14/10/2016 07:57 BST | Updated 14/10/2017 06:12 BST

How To Personalise A Funeral

Talking about funerals won't kill you

Few of us want to admit it, but death is one of life's certainties. As a nation, we find death and end of life wishes one of the most difficult topics to discuss. It is a sobering subject and people can find funeral planning a sensitive or awkward matter, as if talking about dying will somehow make it happen. This, however, need not be the case.

New research commissioned by leading family funeral directors, CPJ Field, shows that a more open dialogue around death is starting to take place in the UK, with findings revealing that 61% of people are happy to discuss funerals. Not only that, but 42% of people would like to plan their own funeral, with 36% even considering writing their own eulogy.

It is a really positive sign that many are so keen to plan their own funeral, but where do you start?

1. Choose your funeral type

The first decision to make is the type of funeral you would like. There is a lot of choice available, so if you're particularly keen for a certain type of send-off, consider the below options:

Humanist funerals - a Humanist service does not recognise an 'after life'. It focuses instead upon the life and experiences of the person who has died.

Civil funerals - these may also be appropriate for those for whom religion has not played a central role. They offer the opportunity to create a personal service that reflects the life and wishes of a loved one, but it is also possible to incorporate some aspects of religious origin, such as readings or a particular hymn. If the religious content of the funeral extends beyond one hymn and prayer, a religious minister should be considered.

Family funerals - a family funeral allows those closest to the person who has died to create their own service, with members of the family having more involvement in different elements of it.

2. Writing your eulogy

It may make the process easier for your loved ones if your eulogy has already been drafted - you may even find it therapeutic to put it together. Here are some tips from our writer in residence, Hannah Sherriffs:

Start by considering the following themes -

  • Prized possessions
  • Your personal sayings
  • Your proudest or funniest moments
  • Your loved ones

A good starting point could also be a certain topic, quotation or poem.

Always remember, you are looking to identify themes that your loved ones can easily relate to, so try not to be too specific. It's a good opportunity to thank your family and friends and say your last goodbyes.

3. Make it personal

The way in which we mourn is changing, with the focus increasingly being placed on celebrating a life rather than mourning a death. Every life is unique and should be celebrated for its individuality. Elements of a funeral to consider personalising include:

Vehicles - an element of the service that can help reflect your personality or lifestyle is transportation. There's no need to opt for a black hearse, you can choose anything for a final send off from a tractor to a tank.

Location - there is no rule that says that the funeral service must take place in a church, other place of worship or crematorium. The choice of location is yours and may include hotels, sports halls, village halls, a racecourse, or even a castle.

Dress code - If you wish for your funeral to be a bright and colourful and celebratory affair, be sure to make your wishes known in advance so that your guests can dress appropriately. If you support a certain football club, you can even consider requesting football shirts for the occasion. It's a great way to incorporate your favourite pastime.

Coffin - Even coffins can be highly personalised, including the choice of material, from bamboo to wool, to the colour. They can be covered in personal messages, art by loved ones and special poems.

Music - If you're a particular fan of a certain TV show, film or song, select this for the entry/exit music and choose what you'd like people to associate your memory with.

Capture it - At most big occasions, there is usually a photographer in attendance to capture the day's activities. Why not request the same for your last celebration of life, so that loved ones can share with those unable to attend and look back on a truly personal and special event.

There really is no limit to what's possible when arranging a funeral. Join in the conversation online to share your ideas and thoughts, using #tacklethetaboo or visit for more information about the subjects and issues raised here.