Published 26th April 2013
This link has been flying about the social media world for a little while now. It is a conceptual design for an urn which contains seeds, so that when your ashes are interred the tree germinates and grows as an eco-friendly memorial.
The buzz surrounding this was infectious! People all over facebook were speculating what sort of tree they’d have, and where this tree was to be planted.
Equally infectious is the age old debate about what song you are going to have played at your funeral. This one always inspires lively debate. Which version of My Way? (The most requested non-religious song of all time) The Sex Pistols version hasn’t got in there yet but it’s certainly climbing (according to my mother, who is a minister and takes a lot of funerals).
The top 10 funeral songs for 2012 were, according to a poll by Co-Op funeral services:
My Way by Frank Sinatra/Shirley Bassey
Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler/Celine Dion
Time To Say Goodbye by Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocelli
Angels by Robbie Williams
Over The Rainbow by Eva Cassidy
You Raise Me Up by Westlife/Boyzone/Josh Grobin
My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion
I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston
You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry and the Pacemakers
Unforgettable by Nat King Cole
Before I started working in law I worked in the funeral service. I started off covering for a lady who was on long term sick doing the bookkeeping and managing the client accounts, then moved on to training as a Funeral Director, until I realised it wasn’t for me. I also sat in front desk. This meant I had a lot of conversations with the friends and relatives of the deceased as they came through and I was always happy to talk, make them tea, and offer a sympathetic ear. What really struck me was just how clear an idea their loved one had for what they wanted at the funeral.
It seems everyone has “their song” which they feel defines them as a person and want for the big send off. That song is very personal and reflects how they lived their life and their very attitude to life. I think this must be why “My Way” is such a popular choice. My younger sister announced, at the age of 8, that she wanted “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, and this has remained unchanged!
People also have very clear ideas about what they want from the service. From the basics: religious or non- religious, or no ceremony at all; burial or cremation, an open invitation or closest family and friends only, many people approach a particular person to conduct the ceremony. Some people go so far as to plan their funeral through their preferred Director’s many years in advance.
So why is it that people are so happy to talk about these things yet over 60% of people die without leaving a Will?
How you are remembered is, of course, something people want others to know about, but leaving clear instructions about where you want your property to go is just as important.
It seems that talking about Wills is still a taboo area; it doesn’t make for fun pub banter, and there is an air of morbidity about it, yet it is such an important thing to “get round” to doing. Failure to do so can result in your property not going where you want it; enormous financial implications for your family if there isn’t estate planning in place for a large estate; complicated, and potentially financially crippling, implications for an unmarried partner; minor children not adequately provided for if trusts are not in place and a myriad of other issues.
Planning a Will is a task people put off because it can be seen as daunting or even difficult, but with careful and tailored professional advice it does not need to be so. It can even be a tool for someone to put their funeral plans in place with. Over the years
I’ve set out some very detailed funeral wishes.
So next time the “send off song” comes up, think about whether it’s time to make a Will and make sure it happens your way?
PS: If anyone’s curious, my choices are the “Libera me” movement from Faure’s Requiem and the feel good number “I Am What I Am” because as the song goes, “I am my own special creation, I deal my own deck, sometimes the ace, sometimes the Deuces…”