Taking Charge of the Funeral

Blue Buddha DIY Funerals

From time to time when I have a few minutes to spare I think about my own funeral and DIY funerals in general. Often it’s on a car journey when I am by myself or in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. I am still not a hundred percent sure whether I want to be cremated or buried.

Having looked into the furnace at a crematorium, a part of me is drawn to the elemental power of fire and the sheer force of the heat involved. But I don’t like crematoriums and I much prefer the thought of a country churchyard or a natural burial ground as the place where my funeral would take happen. However, I am not a Christian and I don’t live in a village which rules out the country church burial!

What is clear to me, though, is I do not want to hand over the arrangements for my death to the funeral industry. I do not want hearses and men in black carrying my coffin. If I die at home, I would like to be washed and laid out by family and friends and for some kind of vigil to take place before rather than after the funeral. I like the idea of an Irish wake when friends, neighbours and family gather over the course of an evening and night, chatting, eating and drinking. I would like to be lying in a willow coffin, sealed or open depending on what I look like, with a few candles and some flowers nearby. Given my Buddhist beliefs, a small shrine to the Buddha would be a welcome final touch.

Involving friends, family and community

Over the last century and perhaps since the First World War, we have handed over the care of our dead to people who don’t know us. Gone are the days of local women in the village or the next street in a town washing and laying out bodies. Undertakers have ceased to be carpenters or tradespeople who also make the coffin and dig the grave. Professional bearers, invariably men, carry the coffin. We choose floral arrangements which follow funeral conventions rather than pick what is growing in the garden or the hedgerows. We hire hearses and limousines when we could use much more homely modes of transport like a friend’s van or even my own Honda Jazz.

I live my life surrounded by friends, family and community. I want to die without losing that connection. It feels such an obvious truth to me! DIY funerals can vary enormously in the degree to which they involve a funeral director. At Greenwood Funerals, we will always support and encourage people to take charge of the arrangements for a funeral as much as they wish, helping where needed or asked, and stepping back when our presence gets in the way. This goes to the heart of our ethos as a local funeral business.