"Simple" Funeral Wishes - Can They Be Too Simple?


I have a question regarding Church teachings about funerals/burials/etc. I’m currently on the road to converting to Catholicism from Protestantism and realized some of the requests in my Will are not in line with Church teachings (like having my ashes scattered, etc.) I know it’s probably a little creepy that a 23 year old is planning this, but I’ve seen my family struggle with my uncle’s estate (died without a will) and I figure I should be prepared.

I’m a practical guy who craves simplicity deep down. I also have a desire to make the burden on my family as minimal as possible when I leave this world and allow my estate to provide generously to charitable organizations.

Therefore, I find myself wanting to have a very simple funeral - undecorated pine-box casket, a funeral Mass and a burial. I don’t want a fancy $20,000 casket with a plasma screen that will vacuum seal me in until the 2nd Coming.

I wholeheartedly believe in the Resurrection of the body, so I’m not trying to go Gnostic here. Am I right in assuming that God has the power to give us resurrected bodies, regardless of the condition they are in here on Earth?

I know the CCC lays some of the guidelines of out in paragraphs #2299-2301, but I figured I’d see what the opinions of the CAF crowd was.


I don’t see anything in the CCC that would mandate an elaborate funeral, and I applaud your pre-planning at such a young age.
Funerals are for the living, as you will have left our part of the universe–while making your preferences known is okay, I balk at the idea of explicitly planning every detail of your funeral.
Who knows what will make your family/friends feel better when you have departed?


That’s a good point - I will have to add a few things that leave things a bit open for interpretation.

I guess I just don’t want my family to ever feel pressured by some sleazy funeral home salesperson into something that is excessive - having some guidelines in my will would give them leverage, you know?

Also, welcome to CAF! :thumbsup:


I don’t think there’s any problem with simple. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making arrangements ahead of time. I’ve been to a couple of funerals that were beautiful and so in line with the thinking of the men who had died – and then I found out that in both cases the men themselves had planned everything – the readings, the music, etc.

The only thing I would caution is that you should share your plans with someone else because the will may not be read until afterward and then it would be too late.

Be prepared for people to freak out when you talk about a funeral, however. I know what casket I want – it’s from the Benedictine monks at St. Meinrad. But when I showed it to a friend of mine she thought I was extremely strange.


I don’t want an elaborate funeral–just a funeral Mass. I have some favorite songs, but another poster made a good point–it might help my family in their grieving to arrange things. Just so they don’t go overboard on the expense. However, I do not want a eulogy. I do not like them. I would prefer the priest give a thoughtful homily. If the family feels they must eulogize, I want it done at the funeral home, not at Mass.


A funeral Mass is to praise and thank God, just like any other Mass. It’s not to make the family feel better, although it can be hoped that Mass & Communion would.

Go ahead with your plans, making sure that your wishes are in line with the Church’s view of the Liturgy: hymns appropriate, etc. Personally, I want “All Creatures of Our God and King” as the Entrance Hymn at my funeral – every single verse, particularly the one about death:

*And you, most kind and gentle death,
Waiting to hush our final breath,
Alleluia, alleluia!
You lead to heaven the child of God
Where Christ our Lord the way has trod.

O praise God! O praise God!
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!*

Hope God plans to call me home outside of the Lenten season. :slight_smile:

A plain pine casket is beautiful in its simplicity and if that’s what you want you might make the arrangements with a funeral home in the town where you live.

The former housekeeper for this parish purchased the casket she wanted and stored it at our church for about 20 years until she died. I wouldn’t advise that everyone do that, since it could get mighty crowded here:D but it was practical of her to do so and didn’t leave others to make the decision.


Leaving your wishes in a will might not be such a good idea. The will is generally read after the person is dead and buried. Just make your wishes known to your family. Maybe have a “living will.” I’ve go one on hand.

Being the only Catholic in the family it would be stupid of me not to have one. Of course, I’ve also talked with my daughter a couple of times about this. She knows I want a catholic funeral, and is willing to talk to a priest about it.

So, get to talking to family members. At least, those that are closest to you, the ones that would probably end up planning the funeral. Some things may change between now and then.


scattering ashes is also not in line with local law in most places

yes your experience with your uncle is valid and should be warning to everyone of the damage that can be done in families due to lack of estate planning, however one’s will is not the place for direction on funerals, as it is usually read too late. One leaves a document with a trusted family member who is the one who will be carrying out those instructions. Bear in mind however, that no one is bound by those instructions, the can still do what they will.

Yes a simple funeral is quite in line with Catholic tradition. It was not the Church who came up with expensive funerals and caskets costing thousands of dollars

Cardinal Newman’s grave was found to be empty except for a few shreds of clothing, buttons etc, when he was exhumed as part of the beatification process, because he was buried w/o embalming, no lead casket etc, an entirely natural process in which the body slowly returns to God’s clean earth.

a eulogy has no place in a Catholic funeral.


They have nice casket “covers” that are used to cover a simple casket and are not buried with the body. I don’t know what they’re called, but they significantly decrease the expense of the funeral while displaying nicely.

You might want to keep in mind that it might not be clear to anyone who attends a funeral that if one is displayed in a simple pine box, it might reflect poorly on that one’s relatiaves…someone might think they’re being cheap. :eek:


All great points being raised. I’ll definitely have to look into the suggestions re: a living will. I guess my experience has been with my grandparents that my family already knew the wishes, so they went from there.

Interesting note re: the eulogy. I did not know that.


“I don’t want a fancy $20,000 casket with a plasma screen that will vacuum seal me in until the 2nd Coming.”

I don’t want to be graphic with TMI but, some funeral directors try to sell people on the metal caskets with rubber airtight gaskets. You don’t want to seal a casket airtight. The human body is approximately 70% water by weight. The body needs to dehydrate and excess moisture can escape from the casket. If the moisture cannot escape, the body will simply decompose into a soup. Gaseous pressure may build until the seals are blown.



I have my end-of-life and funereal preferences and instructions in writing, but also put that any decisions my three daughters make in loving concert are to be considered my choices as well, no matter what other opinion I may have expressed.


I also agree with in my area also funeral cost is becoming not affordable for the average family most of the parishes burial site/tomb very high


Direct cremation can be done for about $1,000.
That includes picking up the deceased through cremation. It would not include the urn, plot, markers etc.

That also does not include a burial plot and headstone. Most cemeteries allow burial of the urn in a plot with an existing casket. A few months ago, my sister-in-law died suddenly. She was cremated and was buried with her grandparents. There was a fee for cemetery services to dig a hole(similar to a fence post hole), but no need to buy a plot. A small ground marker was purchased for about $300 and placed on the spot.


I’ve planned my share of funerals, and find it a horrendous, grotesque revolting duty-- ‘Here’s a nice box for dad to rot in!’

Funerals are for the living in the sense that it marks the end of the first part of the mourning process: after the funeral, society expects you to get back to a normal routine, etc.

But I’ve never met anyone who thought the planning process itself was in any way healing.

BTW: my cousin was buried in a pine box last year, and it was rather awful. All I could think about was that we’d need more dirt in a few years, when the box caved it and the ground sinks. There’s a reason modern cemetaries are nice and flat, while in old movies they always heap the dirt way up above the grave. Oh, and wood coffins often cost more than a simple metal one…

And consider embalming: the indignities the body is subjected to in that process gives me the willies, and it serves no purpose. Forgoing embalming requires the funeral itself to take place in a timely manner, which is also a positive if it keeps the vultures from descending on your family, expecting to be entertained.


I have everything planned and paid for (except the stipend) down to the plot and marker. I don’t think a funeral can ever be too simple. But if someone wants elaborate that’s OK too. For me it’s all about expenses left for my family…I don’t want them being stuck with any of the expense or the arrangements.

I don’t think it matters what age you are in making these sort of plans…no one ever wants to hear about them. My Mom is well into her 80’s and I can’t get her to talk about her own plans let alone mine. She’ll leave it all for us to deal with; without a thought on her part. Some folks are just that way.


It’s hard not to give loved ones a relatively good “sendoff” - even though we know it’s just a body in the casket. However, I’d dismiss the cremation idea but consider the pine box, which I’m considering myself. I understand there’s an order of monks (maybe Trappists, but I’m not sure) who make them for a nominal fee. So, you’d be giving to a good cause twice-fold. Leaving estate to charities and even your pine box paid to the monks!
Funerals - not so creepy as the businesses that have so horrendously capitalized on them.
Just be sure that your estate / Will dictates “X-amount of dollars” for Gregorian Masses. Don’t leave it up to those left behind !


I tend to not think too much about my own “arrangements” either. Heck, I’ll be dead. I’m not going to be there. Why should I plan anything? It should be the survivor who plans things out in advance–when so-and-so dies, I’m going to do this, this, and this to say goodbye. I agree with some of the sentiments that have already been expressed–I think the “death industry” in this country is disgusting.



Dave Bj and Elizabeth -
First, Elizabeth
…good for you that you have everything planned. Until my mother died, I never realized there was no one for me…no one. I thought I had a burial space in the family plot but since my mother’s passing, there has been such upheaval in my family, I can’t even get some to sign for me to be buried there - which is my birthright. But I can’t afford to plan elsewhere - and wanted to be there anyway.

Dave, yes, we’ll be dead. But someone has to see that our bodies are given decent interment - if not expensive. How sad the stories of forgotten cemeteries found years later - unmarked or long forgotten graves which had since become dumps - people neither visited nor their souls prayed for (how sad). Remember, there’s Church teachings on acts of charity - visit the sick AND visit the dead. Something to think about.


I think to prepare for one’s death is a way of taking the burden from the living at that time and the funeral arrangements. I have made a will and have asked for the most simple of funerals at the most least possible cost and have discussed my wishes about my funeral with my two sons and also plan to put it into writing and leave with my will. I have chosen cremation as it is not as expensive here as being buried. There is a copy of my will in my lawyer’s office and also one in my Personal Paper file here. I also have funeral insurance. Here in Australia (not too sure what may apply in other countries) we can take out an insurance policy specifically for one’s funeral and pay the premiums weekly, fortnightly, monthly or yearly.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.