Defining Your Values

The most important step in planning a funeral is defining your values. Having a clear vision of what your values are will help you incorporate meaningful rituals, create a personalized ceremony that reflects who you are, and spend meaningfully and not blindly.


Follow these 3 steps to help define your values & apply them to your funeral planning:

  1. Take five minutes to jot down your answers to these questions:
    • Think about the times when you were happiest. Who were you with? What were you doing? Where were you?
    • Now try to recall the times in your life you felt most proud. Why were you proud? What did you do to contribute to your own feelings of pride? Were others proud of you?
    • Finally, identify the times in your life you were most fulfilled and satisfied. Why did that particular experience make you feel so fulfilled? What need was it filling in your life?
  2. Using your history of happiness, pride, and fulfillment from #1, write down what you think your biggest values are.
  3. Lastly, use those values to inform your answers to these questions:
    • What kind of ceremony would reflect your values and the way you lived
    • Does it matter who’s in charge of organizing your funeral? If yes, who should it be?
    • What parts of the ceremony would you spend more money? Where might you spend less?
    • Is there any part of the funeral ceremony you would to have while you are alive?
    • Where do you want to be buried? Does a “natural” or “green” burial site fit your vision better than a traditional cemetery?
    • Is the burial process itself important? Do you want loved ones to be involved with that?

When you are finished, save your answers and hang onto those values for the rest of this planning process. They should always be at the core of every decision you make!

If you’re having trouble with the steps above, here are examples of how to apply values toward a ceremony:

  • If you value creativity, consider allowing family members to personalize your shroud or casket with drawings and paintings, or somebody playing an instrument at your funeral.
  • If you value helping others, consider hosting a Living Funeral and asking your loved ones to each prepare a note describing 1 way you’ve influenced their lives
  • If you value the environment and having a natural death, consider simplifying the burial and looking for locations that’d allow you to be buried in only a shroud


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