Don’t Go Like Your Hero Did…

In less than 500 words I invite you to think for yourself and think about others when making end-of life choices.

I’ve just read a post called How Celebrity Funerals Influence the Traditional Funeral. It explores the various influences that celebrities have had on the style of a leave-taking service or on a particular element – like the choice of a wicker casket. But it was the closing piece of that post that inspired the title of this post: Don’t Go Like Your Hero Did…

The final celebrity that the post mentions is David Bowie. You may or may not know that Bowie left specific instructions that he was to have a direct cremation. It was said that he wanted to slip away without fuss. The post finishes with a question: “What better way to show a lifelong commitment to a musical or celebrity hero of yours than to go out in the same way?”

Let it be noted that funerals, memorials, thanksgiving services or whatever you want to call a leave taking ceremony is not held for the dead – they are held for the living. When you instruct people not to have a funeral for you, you are denying them an opportunity to express their grief and loss, to be thankful for the presence you were in their life as well as to be able to pay tribute, honour or celebrate the life that you lived.

You might have heard that David Bowie’s family did hold a private service and they also recognised the importance that memorial opportunities, although unofficial, would play for so many people around the globe. Similarly, I know of families who discovered, only upon the death of a family member, that instructions had been left in their will that there would be no funeral.

There may be many reasons why people think a funeral is not important or appropriate. Finances. Opportunists. Excessive shows of emotion. Thinking they are not worth the fuss or attention. Funerals can be large, theatrical, grand, public and expensive… Or they can be small, low-key, simple, private and economical or some combination.

So if you have a preference, have a conversation. Let those who will be responsible for taking care of the arrangements when you die know what you would like. Keep in mind the people who live on after your death, more often than not, benefit from the opportunity to express their feelings about your death, to share stories about their experiences of knowing you and to celebrate the presence you were in their lives.

Having the conversation can be challenging for both parties. But there is so much potential to improve our ability to have these conversations.  You might like to read more about the opposite side of the “no funeral for me” coin – what happens when people plan every element of their leave-taking service.

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 Commemoration Specialist and funeral celebrant in Melbourne, Australia. She loves capturing stories of the nature of life and being human and 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 and thinking on dying, death, mourning and grief.

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