How to Write Out Your Funeral Wishes
In an ideal world, you will not only be financially solvent enough to plan (and pay for) your funeral and cemetery plot in advance, but you’ll also be able to leave behind a full will and estate for your loved ones. There will be no question about your last wishes, funeral arrangements or how you want your belongings to be divided.
In the real world, this does not always happen. When money is tight or you are unable to take out a funeral or life insurance policy, pre-paying for your services might not be a choice.
Fortunately, you have funeral planning options even if you are unable to pre-plan a funeral in a formal or legal way. By sitting down and writing out your funeral wishes, you can at least leave behind a written document. Although your loved ones won’t be legally or financially required to comply, this document will serve as a guideline as they set about saying their goodbyes.
Funeral Wishes Template
Although you can (and should) include anything that is important to you on your funeral wishes guide, here are a few items to start with.
- Funeral Home: List the funeral home address, website, and phone number. If you have a particular funeral director in mind, include their name as well. You can also choose a cemetery at this time. (Bear in mind that unless you purchase a spot in advance, you may not be guaranteed one.)
- General Burial/Cremation Wishes: You can either go all out and select your casket in advance, or you can leave a more general idea like whether you want to be embalmed, if you want an open or closed casket, if you would prefer cremation, and even where and how to scatter your ashes.
- Religious/Spiritual/Literary Readings: Include the excerpt, the source material, and who you would like to perform the reading during the ceremony. (This includes contact information for the individual in case the person planning the funeral does not have direct access.)
- Musical Preferences: This can be an instrument you want played at the funeral, the person who will play it, a vocalist to do the singing, a list of songs to perform, or even a favorite album or playlist you want to have playing in the background.
- Eulogy/Speeches: Asking someone to give your eulogy is an incredibly meaningful thing to do, but it is not always easy. Make sure you talk to this person in advance so you know they’ll be open to the idea. (And include backup options in case they won’t be available.)
- Religious Leader: If you belong to a specific church or religious organization, include the name and number of the officiant you’d like to oversee the service.
Death does not have to be all doom and gloom, so don’t forget to include celebration options to your list. Choose your favorite bar or restaurant and encourage everyone to have a drink in your name. Ask everyone to skip the funeral flowers and throw a party instead. Choose music and readings that highlight your joys in life rather than your sorrows. One of the best gifts you can leave behind (other than a detailed funeral wish list) is encouragement to focus on the positive.