When planning a funeral ritual, it is important to sit down as a family and decide what is important to you as a group. This can be stressful and cause some anxiety, as not all family members are likely to agree. It is even more complex now that the traditional nuclear family is no longer necessarily the norm. Family structures have changed considerably over the last ten or so years and there may be a previous family as well as the current one.

This means the dynamics of this wider group can be quite complex and not always amicable. Where humanly possible we must consider the children from a previous marriage, even if we are unable to include an ex-wife or ex-husband. I love the terminology of working with ‘Family Forests’ rather than the typical ‘Family Tree’ as was the norm years ago. It speaks a thousand words about the complexity of many of today’s family dynamics.

It is imperative to always remember what would have been important to the person who died. I do challenge families if they are having a civil ceremony when the person who died was religious and had a strong faith. I would hope the family would put their needs after those of the deceased. And I do believe that if the person was religious and the family is not, then they can usually find a clergy who would be happy to adapt their ‘standard prescribed script’ to meet the needs of the family. Or at the very least use a civil celebrant happy to include some religious elements, maybe even alongside a clergy.


Chapter 5 – Part 4 of the book covers this in detail