometimes let personality get overshadowed by ceremony and tradition?
There are lots of ways to add personal touches to a funeral whilst maintaining a respectful atmosphere, and by discussing your wishes with your loved ones you can ensure that there will be no uncertainty when it comes to honouring your own unique requests at your funeral.
To help get you thinking of what’s right for you, here’s a list of ways to make your funeral unique:
1. Go Out with a Bang
Where your funeral and memorial are held will make a big statement about your life and loves. Choosing somewhere meaningful is not only important for your own peace of mind but will also give your loved ones a fitting place to visit to remember you. So, before you resign yourself to your local community centre for your memorial, why not explore some of the unusual options available to you:
- A firework display with memorial fireworks containing your ashes
- A concert hall to celebrate your life with music
- A sea ceremony to release your ashes to the ocean
- A tree-planting to allow your ashes to nourish a new life
2. Ask Funeral Guests not to Wear Black
Formal black attire is the norm for funerals, but it’s not a very unique look and certainly isn’t mandatory. If you want to arrange a personal funeral, then asking your guests to wear something a little different is a great way to put your stamp on the day. Here are just a couple of suggestions to get you thinking of a dress code for your guests:
- Wear an item that reminds them of you
- Attach a favourite photograph of you to their clothing with a safety pin
- Wear bright colours or your favourite colour
- Wear the shirt of your favourite sports team
- Wear an accessory that you often wear, such as jazzy ties, big hats or colourful jewellery
- Wear clothing associated with a theme you love, such as golf, Hollywood glamour, the ocean or your favourite TV show or film
- Relive a memory by wearing what they wore to one of your happiest memories (or something similar), e.g. what they wore to your wedding, what they wore to school prom, what they wore to your 60th birthday fancy dress party
3. Personalise your Coffin
Cardboard coffins have become a popular eco-friendly option for funerals, but they also have the benefit of being completely customisable. Many companies will print pictures onto the coffin for you and will personalise with your name and the dates of birth and death added into the design.
Often you can choose from a picture library, to have animals, flowers or picturesque scenes printed onto the coffin. Or you could even create a novelty coffin by printing a design that makes it look like Doctor Who’s Tardis, a guitar case, a bottle of wine or more.
Many companies will also create designs using your own photos, so you could cover your coffin with your favourite photographs from your life or even decorate it with pictures from your garden or of your pets. The options are practically endless.
4. Share your Passions
Most of us have at least one hobby or passion that we’ll be remembered for, and what better way to honour that than for our loved ones to give it a go for themselves. You could make it part of the wake or memorial by planning an activity such as reading an extract from your favourite book if you’re an avid reader or having a cupcake decorating station if you’re known for your baking.
Alternatively, why not give your loved ones a little keepsake that they can take home to remember you by. A seed packet of your favourite flowers will place a reminder of you in your loved ones’ gardens, or a print-out of your ‘secret recipe’ will share your love of cooking with friends and family.
5. Pick a Meaningful Song
Funeral music doesn’t have to be sad or sombre. In fact, songs such as ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ by Eric Idle and the Match of the Day theme tune often make top funeral song lists.
So rather than picking a generic ‘funeral’ song or hymn, why not consider something that is personal to you and your loved ones. Just be careful not to pick anything that will cause unnecessary upset or offence. ‘Highway to Hell’ or ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ might sound like funny choices in the pub with your mates, but unless you’re well-known and loved for your dark humour, they’re probably not going to have the desired effect.
6. Dress to Impress
You can choose what you’d like to be wearing at your funeral so be sure to pick something that suits you as a person. Some people feel under pressure to wear something formal such as a dress or a suit, even if they would never wear that sort of outfit in their everyday life.
If you’re never seen without that old biker jacket that’s been around longer than some of your kids, then it might be downright strange to be parted from it at your funeral. Or if your extravagant earrings are often a talking point with friends and family then wouldn’t it make sense to wear your most extravagant pair for your funeral.
If you don’t have an item of clothing that you feel is personal to you, then why not wear something that represents something unique to you instead? It could be a t-shirt with a favourite photograph printed on it, a sailor’s cap if you’ve spent most of your life by the sea, or simply a bright colour if you want to be remembered for your bold personality.
7. Arrive in Style
Limousines and a black hearse are traditional but don’t necessarily suit everyone’s personality. Thankfully there are lots of other options available, both for yourself and your guests to arrive at the funeral. Here are just a few ideas to explore:
- Fire engine
- Horse-drawn carriage
- Marty McFly’s DeLorean
- London bus
8. Choose an Unusual Funeral Flower Arrangement
There are lots of ways to show personality with funeral flowers, whether it’s simply requesting your favourite flower or arranging a special tribute to one of your great loves. Different florists will offer different designs, although some will be able to do unique arrangements upon request.
Popular arrangements include:
- Sport shirts and logos
- Religious symbols
- Letters to spell out your nickname or a phrase you often use
9. Share Memories
The people who attend your funeral will bring endless memories and stories that ultimately will be what makes your funeral unique. Make these a much more present part of the day by offering opportunities for guests to write down and share these memories.
A display where attendees can contribute written memories or photos is a lovely way to get people talking and reminiscing on the good times they shared with you. You could even make an activity out of it by asking guests to release balloons with their favourite memories of you tied to them, or to put their memories as a message in a bottle and send them out to sea.
10. Write Your Own Eulogy
If you really want to set the tone of the day and have a unique presence, then why not consider writing your own eulogy. It’s the perfect opportunity to share some memories, say your goodbyes and ensure that the parts of your life that you want to be spoken about are mentioned.
You could use it to offer comfort to your loved ones, to lighten the mood with some humour or simply to reflect on the life you leave behind. As it’s written by you, it’s sure to be unique, and full of your personality.
If you have any special requests that you’d like for your funeral, then why not consider taking out a Funeral Plan, which allows you to prepare your wishes in as much detail as you like for your loved ones. This will not only relieve your loved ones of the stress of worrying about what you would have wanted, it will take the financial pressure off them when the time comes.
A funeral plan puts into place all the necessary arrangements well in advance, so when it is needed, all it takes is one phone call from a loved one to the Funeral Director to put your personalised plan in place. This means they don’t need to worry about the logistics or paperwork, and can focus on the personal touches that mean so much more.