Why You Should Pre-Plan Your Own Funeral (Yes, Really!)

Photo: Mabeline72 / shutterstock
Heart memorial near a mossy tree

Pre-planning your memorial can be a time of reflection on the accomplishments you carry proudly, people whose lives are important to your life story, and the milestones that help define your legacy. Pre-planning can offer many benefits to you and your loved ones.  

You can plan exactly how you want to be remembered and celebrated after your passing, down to the smallest details. For example, do you want people to wear bright colors in your honor, or would you like your favorite foods to be served?

Making these decisions ahead of time lessens the burden on your loved ones. The memorial plan is all laid out for them, and the guesswork is removed, so they can focus on remembering you and the grieving process.

However, there is another side to pre-planning your memorial that is more than coordination. How would you like your life to be celebrated?

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5 things that are vital to planning your memorial services.

1. Determine the tone

Do you want your memorial to be an uplifting event, a quiet gathering of remembrance, or a celebration of life party? In pre-planning your memorial, the tone may be a starting place or the result of the details you choose. These details might include the venue, readings, keepsakes, flowers, music, and food.   

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2. Select a venue

There are a few possible considerations when choosing the location of your memorial. First, would you like to choose one of your favorite places? Secondly, do you imagine the location will be a reflection of your unique self? Finally, will the venue allow all those who wish to attend your memorial to be able to?

I have helped families plan in-person memorials at various venues, including an Irish pub, museums, a loved one’s backyard, and a jazz club. Each location held a special meaning to the loved one being honored and helped make attendees feel that much closer to them.

Alternatively, you could consider a virtual memorial and have the benefit of being accessible to your friends and family, near or far. A virtual “venue” is convenient and can still be completely customized. In short, carefully choosing where to hold a memorial helps make the service a personalized event.

3. Choose the readings

Pre-planning your memorial allows you to choose words that best honor your life and legacy. Additionally, these could be the words you want to bestow upon your loved ones when they need comfort.

Potential readings include passages from your favorite works of literature, poems that highlight the spirit of your life, prayers that carry significance to you, or even the lyrics to a favorite song. Whether you choose whimsical readings or readings that say goodbye, the words you choose to be shared will help set the tone of the memorial.  

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4. Determine if you want memorial keepsakes

Memorial keepsakes can be a few different things. One is tokens passed out to and kept by attendees of your memorial. If the memorial you have in mind is a celebration of life party, the keepsake can be completely out-of-the-box, even something you find at a party supply store or a custom wine label with your name and photo.

The other type of memorial keepsake is a creation made by attendees as part of the memorial, which is then passed on to your closest family or friends. Leave instructions for your memorial attendees to build something beautiful. For example, a collage of their favorite pictures or memories is written onto a large canvas, or tree ornaments to be hung in their favorite garden.

You can be more at peace knowing that your friends or family will always have something special to remember your memorial by.

5. Decide on your flowers

Coordinating flowers for a memorial can sometimes be overwhelming for the loved ones planning the event. Between the traditional options of wreaths or bouquets of white roses, your unique personality can sometimes get a little lost.

Doing this lets you choose exactly what floral decor will best celebrate your life while easing the stress for friends and family. Opting for your favorites, whether something non-traditional like daisies or greenery over flowers, lets your personality shine through the beauty of nature.

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Alexandra Koys founded Lighten in an effort to transform the traditional funeral process into an uplifting celebration and enabling the bereaved to honor lost loved ones.

This article was originally published at Lighten. Reprinted with permission from the author.