Funeral wishes – songs and speeches

11 June 2017

I’m an advocate for preparing a letter of wishes for your loved ones, to support your will, enduring power of attorney documents (EPAs), and any trusts you have in place.

A letter of wishes isn’t binding but it’s a valuable resource to give the people you care about (and appoint in these very special positions of responsibility) an idea of what your wishes might be.

I have a letter of wishes. It’s pretty long, and I cover a number of things in it. Two of topics I cover include readings and songs to consider for my funeral, if I were to die unexpectedly. 

A couple of passages for readings:

  • From Richard Dawkins’ book Unweaving the Rainbow:

“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born.

The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people.

In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”

  • The following passage, often attributed to Woody Allen:

“In my next life I want to live my life backwards. You start out dead and get that out of the way. Then you wake up in an old people’s home feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, and then when you start work, you get a gold watch and a party on your first day. You work for 40 years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You party, drink alcohol, and are generally promiscuous, then you are ready for high school. You then go to primary school, you become a kid, you play. You have no responsibilities, you become a baby until you are born. And then you spend your last 9 months floating in luxurious spa-like conditions with central heating and room service on tap, larger quarters every day and then Voila! You finish off as an orgasm!”

Songs include:

  • “Everything is borrowed” by The Streets. (“I came to this world with nothing, and I leave with nothing but love. Everything else is just borrowed.”)
  • “Everglow” by Coldplay. (“If you love someone, you should let them know. Oh the light that you left me will everglow”)
  • “You can finally meet my mom” by Train. (“I should have spent less time making loot, and spent more time in my birthday suit” / “Even Bieber ain’t forever”)
  • “Smoke alarm” by Carsie Blanton. (“Baby what’s the big deal, feel what you want to feel, say what you want to say, you’re gonna one day”)
  • “The Dying of the Light” by Noel Gallagher. (“I was told that the streets were paved with gold, and there’d be no time for getting old when we were young. But it’s alright if you dance with me tonight; we’ll fight the dying of the light and we’ll catch the sun”.)
  • Some other songs, perhaps for personal reasons:
  • “Origin of the Species” by U2
  • “Forever Young”, acoustic version by Rod Stewart
  • “In My Life” by the Beatles
  • “Life’s a Happy Song”, from the Muppets

Morbid? Perhaps. But living well is leaving well. 


estate planning

About the author 

Sonnie Bailey

In his spare time, Sonnie likes telling people that he’s a former Olympic power walker, a lion tamer, or that he is an orthodontist. He is none of those things. In reality, Sonnie is a financial planner based in Christchurch. Through his business, Fairhaven Wealth (www.fairhavenwealth.co.nz), he provides independent, advice-only, fixed-fee financial planning services. Sonnie is a “recovering lawyer”: he has specialised in trusts and personal client work. He has also worked as a financial services lawyer for many years.

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