Planning to make funerals a celebration of life

Taking out a pen and paper I start to think about the words I need to find for our Michael’s eulogy. It’s a task I’ve been dreading, I mean, what do you say when your brother’s gone too soon? Here’s my Playlist of Memories – A Short Story by James Scott.

James Scott's A Playlist of Memories is about trying to find the right words for his brother's eulogy.

Michael never made it to 60, but boy did he make the most of the years he had. I scribble down some thoughts and think about the good times, as kids riding our bikes through town, or flicking through the singles at the record shop with our paper-round money burning a hole in our pockets. Or on the top deck of the bus to football, singing our hearts out when we won and silently trudging home when we lost.

Then when we grew up, we’d go up to the dancing on a Saturday night. Best gear on, listening to Spandau Ballet, Madness and Duran Duran – Michael had the hair and Miami Vice jacket to match! His chat-up lines were awful but he could dance and that seemed to impress the girls. Well, it must have worked on Julie, she married him! I’m trying to remember what their first dance was. Something soppy no doubt, probably Lionel Ritchie – he sang everyone’s wedding song in those days.

Michael was great at the pub quiz and the music round was his favourite. He had always wanted to go on that Pop Master show on the radio. He loved all kinds of music, from punk to Michael Bublé, so it’s going to be hard picking songs for his funeral. The whole thing has been a bit of guesswork to be honest. He never talked about funerals, even near the end.

Julie’s not sure either so we’re kind of planning it together and hoping that it feels right for Michael, and for us as a family.

We want a Celebration of Life, not a sombre ceremony. It will be a humanist service and that’s about as far as we’ve got so far. There’s lots of decisions to make and it’s a sore one as I still can’t believe he’s gone. It’s making me realise that maybe I should think about the inevitable and speak to my wife, so she doesn’t need to worry about this for me.

When it’s my turn I want one of those colourful coffins, decked out in my Fitba teams colours. I just hope Michael is happy with the songs we’ve picked. It’s a playlist of memories, uplifting songs that tell the story of a happy life.

Did you know that in 2021 The Cost of Dying Survey found that of 1,500 people who had arranged a funeral in the past 12-month period, only 1% knew their loved ones wishes? 42% did not know their loved one’s preference for burial or cremation and 47% had to borrow money to cover funeral costs. One in eight families surveyed said that finding money to pay for the funeral caused them notable financial problems.

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