Do you know what the one thing is that we all have in common? We are all going to die. We very rarely know where, when or how, but we shall all die.
Did you realise that, unless the deceased person has left specific requests, the next of kin may choose the type of funeral ceremony; church or crematorium; priest or other type of celebrant; the coffin and trimmings; burial or cremation; wake or no wake; memorial service or none; flowers or no flowers; money to charity; and so on? However, I believe that, of all the choices that have to be made, the most important is the undertaker or funeral director who will look after you and help you with your decisions.
In the Taunton area we are very fortunate that there are many funeral directors from whom we may choose. At no time should one feel pressurised about whom one chooses: it is an individual decision. When my husband, Ian, died very suddenly, I asked Anthony James (of Taunton Funeral Service) to undertake all the arrangements and we sat down together and talked everything through soon after Ian had died. I valued Anthony’s experience and his wisdom, as well as his compassion. For me, with Anthony’s help, the whole experience, though desperately sad, was seamless and I never felt I had to worry about anything and could concentrate on the process of grieving. If I was concerned about anything, however trivial, Anthony was at the end of the telephone or we could communicate by e-mail or in person.
So may I suggest that, if one has to suffer a bereavement, choose your funeral director with care and ask around to find out whom others would recommend. Never feel coerced into accepting the first funeral director one may be offered or who may come forward. Even if your loved one’s body has been collected from the place of death by an undertaker, you do not have to commit to that particular undertaker: you may still make choices. When it comes to payment, the funeral director will give you a quote and will try to stay within that budget. I found that, once the funeral is over, they are very good about not being in a hurry for their payment.
I personally believe that it is very important to have a funeral or some sort of marking of the passing so that people can be sad, can grieve and have the chance to say a proper farewell or goodbye.
I honestly believe that we should all be facing up to our own and our loved ones’ deaths and we should be talking about death, especially within the family, making our wishes known.
After all, we are all born and we all have to die. Talking about death should not be a taboo subject or an embarrassment: it is something that will come to all of us.
Jean Ainsworth Smith