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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Funerals, one certainty in life, my top ten of how to make it easier!!

As many of you will knw we have been hit by multiple breavements this year, no this is not me talking of my struggle as a writer but more to pass on my tips on how to manage them the best you can.

It seems we can talk about anything and everything in life but not death and how it effects those left behind.

1/ If it is at all possible talk to your family about it, your parents, your siblings, your children, your partner. Do you know what they want? Do you know what you want and have you told them?

2/ Have the conversation with them if you haven't already, talk as if you had died yesterday or they had,( don't tempt fate) do they know what you want and are you clear on how they would like thier funeral.

3/ Do the want a creamation? Or a Burial? Is there a burail plot? Where do they want there ashes to go if creamated. A religous cermonary? A wake? Hymmns?? A favourite song? Flowers or a charity collection.

4/ Remember you are not being morbid, This is the one certainty in life, we are all going to die at some point. Nothing else in life is a (excuse the pun) dead certain than death.

5/ Take the fear out of it, for example what do you want to wear in your coffin, if you do not provide clothing for your departed loved one, they will probably end up in a frilly shroud! Is that what you want, is that what they would want?  My husband has decided he wants to go in his winter wetsuit, he rather likes the idea of the struggle the funeral staff would have with that one! He even told one firm recently and they laughed and said they would start collecting the jars of Vaseline now! I want to go in one of my glamourous ball gowns, made up to the nines looking my best. How about you?

6/ Having never arranged a funeral before we floundered a little, this blog if you take it on board is so you do not have to. What notice do you want to put in the paper? Do you want to put the announcement in the paper? Well traditionally most of us do and it is a good way of informing some extended friends or ex colleagues you may have lost touch with. We found it a good way to cover the bases, as you can never be sure you have informed everyone and would you know everyone to inform of your loved ones departure.

7/ Be aware of the costs involved, sadly even dying has its expence. To place an announcement in a paper will cost an average £100 to 200 plus depending on how much you want to say. We thought we had kept it brief but including children, grandchildren and great grandchildren cost £175.00. This has to paid on placing the annoucement. Papers do not wait until an estate has been settled.

8/ You will probably need to pay at least 25% of the cost of the funeral before it takes place, could be more for a burial. This could be at least a £1000.00 An easier way around this can be if your loved one had purchased a funeral bond, it is certainly something we will be looking into. A funeral bond means purchasing at todays prices and you can even express how you want you funeral to take place but please discuss it with your loved ones. Recently attending a funeral of a family friend, he had expressed he wanted it quick and simple, you might say we all do but we did not realise, he meant no vicar, no religous cermonary, no hymnns, no euogoly nothing, just a piece of music chosen by himself played before, a few minutes silence to say goodbye and more music of the same tune to file out to. Personaly I think this was awful, it might have been his wishes but he did not discuss it with his family. A funeral is your loved ones time to say goodbye but it is also time for your family and friends to say goodbye and remember the good memories. People want to pay thier respects, they need time for this, so remember this when discussing yours with your family.

9/ You may think a life assurance policy is the way to go, remember these can take time to pay out, maybe held up by Probate in England and Wales or Confirmation of Estate in Scotland. If you want to go this way, go small, just enough to pay for your funeral and immediate bills. Including copies of multiple death certificates at current rates of £9.00 each, bank accounts, polices, investments all want to see an orginal copy of a death certificate. Very few places accept a certified copy of even a photocopy.
A larger policy usually anything over £20000 has to go through the court for Probate or Confirmation. So if you have a larger one maybe to leave something behind or pay off your mortgage, consider a smaller one separetly or look at the Funeral bond previously mentioned.

10/ A wake or not to have a wake, I have been to both and personally prefer a small wake. Just a chance to take it all in, have a bite to eat and drink, no it does not need to be a massive party  but if you want one then please provide for it, don't expect your breaved loved ones to find the extra cash.

Lastly a good tip I can pass on, if you are invited back to the breaved persons home, be supportive but don't outstay your welcome, they are going to be exhausted and need sometime to themselves.

I hope you have not found this post morbid just something I have had a more experience than most of recently and wanted to share some tips, to make what can be very stressful and distressing time a little less so.

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