Story of a life: hard questions to ask


Sometimes there isn't time, as burials in Shetland tend to take place very quickly after death. But before meeting a family to discuss what they want to happen at a funeral, I ask them at least to read through this questionnaire to prepare themselves for telling their loved one's story. 

"What I want to do is tell your loved one’s story. In the way you want and with all the details absolutely correct. And I want the service to be what you want, with the right music, if required, readings and, if you feel they’d be helpful, prayers or other religious content. Or not as the case may be. It’s completely up to you. 

I have readings and poems which I often use, but I would welcome any suggestions by you. And if any member of the family or friend wants to speak, that would be great. 

I will make sure that you see and have a chance to correct everything, both the main service and what’s said at the graveside, if there is to be a burial. There should be no surprises for you.

The list below may help you clarify things, especially, the story of your loved one’s life and people who should be mentioned. It’s not a form, and you don’t need to fill it in or answer all the questions, but it may spark off some thoughts and ideas. You can write as much or as little as you want. You can copy the questions and answer them as fully or briefly as you think appropriate, and then email me at Or  print your thoughts  out and give it to me when we meet to talk things through.

Phone me at any time."

Tom Morton

Funeral date and time
Entry music
Music for period of reflection
Exit music
Other music
People who are to speak in addition to Tom
Full name of deceased
Maiden name if appropriate
Nickname or everyday name
Date of birth
Where born
Parents’ names
Parents’ occupations
Parents home address 
Brothers and sisters, including month and year of birth. Are they still alive? If not, when did they die?
Social media - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter - please check to see if comments there might be used.
Early life - schooldays, memories, pals, stories
Schools attended
College or university
Date left school/college
First Job
Job history and career
Stories, memories and friends from work
Partner - name, how they met, married if they did, 
Stories and memories from life together
First house
Subsequent homes
Children - names and birthdays
Children’s partners and grandchildren
Stories and comments from children and grandchildren
Holidays - stories and comments
If you had to describe your loved one - what words would you use/were used?
Hobbies and interests
Books, TV, cinema favourites
Things which should not be referred to.
Cause of death
Date of death
Charity collection
Place of burial
Is there a bus for folk to get to the cemetery/reception?
Will you line up to greet mourners after the burial?
Venue for funeral tea/reception
Friends or neighbours to mention or contact
Additional thoughts and comments

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

It Tolls for Thee: book now published - but lots of information can be freely accessed here

A video introduction ( 2 minutes) to my new book, which  contains a lot of the practical material in Telling the Story With Love, but also t...