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Funeral Plan – Its never to soon

BY: Paul / 0 COMMENTS / CATEGORIES: Funeral Plans


It’s never too soon to start saving for your retirement, they say. But is it ever too soon to start planning your funeral? If it is, the journalist Lauren Windle from the Sun newspaper hasn’t been put off. She only twenty-eight now, but she’s been planning her funeral since she was twelve.

Why did she start so young? She says it was her father. Whenever she had a minor complaint in childhood – like being stopped from eating sweets before a meal – her father would remind her of what lay ahead. There were two things she would be unable to avoid as a grown-up. First she would have to pay taxes; and then, sooner or later, she would die. I’m glad my father didn’t tell me the same. Those are serious thoughts for a child, but maybe they’re useful ones too.

Life can’t be fun for ever. And life can’t last for ever. That was a lesson that Laura absorbed early and that’s why she began thinking about what she wanted her funeral to be like. In short, she began a funeral plan. The first thing on her mind was the music. What song should be played to sum up her life and bring a tear or a smile to the mourners? At the age of twelve, she liked a ballad called “There You’ll Be” from the movie Pearl Harbor. It was full of emotion and power – a perfect way to say goodbye.

Or so she thought at the age of twelve. But our tastes change as we get older. Later she thought she might like Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” instead. It’s a very popular choice as a funeral song – many thousands of people have sent that defiant message to the world as they left it. But what about something quirky? Laura later decided on the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” as a her funeral song. That would raise a smile, wouldn’t it?

Or maybe not. Her choice of song kept changing. At the moment it’s “See You Again” by Wiz Khlaifa, another emotion-filled song from a movie. It was played in Fast & Furious 7 to honour Paul Walker, the star of the franchise who had died in a car-crash in Los Angeles. But it’s more than likely than her choice of funeral song will change again. After all, she’s still only twenty-eight and she might live to be a hundred or more.

Or she might have an accident and pass away much sooner. Like most people, she has no idea when she’ll go and she wants to be prepared. Beside music, she’s also planning the food for her funeral. If her funeral plan as a whole was inspired by her father, her choice of food is influenced by her mother, who has an interesting story about her university days. She studied science and one day, working in the laboratory, she accidentally breathed in what she thought was a deadly gas.

“In an hour or two I’ll be dead!” she thought. But she wanted to have lunch first. With no future ahead of her, or so she thought, she chose an expensive prawn sandwich rather than the cheaper egg mayo she usually had. She didn’t die, of course: she married and had a daughter called Laura. And Laura, having heard her story about the poisonous gas and the prawn sandwich, decided that prawn sandwiches would be the perfect accompaniment to a real funeral.

For one thing, it’s a good family joke. And there’s nothing wrong with that. A funeral plan can have humour in it, if that’s what you want. The choices are yours, because it’s your funeral. But it’s a good idea to discuss your ideas with your nearest and dearest, even if you want to keep a few surprises up your sleeve. Laura Windle may be doing that in another part of her funeral plan: the message she’s recorded to be played when the mourners are gathered in church.

She wants to tell them that she loves them and that they meant the world to her. But her funeral message, like her choice of song, may be updated again and again as she gets older. Life brings us new experiences and we change our minds. A funeral plan doesn’t have to be set in stone. It’s likely, though, that we will be more and more satisfied with it as we get pass our middle years and into old age. At the age of twenty-eight, Laura Windle is having fun her funeral plan. As she gets older, she will begin to gain comfort from it. The funeral plan will allow her to have some control over something that none of us can control: the fact of our mortality.

We can’t choose to live for ever and when we have a funeral plan we have faced the end of life and decided how we want to be remembered. With a funeral plan, we can save money, enjoy peace of mind, and lift an enormous burden from our loved ones. They won’t have to make decisions about our funeral because the decisions will already have been made.

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Why do we have funerals?

BY: Paul / 0 COMMENTS / CATEGORIES: Funeral Plans, News


Funeral and burial traditions have been dated as far back as 100,000 years ago with modern human remains found in Qafzeh, Israel. There are even some findings which suggest evidence of intentional burials by Neanderthals dating back 250,000 – 300,000 years ago, however many of these sites are a topic of controversy between experts.

With evidence of burial traditions dating back throughout the ages, taking care of the deceased remains part of our culture today despite changes in funeral traditions. But why do we do we have funerals?

For early societies with religious beliefs, and for believers across many of today’s faiths, a funeral ceremony will usher the dead on to the next life. During ancient times many had believed their loved ones would not be able to cross over to the next life if they did not have the rites and rituals of a properly conducted funeral.

Modern funerals can tie to the sentiment of securing entry to the next life but generally involve a much more dignified and affectionate send off for the deceased. Whether the funeral involves religious beliefs or not, it still plays a very important part in coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.

Time to stop and think

Immediately after a death there can be a lot to do and the funeral might be the first real opportunity the family have to stop, and begin to acknowledge that the deceased is really gone, with their friends and family.

A co-founder of the What’s Your Grief website, Litsa Williams, has written about how funerals can be the starting point for grieving.

“It can be a really important ritual and the first step for so many people, and as much as you may be dreading it, you may be surprised at the comfort you find in meeting people you may never have known were touched by your loved one in some way.”

A funeral can be an important opportunity for people to gather together and demonstrate their love and respect for the deceased while offering support and sympathy to the bereaved. The death of someone close is clearly a difficult time and having people around that care for the bereaved and the deceased can be a considerable comfort.


A celebration of life

More often now the funeral is seen as an opportunity to celebrate a life well lived. There are less strictly regimented religious ceremonies with the funeral featuring more reflective elements which are unique to the personality of the person that has passed.

From a cheerful dress code to a quirky music choice, funerals can be an opportunity to remember the wonderful personality of a loved one who is missed but never forgotten.

At a time of great upset, a funeral with well-known ceremonies can offer some familiar structure for people close to the departed. The familiarity of words spoken and songs sung during these ceremonies can reduce some of the burden of having to think about what to do next and instead let us focus on our feelings.

No matter how people choose to mark their passing or the passing of a loved one, the familiarity of funeral ritual is also a factor in why we take such care over funeral planning. Whether to prepare the way for the next life, to gather friends and family to say goodbye or just to have one final opportunity to demonstrate our individuality, funerals are an important part of our passing.


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Living through Loss

BY: Paul / 0 COMMENTS / CATEGORIES: Funeral Plans

It’s one of the hazards of an actor’s life: that people think you’re the same off screen as you are on it. Because the actor Humphrey Bogart often played “tough guys” in his films, in real life he was constantly being challenged by men who wanted to prove that they were tougher than he was. He had to learn to joke or charm his way out of these annoying situations.

At a lower level, actors who play villains in soap operas may find themselves being shouted at on the street – or worse – for things that they’ve only done on screen.  A lot of people find it hard to distinguish between fantasy and reality. And even if you know the difference, it can be difficult to feel it. A good actor can make the character he plays seem real, so that it’s hard to remember that the actor has a life of his own.

Take the British actor Jason Watkins, who was widely praised for his performance in the two-part docu-drama The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies. He portrayed a retired school-teacher who was wrongly accused of murder. And his acting was so good – so convincing – that he won a BAFTA. And he’s gone on to have other successful and widely-watched roles. Each time he’s convincingly become another person, so that it’s hard to remember that he has a life of his own. But he does. And with life comes loss. He and his wife Clara Francis has suffered one of the most painful things any human being can suffer: the loss of a child.

Their daughter Maude was only two-and-a-half when, at the beginning of 2011, she died suddenly and unexpectedly. She had been ill with a cough and breathing difficulties, but the doctors who examined her didn’t think it was serious – just a minor infection. She was sent home from hospital and her parents thought, yes, she’s getting better. They put her to bed in her cot. A few hours later her father went to check on her. She was dead. The infection wasn’t minor but very serious: it had triggered an over-reaction from her immune system, which had begun attacking the very organs it is designed to protect.

The condition is called “sepsis” and the two bereaved parents are now campaigning for greater awareness not just among the public, but also in the medical profession. This is one way in which they are trying to cope with the pain and loss they still feel six years after their daughter’s death. Out of the very bad thing that happened to them, they want some good to come for others. Perhaps their campaign will help another parent to spot the danger-signs of sepsis or prompt a doctor somewhere to think again about what appears to be a minor illness. And then a child who might have died will get the right treatment and live to grow up, have a family and enjoy a successful career.

Jason Watkins and his wife might never hear that their work has saved another child, but they know that they are doing something positive in response to their devastating loss. They also know that their work isn’t just helping strangers: they have a living daughter called Bessie for whom they want to be the best possible parents. The loss of Maude caused them so much pain that it would have been easy to be paralysed by it and think of nothing else, neglecting the world and their continuing responsibilities there.

They couldn’t allow that to happen: Bessie still needed them. Their campaign about sepsis has been one of the ways in which they pulled their minds away from their bereavement and back to the lives that hadn’t ended and that they wanted to keep safe. It was the right thing to do for themselves, their living daughter, and the dead daughter whose memory they are honouring and whom they will never allow to fade or pass from their minds.

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