As a Fletcher straightens the arrow, so the man of understanding makes straight the trembling unsteady mind, which is difficult to guard and difficult to restrain.

The Dhammapada


 Why A Buddhist Funeral 

The Buddha is not another name for God, contrary to some views, neither is he the creator of all things, nor does he watch over us waiting to hear our requests for forgiveness. He was a Human Being who evolved spiritually as far as is humanly possible into a wholly new being known as a Buddha. When we worship the Buddha we are valuing and aspiring to our own potential for Enlightenment  As Buddhists we take full responsibility for our actions and their consequences and hope for a human rebirth. 
None of us know with any certainty what happens to us after we die, The Eternalist view speaks of Heaven and Hell, the Nihilistic view believes that when we die nothing exists beyond this life. The Buddhist view offers a middle way, an alternative to the Christian or Nihilistic model. Buddhists favor rebirth, where the actions of this life, in some way form the seeds of a new life. We celebrate life positively, we honor and respect the deceased, treating the body with kindness until burial or cremation. We have ceremonies and services that allow us to mourn, and show our gratitude to the life that has gone.
Many myths exist around death and funerals, in fact there are surprisingly few laws and rules that govern how we care for our departed loved ones.  If it is the wish of the family or the deceased, it is perfectly acceptable to care for them at home.  My experience when my Father died was to carry on the caring process during the period between death and cremation.  He was laid out in his wood turning workshop where we created a beautiful shrine around him of photographs, candles, flowers and his loved possessions for comfort.
During that period there were many friends who came to pay their respects, just sitting with him and sharing a quiet moment of reflection, bringing flowers or memories to share.  Most people were surprised to learn that this is still possible and many commented that they had never seen a dead body before.  It is not necessary to employ an embalmer as long as the body is kept in a cool place, and it was my preference not to involve any procedures to his body that were invasive.  I spent several days making his coffin which is also acceptable provided all the components are easily combustible and contain no environmentally unfriendly materials etc.  I covered the lid with raindrops that were turned in wood and made strong handles for the sides.  The whole process was very therapeutic for me and the family and in fact people helping shared many enjoyable memories, some helped with the coffin building, sanding and polishing, some were busy with organizing food and wine for the wake, making tea and talking to the many visitors and generally keeping very busy doing all the jobs that the funeral involved..
When the day came for the cremation we all gathered together with the lid of the coffin slid to one side so he could be seen laying comfortably inside, His sister had painted the lining fabric with a landscape and visitors were encouraged to bring one flower and to leave any final messages for my father.  Prior to closing the lid the messages were gathered up and saved.  After a few words and final good buys we formed a long line that stretched through his workshop and around to the Hurst that we had hired for a modest fee with a driver.  Everyone helped to hand the coffin on its final journey to the waiting vehicle.
It is a simple matter to book the crematorium directly, the cost was less than £400. On the day it was filled to capacity and one by one several of his friends and family spoke of their fond memories of my father, some spoke eloquently, some with tears and some with love and humor.  The whole event was simple, personal and comforting and a fitting send off.
The final figure for the funeral was a modest £650, this included the Hurst and the crematorium, the coffin was made by me and all that was left was the food and drink to account for back at the house.
If you are interested in having either a Humanist or a positively Buddhist service or any correspondence on the subject, please email Sagaradana or contact your nearest Buddhist Centre.

If you would like a cardboard coffin to paint yourself and store at home please feel free to contact me.  I would be delighted to quote, without being specific you can expect a cost to be a modest double figure sum.