Have you thought about your funeral arrangements?
Have you thought about your funeral? Certainly, a challenging and tough question that you might not have wanted to think about before. Let me tell you my story.
My mum and dad both died very unexpectantly of heart attacks at the ages of 58 and 63. They died within three years of each other, mum in 1993 and then dad in 1996. Neither expressed their wishes for what they wanted after their death for funerals or a will or anything. Their deaths were both a complete shock.
Dad dying was the toughest. Everyone was still incredibly raw from mum dying three years earlier and surprisingly that shock hadn’t prompted my dad into writing a will or sorting out anything for when he died. When he died, it was a mess. My dad hadn’t coped well by himself so he got together with a friend and subsequently married her. My then step-mother was left with a funeral to arrange nine months after their marriage has taken place.
The funeral arrangements
I have distant memories of the funeral being arranged but it not necessarily being what my dad would have wanted as he hadn’t expressed his wishes. The funeral was held in a church that bore no meaning to anyone in family except it was near to the British Legion where the wake was to be held, his favourite drinking hole. And where he had spent his last night before a catastrophic heart attack at 12 midnight which killed him.
I remember his funeral well, dad was in the services for his entire adult life. He joined the marines at 18, moved onto the army and then ended his career with the MOD. He retired at 60 and had three short years to enjoy his retirement before he died. The funeral was a celebration of his life and his achievements in service and as a football referee and cricket umpire. He refereed the Manchester United Busby babes. The ‘Last Post’ was played on the bugle and ‘You’ll never walk alone’ was played as we left. I cannot listen to that song without the tears flowing.
Dad was cremated, who knew if this was his wish? None of us went to the cremation ceremony as there had been the full church send off. Maybe we didn’t go because the crematorium was a 60-minute drive away? Dad’s ashes were buried in the ground next to my mums in a graveyard in Penzance where they had lived together for 30 years. Room had been left on my mum’s gravestone to include my dad. One could then assume this was his wish to be buried with my mum.
It was an extremely tough time for everyone involved in the organisation of the funeral. Trying not to upset children, his wife and his friends was a huge challenge and it was never going to be perfect, because we were making it up as we went along. Guessing what dad would have wanted. And the cost. No money had been set aside for these costs.
You can very easily set up a funeral plan to avoid these emotional and financial complications that we experienced after the death of my dad. You can make the plan as detailed or simple as you wish, and specify requests including your choice of flowers to readings to coffin choice. And the most powerful thing you can do is to take away the financial burden from your loved ones.
The average all-in cost of funeral in 2016 according to Co-op Funeral care was £3,882. Not all funeral plans are the same. Co-op’s funeral plan is the UK’s only fully guaranteed plan, covering the full cost of the funeral benefits outlined in the plan and third party charges, even if prices go up. Some providers will only make a contribution towards these charges. Take a look at their pre-paid plans and see what they offer. A plan can be set up to cover these costs and can be paid for gradually over time. It will cost you less than £15 per month on a 25 years plan to cover the cost of a simple funeral plan (see Co-op Funeralcare’s website for details).
Yes, we all die. And to die with expressions of wish and costs covered will make it a much less traumatic time for your loved ones.
I have a blog post coming soon on the process of writing a will. Another scary thing to approach but an essential thing to have, particularly when you have children. Again, I had the painful experience of parents dying without a will and saw the hardship that followed. I’ll save that story for another day and once I have that will sorted!
This is a collaborative post and all views are my own.