This whole article was prompted by listening to Justine Greene on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire this morning talking about weddings and funerals, along with one of my fellow local colleagues Judy Mansfield from Cherish Ceremonies, and the Rev. Canon Tom Farrell from Christ the King Catholic Church who were both guests. Incredibly, as funeral professionals, we are all singing from the same hymn sheet (so to speak) which is rewarding to hear….I rang in to the show to add my piece and offer up my funeral music selection. You can listen to the whole show here – it’s a really good episode with some great music too. Judy and Father Tom feature at about 1h20 into the show, I come on at 2h18…

On to my article….

There is a fair bit of media coverage recently prompted by the Sky News Presenter Colin Brazier’s request for those who attend his wife’s funeral not to wear bright colours.
I totally respect his request and his feelings – a funeral is a time to say goodbye in a way that is right for each family, and the person that has died. The thing is, in my opinion, there is no right or wrong. There is only what is right for each family.

I’m writing this blog from two angles; one with my professional celebrant hat on, the other thinking about what I want from my own funeral. And yes – I have written down my wishes for those left behind – I see too often first hand, how difficult it is and the added stress that families are under whilst trying to grieve and make ‘the right decisions’ when making funeral arrangements, particularly when they have no idea what their loved one wanted. Actually, I have to point out, that not all funerals are for ‘loved’ ones – that is term that is used so liberally. Some people aren’t well liked. There, I said it. It happens.

For me? Well yes, sure I want to people to cry and mourn at my funeral – if they don’t I’ll have something to say about it! But I also want people to remember the good times that we shared – the laughter, the dance, the song and the really bad singing. That is probably what they’ll remember most!

I want people to wear whatever they are comfortable in – it can be black, it can be colour. It’s their choice.

Music wise – I’m going to have a mash up. Jennifer Lopez, Bob Marley, Eternal’s ‘Just a Step from Heaven’, and a gospel choir singing Amazing Grace.

BUT, not every funeral needs music. It is important to make that known. Many funerals include 2 or pieces of music because that’s how people think it needs to be structured, i.e. something on the way in, something on the way out, and perhaps something in the middle as a silent piece for reflection. That’s great – but it doesn’t have to be that way. When I meet with families to discuss the ceremony, I emphasise that this needn’t be the case by any stretch.
Last week I had a funeral that ended on ‘Return to Sender’ by Elvis (brilliant right?!) whilst one of my funerals next week occurs over two days: a very public and what will be a well-attended ceremony on day 1 filled with celebratory music and personal tributes to celebrate a life, followed by a very private and intimate family farewell the following day, with NO music. Just a single prayer. That’s all. It is truly my privilege to facilitate them all.

I rang in to the show to add my piece and to give them my funeral music choices. From one Justine to another – thank you for ending the show on Angel by Sarah McLachlan…

What’s your style?