Instructions for the mourners

by Derek Thompson

Published on 10 July 2020

Instructions for the mourners

What instructions for the mourners of your funeral can help you to leave a personal touch on your funeral?

Everything about the mourners invited or not invited to your funeral speaks volumes about you and your relationship with them.

As this is your final get together, just like an invitation to a party, they may appreciate a little help with the dress code and what to bring. It sets the mood and tone. Would the traditional black dress fit the bill or something a little outrageous?  Flowers or donations?

When planning your own funeral it’s certainly worth a little thought and something they can remember you by.

Who is this guide for? 

  • Anyone who wants to set the mood and tone of their funeral
  • Anyone wanting some dress code ideas for the mourners

Reading time:

 1.5 mins

Instructions for the mourners at your funeral.

How to choose the dress code for the mourners at your funeral

You might want to factor in that different generations have different ideas about what a funeral should be, and leave it open to choice.  That way, anyone who wants to attend in traditional black can do so without feeling uncomfortable, while those who prefer to dress smartly (or not!) can do their own thing.  

Star Wars Funeral

Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Themed funerals are growing in popularity. You could reflect some aspect of your life, whether that’s your favourite colour, a cause that meant a lot to you (e.g. pink for its associations with breast cancer awareness), or a theme you’ve devised to go out on an unforgettable note.

What about a Star Wars theme for a funeral? You can have the last laugh and request that the funeral staff also honour your sartorial directions, which could mean dressing up as Darth Vader.  Or you could ask them to wear pink wellies to your woodland funeral or  yellow bow ties  - or both!

Let your imagination run wild: vintage clothes, 1920s, historical and Marvel comic hero costumes …

There is no right or wrong answer here, only personal preference.    Just be sure  that  everyone knows  the dress code  in advance so that no one is  entirely  surprised when your best friend turns up  in fancy dress.

Who to invite to your funeral?

Who is on your guest list?  

You can have your say who is at the service and who is invited afterwards for refreshments.  It could be an open invitation, or you might want to keep one or two at the gates!

Funeral flowers or charitable donations? 

Living wreath

Example of a living wreath

Do you have a preference for flowers?  If so, which flowers, what colour?  Would you like flowers from family only?

If a greener funeral is your preferred way to go, you could ask the mourners to bring along a potted plant or living wreath and everyone could take a pot home at the end of the day. 

Maybe you’d prefer charitable donations to a  cause you supported?  

You could offer a choice of both  flower power  and  good causes.  The choice is all yours. 


How to make a living wreath
For a greener way to go

Directory of UK charities  
Who will you leave a gift to?

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About the author 

Derek Thompson

Derek Thompson is a writer and author, who has written extensively about grief and the funeral industry. He thinks humour is a much-underrated commodity. And thanks to a mix-up, when his name was read out during a committal, instead of his brother’s, he has technically been to his own funeral.

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