A funeral thrives on the participation of people close to the person who has died. For that reason, you can, if you want, invite only selected people to come.
A funeral is one of those rare events which is not necessarily improved by professionals. You can employ a professional celebrant to conduct the funeral but remember, however brilliant your celebrant is with words, both writing them and speaking them, the validity of what he or she says will be diminished by this vitally important fact – everyone present will know that the celebrant did not know the person who has died. They would possibly far rather hear something less well-spoken from someone who did.
A funeral is no good if it’s too good. It is actually improved by wonkiness and the odd whoopsy moment. These are the things that make it real. You can get the undertaker’s bearers to carry the coffin and they’ll do it faultlessly; or you can get family members to carry it and it’ll all be a bit nailbiting, and all the better for that. You can have an Oscar-winning actor read a Shakespeare sonnet or you can have nine year-old Oscar read out that poem he wrote about granddad. Oscar will trump the Oscar-winner every time.
The reason for this is that every family does things its own way. A funeral needs to be created and conducted according to the culture, customs and language of your family. This is no time to tidy away everything about you that makes you what you are and pretend you’re just like everyone else. The eyes of the world are not on you.
A funeral is a time when the people who knew and loved the person who has died close ranks, regroup and support each other.
This is a private time, a deeply personal affair. It is no one else’s business.
This is why, when it comes to funerals, home cooking trumps the best chefs every time. A real funeral couldn’t care less what anybody thinks of it.