Some very thoughtful questions posed by A Guy Called Bloke about funerals. I am happy to answer although I am also not naive enough to realize that what you want vs what you get when you are gone may not be the same thing.
I used to be very frightened of death and dreaded funerals. I would feel awful for the deceased when gatherers would laugh and drink at their wake. As I got older and less anthropomorphic (for lack of a better word), I realized funerals, wakes, gatherings are for the living, not the dead. As I aged and moved closer to that time myself, I have experienced the cost of funerals and some of the gatherings that are held and am appalled. Why would you do that? I realized then that the most important thing after my death is that I am remembered and prayed for. That is the only thing that will continue to benefit me once I am gone.
As for gatherings, celebrations of life, etc., I think they can have some importance to the living. When my brother died, my father, sister and I, along with our children, sat around the dining room table and remembered the times … the many, many times… he made us laugh. It was cathartic and helped the grieving process to begin. I don’t care if people feel the need to do that when my time comes. It is not, however, something they need to do for ME. I don’t want wailing or intense sadness when I go. Grieving will happen, there is no way around it, but death will come, it is His Plan. I need people to accept that and move on.
So here are the questions:
How important to you is the prayer and pomp of a funeral or indeed your funeral? Prayer is absolutely very important to me. Pomp, on the other hand, not at all. I would like only what is minimally required according to my religion. No meals, no party, nothing. Just the prayers and the burial. I do not know who will survive me and I do not want my children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, friends or whomever it is to feel any burden to hold a celebration of my life (or death). If they gather on their own, that is up to them, I do not plan to attend.
Are you likely to opt for a more traditional plan or a new alternative no frills option? I desperately want an Islamic funeral**. I live in an area where that may be difficult with the closest mosque being 25 minutes in either direction. I do not want to be cremated. I do not want to be buried in a casket. My wishes are known verbally and in writing, but I know that I will be buried at the whim of those surviving me.
Would you wish for those attending to dress formally or casually, smart casual – would you be offended by jeans and sneakers? I am not going to be there, nor would I likely “see” the attendees. As I am only interested in those gathering to pray for me, I could not care less what they wear. I would be grateful for them just to make the prayers.
**Ṣalāt al-Janāzah is the Islamic funeral prayer; a part of the Islamic funeral ritual. The prayer is performed in congregation to seek pardon for the deceased and all dead Muslims.