Your Choices Matter

You may have heard the term ‘bespoke’ with respect to furniture, architecture or building. It means ‘designed to fit’ you, your style and your choices.

Did you know you can also have a bespoke funeral?

I guess, some of you might be thinking that by bent of it being your funeral, then it would have to be bespoke. On one level that would be so. But there are many conditions that funeral homes or directors can place on individuals as well as families.

Two recent events have prompted me to write on this idea. The first was a conversation with a husband, who had engaged me to create and lead the commemorative and celebratory services for his wife. The husband told me that a friend  – who had been at one of the two services (read funeral services) – loved what I had done and was keen to engage me for her father’s imminent funeral.

On engaging a large funeral firm, they were told that they were not welcome to select their own celebrant as the company had their own in house celebrants. Let me make it clear, when it comes to your loved one’s funeral, your choice lies in your ability to find a more flexible funeral director.

What some funeral company’s bank on is the degree of difficulty, on an emotional level, that exploring other options creates for families… Whether it be your choice of celebrant, venue, music, flowers or coffin. There exists too many ‘a tidy package’ that comes “off the shelf” – the one size fits most approach.

We live in an era where the pursuit of happiness seems to preclude experiencing any more sadness and grief than is absolutely necessary. This means that for some they might seem to avoid any pain altogether. Thus, we see less funerals and more direct cremations or burials. We see more quickly planned and held funerals that aim to minimise the time spent in grief and sadness. It comes at a significant cost. The importance of personalised commemoration of the lives of loved ones cannot be understated. The impact of unexpressed, rushed and ignored grief has long term and far more significant impacts than most might imagine.

So, what’s a better way? Do a little bit or research. It doesn’t mean you have to pre-pay, pre-plan or sort out every last detail. What it means is establishing a relationship with a celebrant, arranger or funeral care provider that is reminiscent of the ‘old family doctor’ days. Explore some options. Understand that guilt about money or the associated ‘appearance’ of money expended can have you pay far more for a service than you need too. Consider the kind of relationship that matters… Do you prefer a personal or more distant connection, the benefit of experience or fresh eyes, traditional or bespoke options, going with what has worked or finding something even better. Consider the role of personal involvement in practical planning as a way of dealing with grief or whether the ‘stress of it all’ means handing over totally responsibility works for you.

In the overwhelm of grief, expected or unexpected, thinking about these questions can seem impossible. Regretting the opportunity lost to truly celebrate a life, of rushing through the practicalities to avoid grief or being blinded by guilt or regret for recent or long past events can be much harder to bear in the long run.

A little more conversation and a little exploration can make for easier end-of-life experiences for everyone. If you want some help about where to start, ask me how.

Making end-of-life experiences easier for everyone…

We have just one life…

Jacqui Chaplin

Independent Funeral Information | Life Story Collector & Writer | End of Life Tributes | Easier End of Life Experiences | Funeral Planning and Celebrancy

Just One Life… doing and designing dying and death differently and with dignity and distinction.

For more information on doing dying and death differently or to start thinking about how to handle a death of a loved one before you are overtaken by grief, organise a conversation with Jacqui today.

Call +61 (0)412 741 531 or email

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Jacqui Chaplin is a Lifetime & End-of-Life Commemoration Specialist (a funeral celebrant among other things) based in Melbourne, Australia. She loves capturing stories about the nature of life and being human, as well as, celebrating and commemorating well lived lives and lives that have ended. Jacqui has a passion for bringing the conversations that many of us find difficult to think about, let alone speak about, out in the open so we can see how our stories, values and beliefs influence our attitudes.

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