If there was any one piece of advice I could give any family, it would be to ask questions and have a conversation about what each of you would like as an end of life celebration.
As a funeral celebrant, when I meet a new family I always ask them what their loved one would have liked at their own funeral service? They almost always tell me that they don’t know, they never asked, they never talked about it – even when that person had been terminally ill for some time.
Ask! Open the conversation. Nothing is more valuable than information and nothing will help you make decisions at a time that is by definition terrible and traumatic, than the knowledge of your loved one’s wishes.
If you are having trouble approaching the subject with your loved one, (or if it is difficult, for fearing of upsetting somebody else) I suggest flipping to yourself.
Music is always an easy place to start. “I want this song played at my funeral” would be an easy non-threatening way to open the conversation.
“That’s my favourite flower. When I go, I hope everybody brings a daisy for me.”
“Please don’t wear black to my funeral. I want everyone to wear bright colours”
“I do not want everybody stuck in a chapel, somewhere. I want to smell the ocean breeze for one last moment”
“Sprinkle my ashes around a tree….”
With luck, the people around you will follow. Take notes. Turn it into a game.
Of course, there are big decisions to be made. Burial vs Cremation, for example, but once you get that conversation going, you can get there.