I’m a relatively fit and healthy 38-year-old woman, so it might come as a shock to many that I’ve already preplanned my funeral and organised a prepaid cremation. Here’s why.

My family was devastated when my Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer 18 years ago. It came as an incredible shock to us all and he passed away five months later. He was only in his late 50s, so my family wasn’t prepared to say goodbye so soon and we hadn’t given much thought about how we wanted to farewell him.

As the eldest, my big sister took on the funeral arrangements. She was pregnant at the time and planning the service while trying to cope with her own grief as well as the emotions of pregnancy.

She had no idea where to start and had so many questions: Which funeral provider provides a better service? What type of casket do I choose? How do we create a service that best captures Dad’s unique personality? How much does a funeral even cost, and is it OK to shop around for a better deal?

Bare Cremation's Mel who chose to prepay her own funeral at 38 years of age.
Pictured is Bare Cremation’s Mel Buttigieg, who chose to prepay her own funeral at just 38 years of age.

Dad came from a traditional, Catholic family so there was no doubt that a funeral service at our local church, followed by a burial, was the right choice.

We tried to personalise the service by wearing red – Dad’s favourite colour. But that’s about as much freedom we were allowed.

We couldn’t have the Bible readings we thought were the most fitting to Dad’s personality – we were only given a choice from three prescribed “funeral” readings. And it took some serious convincing, but eventually the priest let us play the Elvis song Love Me Tender at the end of the mass.

My sister did the absolute best job she could with navigating the rigid and outdated funeral process at a time when she was at her most vulnerable. I thank her dearly for it. But all up, the funeral cost about $15,000 and for that money we almost couldn’t send Dad off the way we know he really would have liked to go – listening to The King.

While his service was elegant and respectful, it didn’t represent the life of someone with such a big personality that every seat in the church was filled and left people standing in the aisles.

I realised years ago that’s not the type of send-off I wanted for myself when the time comes. I don’t want to spend $15,000 on a church, priest and a fancy coffin, only to be denied a service that celebrated my unique life.

Mel decided on the funeral that she didn't want for herself after the service for her late father Fred.

My dad’s favourite colour was red, so we all wore the colour at his funeral.

I want to ensure I go my own unique way

Before Bare Cremation even existed, I made a Will that specified that when the time comes, I wanted a simple cremation with my ashes scattered over the cemetery plot where Dad rests. In it, I’ve even listed the songs I want playing at my memorial and appointed my big sister the executor.

I want little fuss for those left with the burden of planning my funeral and I want to ensure I go my own unique way.

Since coming on board as a member of the Bare team, I’ve also learned that I can do all that for less than $2,000 – and at $20 a fortnight I will hardly notice it! So it was a no-brainer. A prepaid funeral plan means one less thing for my family to worry about when the time comes and I can ensure my wishes for a low-fuss send-off are upheld.

We really do have a choice when it comes to our end-of-life plans. We don’t need to be defined by outdated traditions and we don’t need to pay a funeral parlour $15,000 for a stock standard service that doesn’t truly represent our unique lives.

I encourage more Aussies to put the focus on the memorial and celebration-of-life over the funeral process. That way we’ll truly be able to go our own way, too.

To get a quote for a prepaid cremation, visit the Bare Cremation website, or call 1800 870 601.