Funeral advice / experiences please.

(28 Posts)
Theas18 Fri 20-Feb-15 15:56:31

Well I seem to function best with stuff to do so im doing it, ir trying too.

Mum died on Monday. Am trying to sketch out the announcement notes and service details- which bloody hard as dad, who knew the stuff I need to know has dementia sad

We want a celebration of a life well lived not a devastatedly heartbroken service - that would do me in!

DS is doing the eulogy - he's going to call mums sister for early details thrn I think move on to family life and being a grandma which she just adored doing.

Hymns to be decided- would love to know what worked for you, we wanted a hymn from the wedding but no one can remember sad

Readings ? Suggestions welcome

I also want to do pew cards / a book with memories of her to get filled in. Does " when I remember x I smile when I think...." Seem a good start?

Also how do put " please don't wear black, where what you like " as a dress code?

Hope this is the right place to post this ... Thanks for reading

TotheBarricades Fri 20-Feb-15 16:12:19

Hi Thea. First things first, I am so sorry about your Mum. Bet she would be proud of you right now, though.

OK - I have organised two funerals and the only advice is do it your way.

At my Mum's we chose songs that meant something (I suppose a bit like Desert Island Discs). Or is it a religious ceremony? The Lord is my Shepherd is truly beautiful when well sang. All things bright and beautiful? As you can't find out about your Mum's marriage, what about a hymn from your wedding?

A friend read a Shakespeare sonnet at her Mum's funeral. There are many beautiful poems out there.

My Mum did a photo collage for my Nan and we have kept that up - putting up lots of photos at funerals. I love the idea of you starting the Memory book with one of your own. I still have a book mark from a Great-Uncle's funeral.

Of course, you can tell people to dress in other colours.

Take care.

twentyten Sun 22-Feb-15 08:55:11

Oh Thea I am so very sorry to hear about your mum. I hope she was peaceful. Funerals- one hymn we used for my df was "the day thou gavest" which is quite gentle but not too sombre.
Have you thought about flowers? For my dmil my fil wanted lots of flowers- we compromised on some from immediate family and a collection for a cancer charity.
Do say that you would like people to come in colours they choose.
Sending you brewbrewbrew and strength.

Theas18 Sun 22-Feb-15 18:01:30

Thanks both.

I guess I just have to accept I just have to get on and do this. Hope no one is insensitive enough to say anything even if I accidentally choose something I like but she'd hate !

Rowgtfc72 Sun 22-Feb-15 19:04:09

Sorry for your loss.
Dad wasn't religious so we went into Glenn Millers Moonlight Seranade. That's played on loop through our childhood. We had Nimrod as a reflective piece and The Beatles Get by with a little help from my friends. He had lots of friends, seemed apt.
Afterwards we laid out photos and certificates and other things of dads. Everybody really appreciated learning things they didn't know about dad and started telling stories my brother and I had never heard. I like the sound of your pew cards.
As much as it was an awful thing to have to do, it felt good to give dad a send off he'd enjoy.

Kahlua4me Sun 22-Feb-15 19:21:28

Sorry for your loss. Your memory book idea sounds really lovely.

We were asked to wear something colourful to a funeral recently. It was explained as, wear something colourful if you can, even if only a tie or a scarf, but if you prefer, wear black. As long as you are with us we don't mind.

I have just typed "positive funeral poems" into google and found several sites with some lovely poems. Hopefully you will find something there to suit and remind you of your mum.

I like this one.

Autumn Rain - Mary Frye, 1932

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am that swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.

magimedi Sun 22-Feb-15 19:45:01

I quite like this one:

You can shed tears that she is gone

Or you can smile because she has lived


You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left


Your heart can be empty because you can't see her

Or you can be full of the love that you shared


You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday


You can remember her and only that she is gone

Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on


You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back

Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.


written 1981

David Harkins 1959 -

Silloth, Cumbria, UK


And I truly love this one:

Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967). Picture-Show. 1920.

34. Everyone Sang

EVERYONE suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on—on—and out of sight. 5

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

magimedi Sun 22-Feb-15 19:48:00

And as for hymns - I do think you need one with a tune that the majority of people know.

They need to be able to stand up, clear their throats & sing!

For All The Saints is a a great favourite of mine:

www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh463.htm

magimedi Sun 22-Feb-15 19:52:19

Pressed post too soon - at my mother's funeral (& it was her request) we had Jerusalem.

It worked well - everyone knew it & sang - but I did have a moment of wondering how Mum, the uber Tory, would have liked such a revolutionary hymn.

Thea - may I say that it is time for you to take some rest. You must be running on empty.

Theas18 Sun 22-Feb-15 21:38:36

Thanks all.

Magi im not going into work till after the funeral. You are right, I'm running on empty and my job means I am going to be in emotional situations and I can't just fall apart. I haven't even been alone really yet since, ive been a wee tortoise all retreated into the protective shell of my family. I'm even taking my 15yr old tomorrow to mums and to see dad - with the aim of sending her back on the train and staying over myself but we'll see.

Hymn- love divine - tune blaenwirn ( big Welsh sing,I'm bringing enough singers to carry it off well- as you say a good sing is always good )

Readings 23rd psalm and the love bit from St paul letter to the Romans ( we had it at our wedding).

So I think its " stitched up" for the minister to see.

Thanks for those poems too. Very uplifting.

Asked my sis about the tunes of our childhood - she remembers Danny larue , herb Alpert and the sound track of Joseph so I'm not sure ....there's probably a Danny larue " wish me luck as you wave me goodbye " ������
Going to see if there is music in dads head from their youth - and if there is can we access it ...

Oldieandgoldie Sun 22-Feb-15 21:56:37

When it was my dads funeral, we (I!), chose a meaningful, lively upbeat, well-known tune to leave the crem by; it meant people left the crem, (and my dad), with a smile on their faces.

I've read all your posts over the past few weeks...having been in a similar situation, much sympathy to you and your family. It's not a good position to be in. But..........eventually..........it does get easier. Please take care of you and yours.

ArcheryAnnie Mon 23-Feb-15 09:53:24

Dear Theas18, I'm really sorry you have lost your mum. thanks

On the music - we are another family which chose music my mum liked. And if she didn't - well, nobody was crass enough to mention it! And non-trad music (inc Herb Alpert!) is fine. We had the theme tune from Famous Late 70s Film at my dad's funeral, and nobody turned a hair.

I think your wording of "please don't wear black, wear what you like" is fine. Maybe even "Please wear exactly what you like - black really not necessary unless that's what you like to wear anyway." (I say this as many people have smart trousers in black and no other colours, unless you are happy for people to turn up in jeans, etc - which you may well be.)

Look after yourself. xx

MadameSin Mon 23-Feb-15 18:06:07

Theas18 So sorry you have lost your mum. My sister in law died a few years ago and we had a book of condolence, if you want to call it that. We bought it in John Lewis and it was left at the 'after party' (as she would have called it) for anyone to write a message/memory in. We also had a large pin-board and aked eveyone to bring a photo of her, with or without them in it too, and write on the back where it was taken, when and any msg. We asked that all the 'guests' wore something she would have liked to see them in - that way, we avoided traditional black attire. All your ideas are lovely. We had a Celebrant to carry out the service, as we are not religious and neither was she. This was my reading:

"You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all she's left

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she's gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she'd want:
smile
open your eyes
love and go on"

I'm sure whatever you do for your mum, will be beautiful.

PingPongBat Tue 24-Feb-15 09:45:08

Hi Theas, how are you coping? I naively thought would go to work a bit this week, but am finding it impossible to face. So I'm not at work either, like you I have emotional stuff to deal with at work which would reduce me to a small heap.

I've been following this thread with interest for my Mum's funeral next week.

I've been reading through her wishlist for music
- harp music to come in to
- La Mer (sung by Charles Trenet) (perhaps for the 'reflective' piece)
- Jerusalem ("people like something rousing" she said)
- Strauss ("but not anything too rousing like a Waltz"(!)) to go out - personally I think we should have something uplifting so not sure abut this.

Does anyone have any ideas where to start with harp music?

We've got a civil celebrant coming to see us tomorrow, DB1 is writing a eulogy, DB2 looking at venues for the wake.

Oh help - flowers - only just thought of that.

When you send the info about the funeral out, how much detail do people expect? Location and date obv, but what about what to wear, flowers/donations etc?

Theas18 Tue 24-Feb-15 09:49:39

Ping being the control freaks we are it says everything - dress code. Family flowers only, donations to (a local charity that meant so much to them over the last few years rather than a big charity who wouldn't notice a relatively small donation ) and details of the tea after.

Harp music - great idea. I'll have a look for you

PingPongBat Tue 24-Feb-15 10:12:47

Control freak?! erm, yes, I guess so blush. Even though DB1 is supposed to be 'organising' the funeral, and I am supposed to be taking a back seat, I just can't. So I shouldn't really moan when he doesn't think of everything. And to be fair, he's grieving too, of course.

I'm quite liking the idea of a book of memories for the wake, but I'm not sure what dad would think. Mum wrote her memoirs a few years ago and perhaps it would complement them. We are getting so many lovely messages from family and friends around the globe that it would be good to record them somewhere.

Theas18 Tue 24-Feb-15 15:15:37

Ping I didn't mean you were a control freak but that all chez theas18 are ! Sorry

PingPongBat Tue 24-Feb-15 18:30:59

No offence taken at all, don't worry smile

twentyten Fri 27-Feb-15 11:37:07

How are you both doing ping pong and thea? Hope things are going as smoothly as possible. thanksthanks

PingPongBat Fri 27-Feb-15 12:46:23

Oh god, where do I start? Dad is 'faffing' & gets distracted every 5 minutes. Keeps going on about probate. We only have 6 'working days' between mum dying and the funeral so we've been struggling to get everything booked and everyone informed. He wanted to send the invitation emails but loads got lost in people's spam folders and had to be sent again or phone calls made. I think we've finally contacted everyone though, and there will be about 60 or 70 people there.

As ever I've been driving everything forward apart from the location of the wake, which DB2 sorted out. Order of Service has gone to the printers & we should get the proofs by Monday afternoon, which is a good thing as the funeral is Tuesday morning... DB1 is doing the main eulogy, DB2 reading She is Gone, & I'm going to try and read something about mum's work in the community. DD is still intending to read a poem and has found one on the internet which is fine, she's adding a verse of her own.

Just about to go & fetch dad to go to the crematorium & hotel so we know what to expect. Then I need to think about clothes - for him, me and DD. Dad's wardrobe is mostly walking trousers and t-shirts, so goodness knows if he's got anything suitable. Probably not! Mum used to sort this sort of thing out sad

Theas18 Fri 27-Feb-15 14:19:03

Oh PPB. It's so bloody hard isn't it. I am not even sure what, out of the houseful of clothes will fit dad if anything, and he can't really try thrm on in advance either. Take your dad to m&s or something and make him get a nice tidy pair of trousers, shirt etc if needed.

Dads ill too now sad

PingPongBat Fri 27-Feb-15 16:05:39

Certainly is Theas, went to the crem & hotel today with Dad, which was very useful, but dad was totally distracted by other issues. So I left him swearing at his computer - DB2 can deal with him later! Didn't even raise the subject of clothes. Maybe tomorrow.

I can't imagine getting dad into M&S - on suggesting it he is likely to say something like "what on earth for? I've got plenty of serviceable clothes here! ... mutter mutter.... <rummages through wardrobe> oh, damn, where are they, oh bugger it, that shirt I was going to wear is in France, which reminds me, I must find out about the car... did you know the DVLA are a bunch of idiots?..." etc etc.

twentyten Mon 02-Mar-15 11:45:03

Sending unmumsnetty hugs to thea and ping pong. Thinking of you. thanksthanks

PingPongBat Thu 05-Mar-15 19:11:13

Now that the funeral is over, I've thought a bit about what was good and what wasn't so good. We had 72 people at a small crematorium chapel, then a lunch about 20 mins drive away at a small hotel.

Good:
- we included a couple of hymns with choral accompaniment (provided by the crematorium) which boosted the singing & made the sound much fuller
- the crematorium music system had cut down versions of the hymns so you could choose which verses to use - useful when you only have 45 mins to file in, have the service and file out, we had 3 verses from each hymn which was perfect
- using a civil celebrant recommended by the Funeral Directors - she helped us through designing the ceremony and guided us, using her experience, when choosing whether to have curtain closed/open at the end etc, what words to say at each point
- having a sign or code to indicate to the celebrant whether or not you can carry on reading a tribute - my DD managed a few lines of her poem, but then a quick shake of the head and the celebrant knew to stand with her straight away to finish it with her
- including the Lord's Prayer - to give those who are religious (Mum was a doubter and the rest of us not religious at all) a chance to pray
- having an upbeat piece of music at the end, with a couple of sentences read by the celebrant to explain why we had chosen it. We left with a smile on our faces.
- DF, DBs & I all practised the route from home to crematorium to wake, twice. It sill didn't prepare us for the roadworks and traffic lights that sprang up overnight, but it was still useful to know where we were going. And it lessened the impact of arriving at the crematorium on the day, just a little.

Not so good:
- only having 6 working days between mum's death and the funeral. It was a challenge getting everything sorted out in time, with the orders of service only ready the afternoon before the service (which was the following morning)
- arriving just 20 mins before the hearse - everyone was there and I felt very exposed when we arrived.

We didn't state a dress code, which no-one asked about so I don't think it bothered anyone. We didn't even notice whether people were wearing black or not.

Hymns were Dear Lord and Father of Mankind and The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended.

'She is Gone' poem by David Harker was incredibly difficult for my DB to read. He said he'd read it out loud by himself over and over again to try beforehand.

twentyten Thu 05-Mar-15 21:08:45

Oh pingpong. Thank you for updating- how are you doing? You must be exhausted. I love the day thou gavest- we had that at my df' funeral. It seemed so right. Look after yourself.

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