I wrote the following post in June of 2009, and given Pres. Packer’s passing, it seems newly timely. Will anyone dare to speak about Pres. Packer at his funeral? [1]


What do you want your funeral to be like?  Do you care or do you figure you’ll be dead anyway?  How do you feel about burial vs. cremation?  Are you an organ donor?

This is a topic that always excites some feeling, whether you are Mormon or not.  We all wonder about the legacy we will leave behind and what will be our life’s legacy.  How will we be remembered?

http://happylists.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/funeral-procession.jpegBoyd K. Packer has spoken twice on the topic of funerals, once in 1988, and again in a BYU devotional in 1996.  He clearly had some strong feelings on this topic.

Bishops should not yield the arrangement of meetings to members.  They should not yield the arrangement for funerals or missionary farewells to families.  It is not the proper order of things for members or families to expect to decide who will speak and for how long.  Suggestions are in order, of course, but the bishop should not turn the meeting over to them.  We are worried about the drift that is occuring in our meetings.
I agree to some extent where missionary farewells are concerned, but funerals seem like a private family matter for grieving, not a missionary moment with the deceased as an object lesson.
Funerals could and should be the most spiritually impressive.  They are becoming informal family reunions in front of ward members.  Often the Spirit is repulsed by humorous experiences or jokes when the time could be devoted to teaching the things of the Spirit, even the sacred things.
I still hold the hope that our heavenly parents have a great sense of humor.  It doesn’t take much observation of humanity to bolster that hope.
When the family insists that several family members speak in a funeral, we hear about the deceased instead of the Atonement, the Resurrection, and the comforting promises revealed in the scriptures.  Now it’s all right to have a family member speak at a funeral, but if they do, their remarks should be in keeping with the spirit of the meeting.
Personally, I feel that we honor the dead when we remember them as individuals, share the stories of their life and the joy they brought to us through knowing them.  The funeral is for the living survivors, not the dead, nor for the church.
I have told my Brethren in that day when my funeral is held, if any of them who speak talk about me, I will raise up and correct them.  The gospel is to be preached.
Actually, I would pay good money to see this.  Who’s with me?

I know of no meeting where the congregation is in a better state of readiness to receive revelation and inspiration from a speaker than they are at a funeral.  This privilege is being taken away from us because we don’t understand the order of things–the unwritten order of things–that relates to the administration of the Church and the reception of the Spirit.

Really?  A funeral?  I rather think that non-members and inactives would be put off by the lack of respect to the deceased and the grieving family.  It seems insensitive.  Isn’t family supposed to come first?  Elsewhere, Pres. Packer said:

Families are not tools to staff the Church; the Church is a tool to serve families. Don’t over-burden families!

And yet co-opting a family’s funeral as a missionary moment seems to get this backwards.  Perhaps his feelings were mixed.
What do you think? Should funerals be 100% religious with no mention of the deceased as an individual, only as an example of the Plan of Salvation in action?  Is it best for grieving families to hold funerals in their homes or away from the church if they want to cherish and honor the specific memory of their loved ones?
What is your experience? Given the fact that these talks are 27 years old and 19 years old (and the second was only a BYU address), I am curious – it seems to be BKP’s opinion more than church policy based on its execution.  Are these instructions being carried out?  (I don’t attend enough funerals to know the current trends, but the last one I went to was mostly funny and touching stories about the deceased with maybe a church talk, but I’m pretty sure I tuned it out).
For my funeral, I would like some personal anecdotes shared.  And if possible, at least at the viewing, an Elvis Costello soundtrack (or Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell if I specifically die in a car crash).  No jello or funeral potatoes unless you really really like that stuff (after all, I won’t have to eat it).  I am also not keen on the whole giving a church talk thing.  If there are a bunch of people giving church talks in Heaven, no thanks.  I would prefer to be sent into the ocean on a burning barge like the Vikings, but if that is impractical, make sure I look good, but keep expenses down. Let’s not beggar my posterity in the process.
But I’m not going to threaten anyone with “rising up” out of my casket if these orders are not followed.  That just seems churlish. When I die, I plan to stay reliably dead, at least for the duration of the funeral.
[1] Asked and answered.  He’s being eulogized on lds.org as you read this.  Personal stories are being shared.