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Dying matters week: Interesting funeral wishes

View profile for Claire Read
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Dying Matters is an important week and there are many serious articles and things that everyone should consider. However, I thought I would share some interesting funeral wishes and sayings.

Some familiar sayings:  

To kick the bucket: There are lots of different theories about this but I will just sound out a few:  

  1. One theory is that (and this one is not particularly nice) it comes from a method of capital punishment such as hanging. The victim stands on an overturned bucket and the inevitable happens when the bucket is kicked away.  
  2. The second theory is that it comes from the catholic custom of holy water buckets. After death, a holy water bucket was brought from the church and laid at the feet of the corpse so that when people came to say their last good byes they would sprinkle the body with holy water. 
  3. The third, and possibly nicest, theory is that it comes from a children’s game, where the child who kicks the bucket loses the game. 

To pop your clogs: Back in the olden days ‘to pop’ meant to pawn and in order to work it was essential that you had shoes i.e. clogs, and so if your clogs were to be popped (or pawned) then it meant that you were no longer able to work and more than likely were dead.

Dead as a door nail: Nails were once hand tooled and very costly. When someone tore down an old building they would salvage the nails for re-use. When building a door, carpenters often drove the nail through then bent it over on the other end so that it could not work its way out. At salvage these door nails were useless or “dead”.

Funeral wishes & will clauses

As for some unusual funeral wishes or will clauses... 

There was a man who wanted to be cremated and his ashes used in an egg timer so he could always be useful to his wife. Hourglasses can be created using someone’s ashes, rather than sand were. There is a designer who creates pencils created from ashes (240 at a time) with a box for you to collect the pencil shavings in so that can eventually become the urn. Lastly if you wanted to go out with a bang, then you can be scattered through pyrotechnics and become a firework. 

An interesting use of a will: there was a woman in North Carolina who left all of her estate to God. The court instructed the local sheriff to find the beneficiary. A few days later, the sheriff returned and submitted his report as follows “after a due and diligent search God cannot be found in the County”.

In 2004, billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley left her nine year old Maltese, ‘Trouble’, £8m in her will, with her grandchildren ordered to visit their father’s grave annually in order to inherit their share. Trouble’s inheritance was later cut to just £1.2m by a judge in court. 

If you are thinking about making special arrangements in your will please give one of our experts a call on 01245 453835 or alternatively you can email me at