Traditionally, a funeral ceremony is held in a formal setting, where friends and family arrive in dark, formal dress, to pay their respects and say their final farewells to a loved one, before a social gathering known as a wake takes place. But these traditions may not be everyone’s choice.
There are many aspects to a funeral that can be personalised to provide a truly fitting farewell.
It is common for families to opt for a service involving alternative transport such as a horse drawn hearse, a motorcycle, or perhaps something specific to the loved one’s line of work, a vintage lorry, double decker bus or Land Rover hearse.
Clothing is one aspect that has changed over time. Many people now opt for wearing colour at funerals and you may even find it comforting to wear a unique item of significance to your loved one, such as a football scarf.
“I recently worked with a young family whose dad had passed away aged only 41. I spoke with his daughter about the arrangement and it was clear that Tottenham hotspur FC was a huge part of his life. The family had bought the gentlemen’s clothing in, which was a Spurs shirt and his scarf with all his badges pinned to it. They had also sourced a nine feet Spurs flag to drape over his coffin. I thought it would be fitting to tell the club that one of their true supporters had passed away, so I contacted Tottenham Hotspur FC on behalf of the family. They were very responsive and sent me a lovely letter of thanks – and most importantly they forwarded a letter of condolence to the family .”
Thomas Parfitt, The Co-operative Funeralcare Frome.
As funerals become more personalised and unique, families are opting for personal favourite songs, often choosing light-hearted or humorous music to reflect a loved one’s personality. This could be music the family associate with the person e.g. My Way, Simply the Best; music reflecting their hobbies or interests e.g. TV theme tunes – Channel 4 horse racing, Match of the Day; live music e.g. bagpipes, guitars; or music recorded by a family member. Most crematoriums will provide you with various methods of playing music.
Visual remembrance, for family members or friends who are unable to attend the funeral, or for you to keep as a memory of a poignant day can be arranged; the funeral can be photographed or recorded on DVD. It is possible at certain venues to transmit live chapel proceedings via webcast, privately and securely over the internet to invited guests.
Some crematoriums offer the option of displaying a visual life tribute during the funeral service. A combination of family photos, images and home video of your loved one is overlaid with favourite music from a media library to play on screen at the funeral.
Many people are starting to take more of a creative approach when planning a wake too, such as choosing a party over a wake. Many adults saying they’d like a cake at their own wake. The location can be more unusual too, such as beside the seaside or on a boat out at sea. Many may choose their local pub, a local community club, a disco, a bar or even a nightclub.
We are hearing more that personalised send-offs and destination wakes are a nice way to say goodbye to a loved one and feel that they are a comfort to those left behind.