The Importance of Honouring Your Loved One's Funeral Wishes

By: Ian Elliott
Thursday, April 21, 2016

A loved one just passed away and has left a list of last wishes. Sometimes funeral wishes can be straightforward such as playing a particular song, or requesting that donations be made to a favourite charity in lieu of flowers. Difficulties arise when your loved one’s funeral wishes go against your own wishes or belief system.

Why It’s Important to Follow Through with Last Wishes

Your loved one left specific instructions as to how he or she would like to be remembered. People often don’t have control over many things in their lives including when or how they die but want to list out last wishes to maintain dignity and ensure loved ones are not burdened financially.

A funeral or memorial service is intended to be a celebration of life and a farewell. If your loved one’s funeral wishes are contrary to your own, remember that the day is about the decedent and try to understand his or her perspective. Honouring last wishes is a way of respecting the decedent.

Common Last Requests

Here are a few common last requests that families often have difficulty coming to terms with:

  • No funeral. Sometimes people don’t want a funeral as they feel it is a financial burden to their family, or they don’t want their family and friends to go through with the trouble of arranging one. If not having a funeral makes you feel uneasy, there are other ways to commemorate your loved one such as:
    • Have a dinner with close friends and family
    • Have a graveside memorial
    • Buy a commemorative inscription for a loved one’s favourite park bench
    • Plant a tree or garden of the deceased’s favourite flowers
  • Cremation vs. Burial. The debate of cremation vs. burial is deeply personal and often has to do with ingrained beliefs and religion. We strongly suggest you follow the deceased’s wishes when it comes to the type of burial they want as it can’t be undone and you may feel regret down the road for going against your loved one’s wishes.

How to Ensure your Funeral Wishes are Honoured

If you have specific funeral wishes you want to be honoured and want to ensure they are followed. Writing a will is the first step. While it’s not necessary to complete this with a lawyer or notary, it’s recommended you do so to ensure safe storage. In British Columbia, if you give written instructions in your will or in a pre-need funeral contract regarding instructions for final disposition; then the person looking after the final arrangements must follow those instructions unless it could be considered unreasonable, impractical or cause a hardship. Is there someone you can trust to assign as an executor?  It’s best to think of a backup executor as well as the first person may refuse this role.

Some people also wish to pre-arrange parts of the funeral service with a funeral home and pre-pay for a portion of the costs.

Whether you have a funeral, graveside service, or simply a gathering of close family and friends, the ability to come together, mourn and celebrate the life of your loved one is a vital part of the healing process.

Arbutus Funeral Service is a family-owned funeral home in Langley, BC.  For help with all matters of funeral arrangements, please call us at 604-888-9895 or contact us anytime.


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