Terminal Illness and Funeral Planning

When a family member’s serious illness has become terminal, you’ll experience many difficulties. It could be that their cancer has progressed to the point where remission is no longer possible, meaning that treatment will stop, and your loved one will transition to palliative (end-of-life) care.

The certainty of an impending death is unbelievably difficult to cope with. Your loved one may want to be involved in the planning of their own funeral, although this is not always the case.

Wrapping Up Their Affairs

Palliative care can involve a number of factors, most notably pain relief so that your loved one won’t be in any physical distress. Counselling is also a key component, in order to assist with the anxiety associated with their circumstances.

As an aspect of looking after their affairs, your loved one might wish to take a proactive role in the planning of their own funeral, but they could also find the process too morbid, and might wish to only have minor input. You won’t know unless you sensitively broach the subject.

Planning the Funeral

Taking a hands-on role in the planning of their own funeral can help to ease one of the many burdens your loved one is facing at this extremely difficult time. They’ll be happy to know that their funeral will be carried out in accordance with their wishes.

This planning can be as straightforward as an informal discussion to learn their preferences. These preferences should then be recorded into a list which can be shared with the funeral director.

Points to Talk About

There are key aspects of a funeral that must be decided upon. The funeral service and their subsequent intention for their remains are two important points:

  • The Nature of the Ceremony. Do they have any special requests for the service itself? Will it be a spiritual service, conducted in a church by the pastor? Or can it be held at the funeral home, overseen by a celebrant?
  • Guests. Do they have an approximate idea of who they want to attend the funeral? Should any people be deliberately excluded?
  • Flowers. Is there a certain type of flower or plant that they want as their floral arrangement at the service? Do they have a favourite charity or cause who could receive donations from mourners in lieu of sending flowers after they’ve passed away?
  • A Photograph. Do they have a favourite photo of themselves that they want to be displayed at the service? This can be helpful in that it helps them to choose the way they’re remembered.
  • Music. Are there any songs or compositions that they want to be played at the service? These could be religious hymns, or even just their favourite songs.
  • The Coffin or Casket. Ask if they have a particular choice for the type of casket or coffin for their burial.
  • Their Resting Place. Enquire about their preferred final resting place. Having a second choice is wise in case their first choice is already at capacity. This is an issue at some cemeteries.
  • Cremation. If they choose cremation, find out if they want their ashes to be kept by a family member, distributed amongst numerous family members, scattered in a specific place, or even buried, whether this is in a graveyard or on a family property.

Discussing the particulars of a funeral is always a delicate task, even more so when you’re discussing them with the person whose funeral it actually will be. Approach the topic with sensitivity and compassion, and bear in mind that it could all be a bit too much sometimes, and so might need to be planned in stages. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss the details.