Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Some Opt to Forgo Having Funerals, but Others Say Services Are 'For the Living'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Some Opt to Forgo Having Funerals, but Others Say Services Are 'For the Living'

Article excerpt

Why some people say 'no' to having funerals


TORONTO - When it comes to matters of mortality, Bill Taylor says he is "in no hurry to go," but there's one thing he's sure of: when the time comes, he wants no formal service held to mark his passing.

"It's written into my will -- no funeral," he said emphatically.

Self-described as being "totally anti-religion," the Toronto-based journalist said the notion of having a funeral strikes him as "entirely pointless" for a number of reasons.

"It's a lot of expense for nothing," said the candid Taylor, 66. "You buy a casket and you take it away and you either bury it or you burn it.

"You go through all of this ritual with hearses and limousines. And I notice at funerals I've been to, unless the death has been really unexpected or (under) tragic circumstances and then nobody mourns, it's a get-together, it's a party. And that strikes me as well. If you're going to have a party, have a party. But don't hang it on my death."

Both of Taylor's parents died in England a few years ago and had pre-planned their funerals, including the hymns they wanted included. Both opted to be cremated, with each service timed precisely to 45 minutes.

"My dad in particular chose a long hymn. They could only have three verses because they had to be in at a specific time and out at the specific time. And as we were coming out, the next funeral was waiting to go in," Taylor recalled.

"It was a conveyor belt. It had no significance, it had no resonance, it meant nothing. And I thought: 'I want no part of this.'

"If you want to have a drink in my memory, go and do it. But don't waste your money putting me away. Do it the cheapest way possible," he added.

When actor Gary Coleman died in 2010 at age 42 after suffering a brain hemorrhage, the attorney overseeing the estate of the late "Diff'rent Strokes" star revealed that Coleman's 2005 will specified he wanted no funeral. The document trumped a 1990 will where Coleman said he wanted to be remembered in a wake conducted by people who had no financial ties to him and "can look each other in the eyes and say they really cared personally for Gary Coleman.''

Coleman's remains were cremated at a mortuary in the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy, a move that had been held up by legal wrangling for nearly three weeks after his death.

A glance at obituary notices posted online from across Canada reveal many others who lived lives outside of the public spotlight and have outlined similar requests for no funeral services.

"There are some, and not large numbers with us -- in fact, it would be a small percentage -- that would not want a funeral with us. And I'm totally respectful of that," said Faye Doucette, who is owner of the Belvedere Funeral Home in Charlottetown and also president of the Funeral Service Association of Canada.

"I guess I don't see it much different than if people don't want a wedding or if they don't want a reception after something. To me, it's just their choice."

Doucette said it used to be the case -- particularly in Prince Edward Island -- that the funeral service was traditional with a specific format. Today, that simply no longer applies. …

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