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Do you have to have a funeral if you don't want one?

(20 Posts)
Gunnerbean Fri 01-Aug-08 21:18:28

My mother has told me that she doesn't want a funeral and we were wondering how to go about it.

I know that the usual thing is to call and undertaker following a death to make all the funeral arrangments etc but is it possile to just paid one to take the body away from the place of death and then make the necessary arrangements for cremation of the body?

I am totally in agreement with my mother as I feel the same way and wouldn't like to have a funeral for myself either when teh time comes. We both believe that once you are dead the spirit lives on around us and the body is simply an empty shell.

We both consider funerals to be awkward, upsetting and moorkish ad have never found to them to be remotely comforting - quite the opposite in fact.

Does anyone have any experiences of people not having a funeral?

PilgrimSoul Fri 01-Aug-08 21:50:00

TBH, I believe funerals are for the living not the dead, so am uncomfortable with anyone dictating what their funeral arrangements should be.

However, of course it is possible to pay an undertaker to dispose of the body according to the legal codes of the day.

morningpaper Fri 01-Aug-08 21:58:12

Have you been to a funeral at a crematorium?

What do you/she object to about that exactly?

I think that a funeral is very important as a form of 'closure' for lots of people, especially young people. People need a little time and space to think.

Smithagain Fri 01-Aug-08 21:58:40

I don't have any experience of it. I guess you could contact an undertaker and ask them.

I think that if you decide to respect her wishes, you may need to come up with some other way for people to "pay their respects". Because for many people, funerals ARE very important, in terms of really grasping that the person is gone. You could really upset other family/friends if they don't have the opportunity and don't understand why.

I really don't know what it would be - ask them to plant a tree, make a donation, sign a book or something, so that they can, if they feel the need to.

Cappuccino Fri 01-Aug-08 22:01:10

yes utterly what pilgrim says

my mum is a bereavement counsellor and she says the same

it's not for the dead person they are dead

it is a closure ritual for the living; fair enough you might think them mawkish but actually when the time comes and it is someone close you may well want to gather all the family around to honour someone's memory

also do not underestimate the importance of having Something Practical To Do following a death

AvenaLife Fri 01-Aug-08 22:01:59

I feel this way. I hate them. My dad died a couple of months ago and he was cremated. It was more of a celebration and rememberance of his life more than anything else. I believe his spirit is somewhere else. It's just an acknowlegment that his soul is somewhere else. I wouldn't have gone if I had a choice. I remember him in my own way.

S1ur Fri 01-Aug-08 22:02:08

AGree that funerals have an important role to play for the living.

There are a LOT of different ways a funeral can be done. Or some sort of other activity that allows people chance to talk about person or remember etc.

Legally, my sil is undertaker and I seem to recall there is NO absolute law about needing ceremony just legalities about disposal iyswim.

MaryAnnSingleton Fri 01-Aug-08 22:04:10

Take a look at the Natural Death Handbook for alternatives -I do think though that the closure bit that a funeral represents is very important to those left behind - funerals can be different from what you imagine them to be...

MaryAnnSingleton Fri 01-Aug-08 22:05:53

natural death org here

Gunnerbean Fri 01-Aug-08 22:12:10

I think it's that which my mother is thinking of PilgrimSoul.

She hates funerals as I do too and she is aware that I would be the "living" making all the arrangements (which is not something I remotely want to have to do). I'm quite happy to accommodate her wish not to have one.

I think that everyone should be encouraged to remember the deceased in their own special way and this is something very personal to everyone.

I'm sure that many people loathe funerals and don't relish the thought of attending them one little bit. I don't think funerals give people the "closure" they're supposed to. They just put peoples' grief on public display and are generally a harrowing ordeal.

I applaud my mother for having the courage to turn her back on the whole ritual. There are people in the family who think her idea is not on at all but I think she's .right to make a decision that feels right for her and those closest to her.

Hassled Fri 01-Aug-08 22:21:08

I can't emphasize enough how important my parents' funerals were to me - and I'm a devout atheist. I needed that ritual, and the closure - I needd a formal opportunity to say goodbye. They are awkward and upsetting but they fulfill a valuable purpose - and couldn't agree more with what others have said, that it's not what you want, it's what your children and the rest of the family will need.

Smithagain Sat 02-Aug-08 18:40:29

Gunnerbean - to what extent have you discussed this with other family members and/or your mother's friends?

Gunnerbean Tue 05-Aug-08 16:23:19

We have a very small family and my mother has no real close friends. Ohter than absolute immediate family, I'd imagie the only others who would want to come would be acquaintances, possibly the odd ex work colleague and a few neighbours and ex neighbours and maybe the odd friend of mine who knew my mother and who would feel they ought to go for my sake maybe - so no one who would be really dreadfully upset about her passing I'd imagine and certaibly not the sort of people who would should be consulted about her funeral arrangemnts.

All these people would be more like people who may feel they ought to go for appearances sake. This again, is an aspect that we don't like - the looking around at the gathering and noticing that so and so is not there which can be upsetting too.

When my mother dies I will remember her every single day for the rest of my life. Going to her funeral will not lessen my grief at the time I'm sure.

My mother only feels it necessary to consult me on her plans and I'm very happy to respect them. She has a sister who is a very devout christian and she will think it absolutely awaful that she won;t be having one but you never know, she might not even be around herself when the time comes.

Gunnerbean Tue 05-Aug-08 16:27:27

Oh, and I forgot to add that there will be plenty of practical things to do after the event - winding up her estate and dealig with her belongings etc.

I know I will dread her funeral when it arrives and will not be able to cope with either arranging it or attending it. Ironically, I think that she knows this and part of what has informed her decision is so that I don't have to go through it all so it is not a selfish wish of hers at all but very thoughtful.

It is lucky that it suits us both.

sarah293 Tue 05-Aug-08 16:30:55

Message withdrawn

onceinalifetime Tue 05-Aug-08 16:39:14

I wouldn't want a funeral and most of my family don't want one either. My stepfather died recently and his body was donated to the medical department of a university for research - not in the UK so not sure if that sort of things exists here. Friends and family thought this was a noble thing to do as it could help others in the future.

A month later, at the request of friends, we had a get together at one of his favourite venues - a memorial service, I suppose but not religious - where we had drinks and a small buffet and put a montage of photos of his life on display and each family member said a few words. It was very upbeat and not at all morbid.

msappropriate Tue 05-Aug-08 16:42:05

My aunt stipulated she did not want one and we went with her wishes. Although several months later we had lunch and a get together. Having been to and organised many other relatives funerals (mother, grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, great auntss) this was just as nice a way to think about her. I did not feel the lack of one at all.

Gunnerbean Tue 05-Aug-08 18:15:59

Oh Riven, how terrible sad I'm so sorry to hear about your DD. Young peoples' funerals are just the worst of all IMHO. No parent should ever have to attend their child's funeral. My thoughts are very much with you.

I take your point about the cost too. The cost of a funeral can be astronomical and one which many people can ill afford yet the huge pressure to have a funeral makes them pay. It's a huge industry. I loathe the thought of huge, costly extravagant weddings too. Weddings and funerals are all about ritual and keeping up appearances and very little else in many cases in my view.

Grieving for a dear loved one, loving them and wanting to cherish their memory will happen regardless of whether you have a funeral or not.

I think it is analgous to a wedding. A big ho-ha wedding is for some people but not for others who like to slip away and do it quietly. Dying should be the same. Not everyone wants a huge funeral. I cant understand why it seems to be anathama not to want to have one.

I don't believe for one second that attending my mother's funeral (or the funeral of anyone else I love deeply for that matter) will be of any comfort to me, offer me any sort of "closure" or ease my grief. It will be a traumatic and harrowing ordeal.

Anyway, it's so lovely to hear of the special ways in which others' have remembered their loved ones without going through the ritual of a funeral and putting their grief (which is often so raw due to the need to have a funeral so soon after the death) on very public display.

I think it's a lovely idea to take time to grieve, let the dust settle in the immediate aftermath of a loss and then remember your loved one in an well thought out and intimate way with the people who meant the most to them - without all the ritual.

I will always have an abiding memory of my poor auntie who was so stricken with grief at my uncle's funeral having nursed him intensively through a long and harrowing illness. She was drained and the funeral arrangements and attending the funeral itself almost pushed her over the edge.

I guess not having a funeral will never be an option for some people and their families.

I think it's refreshing to look at it another way and to see that you do have a choice and that you shouldn't be seen as selfish for not wanting one.

Thanks to you all for sharing your thoughts, opinions and exopereinces and especially to Riven.

sarah293 Tue 05-Aug-08 18:53:19

Message withdrawn

onceinalifetime Wed 06-Aug-08 00:34:54

Oh gosh Riven, I'm so sorry - I hope you find the right way to deal with the situation when it arises but I hope it's not for a very long time and that your dd surpasses all expectations in terms of her health and life expectancy.

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