What is “Normal”?

By: Amy Tobin – Tobin Brothers Funerals
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When planning funerals over the years, I have observed that a lot of people ask me some variation of pretty much the same question, which is:

“I have no idea…What’s normal? What do most people do?’”

It’s a reasonable question and hopefully, the people I meet haven’t spent too much time weighing up the pros and cons of a coffin versus’ a casket. I try to make the decisions to questions that no one wants to have to ask as painless as possible for our client families – that’s part of my role as a funeral planner..

So often a client family will say “We want to keep the funeral simple”.

Definitions of ‘simple’ of course can vary from person to person – A simple coffin can mean solid timber for some, and a particle board coffin for others. Some families are under strict instructions from the recently departed not to have any service formalities at all, and that is absolutely alright.

A funeral provides an outward expression of one of life’s most significant transitions and weaving elements that reflect the personality of the deceased into the funeral creates meaning. Things that are relevant for one family may be completely inappropriate for another – There may be preferences that could be considered more mainstream than others, but I can assure you that no two funerals are ever the same.

Context plays a major part in planning a funeral. It provides the framework for families to create a meaningful service for their loved one. Should the service have a religious or a life-centred focus? Will it take place in a church, one of our chapels or an alternative venue? Should the style of the service be traditional or more contemporary? Perhaps during their lifetime a person had a traditional, understated personality. If someone had a deep religious faith and went to a particular church, then it makes sense that their funeral would mirror this. If someone wasn’t religious, had an outgoing personality and loved popular music, the funeral is able to reflect these traits instead, so that it resonates with mourners.

In any case, whether it is a traditional or contemporary approach that is required, there are many options. The service can be small or large, formal or informal. Depending on the venue, audio visual presentations can be a great way to help people say goodbye, but they are not everyone’s cup of tea.

Music choices are endless provided they are venue appropriate. Some people prefer Coldplay to Tchaikovsky, Monty Python to Frank Sinatra – no problem. If someone had eclectic music tastes it’s also possible that we may need to play all of these artists at the same funeral. Chances are that the Harley Hearse we are able to offer won’t feel natural for a family who desire a church funeral. But, then again you can never say never.

The question of whether to have a viewing is a matter of personal choice. There is no right or wrong thing to do. It’s not necessary to provide us with formal style clothing in which to dress the deceased, but again, the choice is yours.

With funerals, the truth is that there is no clear cut answer to the question of normality. Meaningful ways to remember someone are different for every family and the funeral they are planning. There is no set formula for a ‘normal funeral’ and the question of what is ‘normal’ is subjective for each of us. We are all human and no two people are identical, nor are our responses to loss one and the same. Although there may be similarities in services, the bottom line is that no two funerals are ever the same, they should be designed to appropriately honour the life of the deceased and provide some degree of comfort for their bereaved family.

For more information, and to view our range of options you may download brochures from our website http://tobinbrothers.com.au/arranging-a-funeral/brochures or alternatively download our free Memory Maker App, from the App Store or Google Play and start planning the perfect way to reflect on your own life or that of a loved one.


Written by Amy Tobin – Tobin Brothers Funerals


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