I doubt if such a thing exists as a “perfect” funeral. However, I know that Funeral Directors and celebrants like myself normally do their utmost to satisfy needs and desires.
I ought to point out that, as a civil celebrant, my comments here refer to secular or part-religious ceremonies only.
A difficulty arises if you come up against feuding families. Then compromise is the best you can hope for.
Occasionally, demands are not practical. We were asked to put on a short video display about the deceased during the crematorium service. Unfortunately, the crematorium simply didn’t have the technology to permit this. So we had to say no. (At least I could suggest that the video could be shown at the hotel where the reception would be held.)
Not infrequently, all that people want is a fairly standard service. It might – or might not – be religious. It may have a few religious elements. All that is fine. They are not always aware that there are time limits. People simply can’t always have everything they want (unless they book a double slot). They may have to shorten the service to accommodate the eulogy. Or vice versa.
People may want a theme. I conducted a very Chelsea-heavy service once. (Not easy for a Spurs supporter!) But why not?
What sort of music should there be? Well, that depends on each individual case. People assume they should only play religious or classical music, but there’s no reason for a celebration of life to be too solemn (if that’s the intention). My favourite choice of exit music – for a 92-year-old lady who loved Freddie Mercury – was “Killer Queen”. Guests couldn’t help but smile – indeed, I defy anybody not to, even at such a moment!
How are all these differing needs/wishes put together?
The home visit is key. The celebrant will ask questions, make suggestions and take away a feeling for what is wanted. Then appropriate readings and music can be chosen. The tone can be agreed on.
I always try to get a draft off to the family as soon as possible. Then they can decide if they want anything changed, and – hopefully! – there’ll be time to organise that.
The result might not be perfect, but, hopefully, it will be as near as humanly possible.
If you would like help planning a service (it could be during somebody’s lifetime, incidentally), feel free to give me a call.