My Wonderful Life

Funeral Roles: Considerations for your MWL book

posted on 9/7/11 by Staff

Participating in a funeral or memorial service can play a very important role in the grieving process of a loved one. Being involved can help bring the reality of a death to the surface, and help you express your feelings. It’s an honor to be a part of a service that celebrates a person’s entire life. Although these types of services can be very sad, it gives everyone a chance to share memories with others that could provide comfort during a time of deep mourning.

At MyWonderfulLife (MWL), we want to help you make the most of your online book, so that when you pass your Angels (the people who carry out your wishes) will know exactly what you wanted to plan, or exactly what you wanted to leave up to your family to decide. Here are some of the roles that your family and friends could play, so start thinking about who you would want to fill them and make sure to put it in your book!

Priest/Other Religious Leaders:

Religious leaders usually lead the funeral service. You may want to have your current religious leader preside over your funeral, or maybe one from your childhood.

Funeral Director/ Undertakers:

"Undertaking basically came from three different professions. Cabinetmakers frequently became undertakers, as they built coffins. Liverymen became undertakers, as they transported the coffins, and in times of epidemics these dangerous services were especially needed. Midwives performed considerable undertaking duties, since approximately 35 percent of childbirths in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries resulted in death of the baby, as well as many of the mothers." (Bailey, Flowers 36)

You may want to leave certain decisions up to your family members. Just because you know a funeral director, might not necessarily mean they should be your mortician when you pass. Being too detailed with your own funeral wishes may actually have an adverse effect. Your family should be allowed some wiggle room so they don’t ever feel like they are failing you when planning your funeral.


The pall is the piece of fabric or material that lies on top of the coffin. So pallbearers are quite literally casket bearers, and not just pallbearers.

In western cultures, this right is normally reserved for people who have a close connection with the deceased. In Asian cultures, being a pallbearer is a service provided by people who do not know the deceased.  If you decide to pick these people, they may be honored to know you considered them to be of great importance to you in your life.

Speakers (Eulogy, poems, other readings):

Reading at someone’s funeral can be a very emotional task. The closer the connection they have to you, the harder it will be for them. However, don’t let that heed you from asking them. It might be very difficult, but they may appreciate it just the same. Someone who is a great public speaker may be more prepared for the task, but comfort level shouldn’t be the only consideration.


If you have a musical family, maybe you want to choose a song or two for them to play at your funeral. Letting them choose might be really meaningful as well. Who knows, they might even choose the songs you would pick anyway!

Updating your book:

At MWL, we often think about how often a member should update their book. Best-case scenario, we think you should update it a few times a year or whenever you think of us. Life and relationships are constantly changing and evolving. And while you Angel can make a judgment call when the time comes, it would be nice to include everyone important in your life at this exact moment.

If you had a falling out with someone, and didn’t reflect this in your book, your Angel will make the judgment call. However we would like to think that no matter the circumstance, estranged relationships have no boundaries after a death. They were, after all, important to you at one point in time. 

Give this some thought and update your book. We hope to see you back at our site soon!


Sources: Bailey, Sue, and Carmen Flowers. Grave Expectations: Planning the End like There's No Tomorrow. Kennebunkport, Me.: Cider Mill, 2009.

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