Planning a funeral/celebration

Has anyone any advice on what to do when close friends continually challenge your choice to have a funeral service for family only and a later celebration event for friends? Struggling to know how to respond without damaging 30 year relationships!

This is a very difficult choice to have to make. You must do what is right for you and feels right. If so called ‘friends’ don’t like the way you grieve and want to do things their way then you have to question their true friendship.
No true friend would ever push you into doing something that made you feel bad. Your emotions are raw, don’t allow anyone to make it worse.
If that’s what you want then that’s what happens. But there may be very close friends who may want to attend the funeral, and that’s where it becomes difficult to make decisions. People may feel ‘left out’ which could certainly cause relationships problems.
I still think it’s your decision, but like all things in life you will never please everyone all the time.
Have you anyone close to discuss this with? Perhaps someone who is objective, not involved?
I’m so sorry all this comes on top of bereavement when you are at your most vulnerable. Making decisions in the early stages of grief is nigh impossible.
Take it easy and take care.I’m sorry not to have been more helpful.

1 Like

I chose not to have a funeral it was my husbands wish. We had a family celebration of his life a few months later, when I felt I could cope with it all.
You haven’t got to do what people expect of you, do what you feels best, when it feels best.
I have a lovely Arbour in my garden, which I have created into a memorial garden.
I sit in there and reflect its my quiet time. He used to be always down the garden and requested to have his ashes scattered there.
Do what you feel is best for you, don’t feel pressurised, or feel guilty about your choice.


Perfectly helpful, thank you, and echoes what other friends have said. I sort of understand where they are coming from and know they are grieving too. But I cannot imagine doing the same if the situations were reversed. We are all different, I suppose.

Hi there. My feeling is that it should be about you and your loved one. What you want.
I made a mistake and had a funeral for my husband that he didn’t really want.
I wasn’t disappointed with my decision on the day as it was all about Brian and quite lovely. However his daughters didn’t like the fact that it hadn’t been more about them as well, although they hadn’t visited him for a few years. The service was by invitation only, so no paper announcement. I was pleased with the turnout but not one of these caring friends/relatives (except my own) have been in touch since. So I am thinking now, that I should have had the simple service that my husband wanted with just him and me and no speech’s or fair weather friends. You could have a family only service and a memorial later for everyone. Or a church service for anyone to attend and a quiet family gathering at the crematorium or burial. At the end of the day it is what you are comfortable with not friends and relatives.
All the best to you.

How perfectly lovely, I wish now that I had done something similar. I was in a daze though and as one of his family is part of a funeral directors I sort of let them take over. They was very kind and it was a lovely service that I wrote but now I wish I had done things differently and not bothered about his daughters being able to mourn their father as they haven’t been in touch with me since that day in November, not answering letters or phone calls and hadn’t bothered about Brian either for years.
The arbour in the garden is a lovely thing to have and must give you so much pleasure. I might change my garden this winter if I decide to stay here and make it into a memorial garden also. I can’t sit in my garden at the moment as it was the place we sat together the last time Brian was able to get outdoors. I know it sounds silly but I am waiting for Brian to let me know what he wants me to do. So far he’s done this if I’ve been concerned about something, even when I was upset about his daughters he came and told me he would sort them out. I also received a message when I was going to have his ashes taken to a family cemetery. He didn’t want to go there, he wanted to go with his grandparents in his home town. He got the message through to me and that is where he is now. There have been other incidents and as this garden was his before we married I think he might like a say.
All the best

Thank you for sharing your experience. Pleasing others is always tempting but probably inevitably leads to compromise which might not be the best thing in the circumstances. Always feels difficult to be selfish but if not now, when?

Thank you. Sounds like good advice. Sometimes we need to please ourselves. If we don’t look after ourselves at times like this, we can’t always rely on others to do it for us, I guess.

For the first time in my 68 years of life i had to organise my partner of 20 years Richards funeral 11th April and I done it as i knew this was the way he would have wanted it, not his sister, nephews nor nieces, they gave me no help whatsoever even though i made them aware i was not well myself, i have PP-MS…
So what i am saying, you know this person inside out, if it is down to you doing the organising, organise and do it as your loved one would have wanted it to be…Adhere to his or her wishes…

Final arrangements are difficult if you haven’t expressed your wishes beforehand. Last April I lost my daughter to cancer and six months later my mum passed away, again after cancer. Our daughters funeral was difficult and I just couldn’t cope. We had her cremation private with nobody there. We then had a service of life for everyone. My mums funeral was a burial , different again but we had a wonderful funeral director who kept us right sorting all the planning permissions etc for us. Though both were different they both worked. Do what is right for you and the rest of the family though any decision isn’t easy in times to come it will reduce the if only ! There is no right or wrong way to do it,but when you are organising a funeral there is enough to do. You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but very rarely can we please all of the people all of the time. x

When I lost my beloved daughter 18 months ago I told my grandson who was 21 that he could decide how to arrange his mummy’s service and we would do it together. He was amazingly brave but could not face a big service with lots of people. So on our Vicars advice we had a cremation service in the morning attended only by close family and this meant we could stand around Gemma in a circle which was beautiful.
In the afternoon we had a celebration of her life with 300 people.
My sister was so incensed that she ignored me on the day and has completely cut me out of her life.
I don’t care one jot. We gave my beautiful girl a lovely gentle service and my grandson was able to cope and I was so proud of him.
So my advice is follow your heart and others should support you in your decision. (Sorry this was so long!) xxx

Hi Chele. Thank you for posting. My wife left two main instructions. She wished to be cremated and she wished us to celebrate her life. Our kids and I both agreed we could not do the two things on the same day. I have now had a long conversation with one of the two friends involved and we have resolved the issue, although I guess I still feel that should never have been necessary. The second friend has accepted the situation too and is starting to engage with planning the celebration although there are remarks in her texts that could easily be interpreted as somewhat barbed. I am following Michelle Obama’s advice. When they go low, we go high. This week has been more stressful than it might have been as a result of their actions but the funeral is tomorrow and hopefully we will still be friends afterwards as my wife would have hated the thought of us falling out. One thing I have learned by living alongside cancer for two years is that life is never straightforward or predictable. The second is that love and friendship have to survive or what on earth is left? Glad you got through your ordeal in a way that worked for you. I hope I do as well. X

I will be thinking of you all tomorrow, I still take one day at a time,it’s hard but friendship and love will get us through.