What will you wear for your own funeral?

Towards the end of last year we wrote offering advice on how to decide what to wear if you are attending a funeral. Many of the old conventions around funeral services have relaxed and none more so than what people wear to pay their last respects.

But what about the clothes people choose to wear for their funeral? Do you need to be in your Sunday best, or are attitudes to dressing for our own final send-off changing too?

The answer is yes, people are ‘dressing down’  for their own funerals, at least according to an article in the Guardian last year. From jeans and a favourite jumper to football strips and pyjamas, the paper reported that people are choosing to go out wearing what they want.

Across the board, serious and sombre funeral traditions are giving way to a more personal approach to funeral planning. Individual tastes are being reflected in funeral arrangements, from the choice of funeral music to funeral vehicles. So, it stands to reason that people who rarely wore a three-piece suit in their everyday life don’t want to be buried or cremated wearing one.

The relaxing of the traditional rules that once surrounded funerals are generally to be welcomed, but choices can sometimes be complicated.

Dressing the deceased is simple where an express wish has been made. In an article about ‘What your burial outfit says about you’ on the American lifestyle website Racked, one interviewee says his aunt kept her funeral outfit in a box under her bed.

He said, ‘She always tried to control things in life, and she clearly didn't want to hand over the decision to us, to her relatives.’ For him, this was her one last opportunity to define herself.

But in most instances, it is left to relatives to decide how to dress the deceased. With many people choosing not to talk about death with their loved ones, few people leave clear instructions for their funeral clothes.

What you wear to your own funeral may not matter in practical terms, but emotionally it can be comforting for friends and family to think that their loved one looks dignified, or even comfortable, in death. Even in cases where the there is no viewing, dressing the body in their own clothes maintains a sense of the person right to the end.

How to dress the deceased is a decision that will require thought from your relatives.

Although you may never wear a shirt and tie, and complain bitterly when you have to wear one, you may always choose to wear a tie to formal events like weddings and funerals. And how many times have we had fashion advice from friends that has left us asking ourselves, ‘Have you actually met me?’.

The best advice, especially if you have strong views on what you want your final outfit to be, is to leave written instructions. Just as you plan for flowers or music or leave instructions for what the congregation should wear, make it clear how you want to be dressed when you make your final departure.

What you will wear is just one thing on a long list of practical arrangements to be taken care of before your funeral. Fortunately, your funeral director can help. For more information on how to fix the cost of your funeral director’s services with Golden Charter, allowing you to choose from more than 3,000 independent funeral directors across the country, visit www.goldencharter.co.uk or call 0800 111 4514.