A funeral plan is a good excuse to talk about yourself. After all, a funeral should be the one thing in life and death that is all about you. It seems a shame, therefore, that so many people never get the chance to be part of it while they can still enjoy it.
It always seems sad when the love and longing that surfaces at a funeral has not been shared with the person at the centre of the day. Talking about a funeral plan with family and friends when death is still a distant prospect starts to fill that gap.
It seems, too, to help those left behind to cope with the loss. They have been part of the planning, perhaps in choosing music or passages for reading, perhaps in knowing the right flowers to give or charities to support.
For many, death is still the great unmentionable. But it is also the great inevitable. Talking about it at a time when emotions are cool helps to celebrate rather than mourn the life and can bring people closer. It can, actually, help people talk about life – so often another great unmentionable! To talk about what is important now – not just to the older person whose funeral is being planned but to the younger people, who will carry out the arrangements.
And what a gift that is.
A chance to wonder about what really matters in life and living. A look ahead to what you might like to look back on – not something young or even middle-aged people often think about. It’s a conversation that can make a difference to a life that is far from death.
Another benefit is the way talking about a funeral plan, when death is still far away, can somehow demystify death, even help to make it part of life.
It can lead to laughs, perhaps to some tears but, in the end, to good, happy memories that can uplift people when the death does come and carry them through the funeral with the sure knowledge that this was how their loved one wanted it.
Jean Silvan Evans