John was the longest serving Blue Peter presenter and his enthusiasm was always remarkable, so it was sad to read that he had Alzheimers at the end of his life. He passed away earlier this year and it was reported just last week that his family had sent half of his ashes into the sky in a rocket in the grounds of his old school- surely a fitting end to a well lived life. He had asked that half of his ashes be scattered on the playing fields of the school and half in Majorca where he had lived. His family asked a company that specialise in attaching ashes to rockets to fulfil this final wish in a very novel way, and close friends were able to say their goodbyes before tucking into his favourite meal of potted meat sandwiches, sausage rolls, cake and red wine.
I am not surprised to hear that there is a company that will arrange this type of ceremony. Occasionally I do have the chance to insert slightly unusual funeral wishes in a Will - the lady who wanted to be cremated with a bottle of Gordons gin and 200 cigarettes at 2.15pm on a Tuesday springs to mind. Most people are happy enough to say whether they wish to be buried or cremated and leave the detailed arrangements to their families. What if you do not have a family, or you die unexpectedly and your family are faced with having to make these decisions at a traumatic time?
Arranging funerals for clients is one of the many services we offer. I recently had to arrange the funeral of a lovely elderly client who had no close family to make the arrangements. She had a pre-paid funeral plan which set out exactly what she wanted to happen. When I went to visit the undertaker, the plan made it easier to make the arrangements than it had been on other occasions when I had no idea what the person wanted to happen.
The cost of funerals is rising every year and funeral poverty is becoming an increasing fact of life. There is a long held belief amongst many people that the funeral account has to be paid right away and some undertakers now ask for a deposit to be paid, which never used to happen.
There is now more choice about the way to be dispatched, and some people prefer a less traditional funeral, for example with their own choice of music, (however inappropriate - what about the Queen classic, Another One Bites the Dust?) during the service or different types of natural burial. Concerns about the environmental impact of cremation are leading to new ways to carry out the most popular way to deal with the remains in Scotland.
However you want to be sent off, please do consider those you leave behind and take the time either to write your wishes down, perhaps arrange a funeral plan or simply discuss what you want to happen with your nearest and dearest. While you may not want your ashes to be sent into the air, please do not leave them in the dark but light the way for them to give you the send off you want. I am off to create my funeral playlist and write the menu for the meal.