Planning your funeral
Some people may find planning their own funeral difficult or morbid. Others may be comforted that the funeral will be carried out according to their wishes and that their family or friends won’t have to guess what they would have wanted. Still others think that funerals are for the family, and should be organised by them. Some people decide they don’t want a funeral at all, or are concerned it will be too expensive or sad. People may prefer to have a memorial service or a living wake. It’s a good idea to discuss your choice with family and friends ahead of time. A funeral or memorial service can be a comfort for family and friends.
What are the options?
Most people do have a funeral of some sort. It is probably not easy for most of us to hear or think about funerals. However, there can be a satisfaction in leaving your mark on the occasion, and in involving your family in the planning. If you’d like to make preparations but you can’t do the work, or prefer not to, talk to a spiritual care practitioner, funeral celebrant or end-of-life doula for assistance.
You might simply discuss your preferences with your family and executor. Or you may record them in writing or lodge a plan with a funeral director of your choice. There are no rules. You can plan your funeral to meet any cultural or spiritual preferences. You may just have a few simple requests for music you want played or poems you’d like read, or you may have detailed plans for the full service.
Prearranging a funeral
For more information on prearranging or prepaying a funeral, talk to a funeral director or visit the Australian Funeral Directors Association. Provide copies of a prepaid funeral contract to members of your family or file it with your will. If the funeral is not prepaid, payment may be made a few days before, or sometimes after, the service.
Dr Megan Ritchie, Staff Specialist Palliative Medicine, Palliative Care Service, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Gabrielle Asprey, Cancer Support Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Rosemary Cavanough, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Metro South Palliative Care Service, QLD; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Rowena Robinson, Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia, ACT; Helena Rodi, Program Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
The information on this page is also available for download.