There are more and more options to choose from. Photo: Anna Lindgren, Swedish Radio P4 Skaraborg

More Swedes personalising funerals

"It says something about how we men like to plan things"
3:36 min

Have you thought about how you would want your funeral to be? Colour of the coffin? Choice of music? Any particular shirt you want to wear for that final journey? Well, decisions about this are made by an increasing number of Swedes.

These days you can get your own online account with the funeral parlours, to make sure that your wishes have been recorded.

It's called "Livsarkivet", or the "Archive of Life" and is run by the association of Sweden's approximately 400 authorised funeral parlours. Here you can record the contents of a will, whether you have any insurances, but also what is called "A Tribute to Life", where you can tick boxes in terms of location and style of the funeral. And: do you want the ceremony to be open to everybody? Or you prefer it to be for just those closest to you?

You can choose a coffin, its style and its colour. And - like deciding about bridesmaids' outfits ahead of a wedding - you can be involved in deciding what those carrying the coffin should wear.

And the music: perhaps Sinatra's My Way? Or Queen: The Show Must go on? Also, in the list of suggestions Bon Jovi "It's my life".

And there is also a section, where you are encouraged to think about whether you want any things to be put into the coffin with you. Like a photo of your loved ones? Or a fishing rod? Or your favourite type of shoe (and here there is a picture of a glisteningly red high stiletto shoe). Here, as well as for the music, there are a few empty lines, if you want to make your own choice.

The list goes on, and though the style - including the popped champaign cork that lies at the end of the document - may not be to everyone's taste - it is becoming more and more popular to plan your funeral, just like your wedding. That is according to Tommy Hultgren from Törnkvist funeral parlour in Blekinge in the south east of the country.

"We notice that people want to make a more personal statement. Many people have discovered that a funeral does not have to be heavy and sad and that you can affect this by writing it down," he says.

"If a person has been very colourful, you may want a purple coffin and perhaps for the food, you can choose a purple cake afterwards," he says.

According to Tommy Hultgren the interest in making these decisions has grown over the past couple of years, when also the choice on the market for coffins, for example, has become bigger. And since the online accounts were introduced about a year ago, this has spread further.

And he says that before, when you could record your wishes for your funeral only by going to the funeral parlours in person and filling in forms, women were in the majority, with some 60 per cent choosing to do so. But on the online version, men are in the majority, even though a slight one, at 51 per cent.

"Perhaps it says something about us men, who prefer to plan this behind the protection of a screen," he says.

But what if the relatives do not agree to what you have wished for?

Tommy Hultgren says that the relatives will be able to make some alterations, for example if it was a long time ago that the deceased has recorded his or her wishes. And at the end of the day, these are wishes, and it is up to those closest to the person being buried or cremated to interpret them.

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