Must I have a funeral?

User Written by Cindy-Marie Leicester on May 06, 2016.

Must I have a funeral?

When someone passes away one of the first tasks for loved ones left behind is to organise a funeral. Yet two household names who have died this year – musical legend, David Bowie and Booker prize-winning novelist, Anita Brookner – went without. Bowie was cremated in New York with no friends or family present and Brookner’s loved ones respected her dying wish that no funeral be held.

This appears to be an emerging trend with an increasing number of people opting for direct cremation when a deceased loved is transferred directly from their place of death to be cremated without ceremony. It is unlikely that finances were a motivating factor in the cases of Brooker and Bowie but for others the rising cost of a funeral, which has now reached over £3,700 in the UK, makes direct cremation, which costs a much more manageable £1,000, an understandable choice.

Opting for direct cremation has the added advantage of giving those left behind more time to think about how they wish to celebrate the life of their loved one. Having to make decisions immediately following the loss of a loved one can be very difficult while the shock and grief of losing that person is still very raw. Leaving a little time to heal can relieve pressure at a difficult time and delay the decision-making until the intensity of the loss has eased a little. It also allows for a better-planned event and more notice to be given potentially enabling more people to attend.

On the flip side, many still view a funeral as a key rite of passage and an important part of the grieving process. It allows all those who loved the deceased to come together to remember and celebrate that person. The act of committing a person to the ground at a burial or to the flames at a cremation is viewed by many as a way to say goodbye and bring some form of closure.

So, in short, it is not essential to have a funeral however, if you have strong feelings about what happens to you when you die it is important that you write down your wishes and make them known to your loved ones. In the absence of clear directions, it will be up to those left behind to decide how best to say goodbye and celebrate your life.

You should also bear in mind that your will may not be read until after your funeral so to ensure your wishes are followed is to inform loved ones of your funereal (or non-funeral) wishes whilst you are alive. Pre-paid funeral plans complete with your specified set of requirements are another way to ensure your funeral wishes are followed after your demise.

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