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Planning a Funeral for a Person Who Wasn’t Well-Liked

Planning a funeral can be a delicate task, but what happens when the deceased was not well-liked? It’s a situation that can bring forth a myriad of emotions, complexities, and challenges for both the family and friends left behind. 

How do you bid farewell to someone whose life wasn’t filled with brightness and positivity without resorting to insincere or unsuitable clichés? What words can adequately describe someone who may have been reserved, challenging, and/or difficult to connect with emotionally? 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the intricacies of planning a funeral for someone who wasn’t well-received by others. From understanding the reasons behind their lack of popularity to tailoring the funeral service with compassion and empathy, we’ll delve into the nuances of navigating this difficult terrain.

Choose an Empathetic Funeral Director and Celebrant who Understands the Complexity

It is appropriate to consider the reasons behind the deceased’s lack of popularity. Perhaps they had a contentious personality, made poor choices in life, or simply struggled to connect with others. Whatever the case may be, recognising these factors is crucial when approaching the funeral planning process. 

The first step in planning a funeral for someone who wasn’t well-liked is choosing a funeral director and celebrant that understand and have experience with such complexity. You should feel comfortable enough to talk about the impact of the deceased’s unpopularity on their family and friends with your celebrant and funeral director, so that they can support and guide you. 

At Picaluna Funerals, we understand the vital role that our Funeral Celebrants and Funeral Directors play in guiding individuals through the funeral ceremonies of those who were not well-liked. We serve as compassionate facilitators, navigating the intricate landscape of grief with sensitivity and empathy. Through active listening and the use of non-judgmental language, we demonstrate our willingness to engage in conversations about complex family dynamics and provide unwavering support to our families as they navigate their grief.

We recognise that planning a funeral is not just about honouring the deceased; it’s also about supporting those who are grieving. In the case of someone who wasn’t well-liked, family and friends may be grappling with a mix of emotions, including anger, sadness, frustration, and even guilt. Taking these feelings into account is essential in creating a funeral service that offers comfort and closure to all involved. Keep in mind that some may be grieving deeply, while others may feel conflicted or even relieved by the passing of the deceased. 

Picaluna Funeral Directors strive to create a space where all invited attendees feel welcome and supported, regardless of their feelings towards the deceased.

Embracing Compassion and Empathy

When planning a funeral for someone who wasn’t well-liked, it’s easy to fall into the trap of judgment and resentment. However, it’s crucial to approach the situation with compassion and empathy. Remember that every individual has their own struggles and challenges, and it’s not our place to judge them for their shortcomings. 

Instead, focus on extending empathy towards the deceased and their loved ones. Try to see the person beyond their flaws and mistakes and acknowledge the complexity of human relationships. While they may not have been well-liked by everyone, they were still a son, daughter, sibling, or friend to someone. 

Finding empathy in this difficult situation can help foster healing and understanding among those involved. 

Managing Expectations and Potential Challenges

Planning a funeral for someone who wasn’t well-liked can come with its fair share of challenges and potential conflicts. Family members may disagree on the details of the service, including who should be invited, while friends and acquaintances may have conflicting emotions about attending. 

To navigate these challenges, it’s essential to manage expectations from the outset. Be prepared for potential conflicts or tensions among attendees and have a plan in place for addressing them calmly and respectfully.

Set clear boundaries and prioritise the well-being of grieving loved ones above all else. Remember that not everyone will have the same feelings towards the deceased, and that’s okay. 

People who are not welcome to the service may turn up uninvited. If you suspect this will happen, let your Funeral Director know so that they are forewarned with an agreed-upon strategy. 

Picaluna Celebrants encourage attendees to focus on their own grief and healing process rather than dwelling on past grievances or resentments.

Tailoring the Funeral Service

One of the most challenging aspects of planning a funeral for someone who wasn’t well-liked is tailoring the service to suit the circumstances. Unlike a traditional funeral where the deceased is fondly remembered and celebrated, this situation requires a more nuanced approach. Start by choosing a funeral venue and format that aligns with the situation. A funeral or memorial is something that can happen in whatever space and with whatever format works for you and your family. If you are dreading the whole concept of a funeral, keep in mind that a funeral will be whatever you make it. It does not need to look like a traditional funeral. If you don’t want it, you don’t have to go the whole open casket, a formal mass, or traditional funeral home route.

Sometimes it’s best to keep the service simple and short. In cases where the deceased was not well-liked, a straightforward and brief service can help avoid unnecessary tension and conflict. A simple ceremony allows those who genuinely cared for the individual to pay their respects without prolonging the gathering, which might be uncomfortable for some attendees. Additionally, a minimalist approach can be more respectful to those who had complicated relationships with the deceased, as it avoids forcing them into prolonged and potentially distressing social interactions. By keeping the service concise, you can focus on the essential elements of remembrance and closure, ensuring the event remains dignified and considerate of everyone’s feelings.


Choosing the right venue for the funeral service is a crucial decision that can greatly impact the overall atmosphere and tone of the event. When planning a funeral for someone who wasn’t well-liked, it’s essential to consider whether a traditional formal chapel service is appropriate or if a more casual gathering would better suit the circumstances.

A formal chapel service may offer a structured setting for attendees to come together and pay their respects. However, it may not always feel like the most fitting option for honouring someone whose life was marked by complexities or challenges. In such cases, opting for a more casual and intimate gathering can provide a warmer and more personal environment for remembering the deceased.

Picaluna Funeral Directors understand the importance of finding the right funeral venue to reflect the individuality of the deceased and their relationships. With their extensive network of non-traditional local funeral venues, they can offer a range of unique options that may not have been considered otherwise. From tranquil outdoor settings to intimate community spaces, these venues provide meaningful settings for honouring the life and legacy of the deceased in a way that feels authentic and respectful.


Start by reflecting on the deceased’s musical preferences, if known. Did they have favourite songs or genres that held special meaning to them? Consider incorporating these into the service to evoke memories and emotions among attendees. Even if the deceased’s tastes were unconventional or eclectic, honouring their musical preferences can serve as a touching tribute to their individuality.

Alternatively, select music that resonates with significant moments or themes in the deceased’s life. Choose songs that symbolise moments of joy, resilience, or personal growth, regardless of whether they were universally liked by others. By focusing on the positive aspects of the deceased’s life journey, you can create a more uplifting and celebratory atmosphere during the service.

It’s also essential to consider the emotional impact of the music on attendees. While it’s natural to acknowledge the complexities of the deceased’s relationships, the funeral service should ultimately serve as a platform for healing and remembrance. Choose music that uplifts and comforts, rather than exacerbates feelings of sadness or regret.

Readings + Poems

Incorporating readings and poems into the funeral service of someone who wasn’t well-liked offers an opportunity to reflect on their life journey with compassion and understanding. Consider selecting readings or poems that speak to themes of resilience, forgiveness, and the complexity of human relationships. Focus on pieces that offer solace and comfort to attendees while also acknowledging the challenges and struggles faced by the deceased. By choosing readings and poems that resonate with the individual’s experiences and values, you can create a poignant and heartfelt tribute that honours their memory with dignity and respect.

Suggested Readings + Poems to Consider

Don’t Judge Me by Kathleen Wilson

This poem is suitable for its message of understanding and empathy. It emphasises the complexity of human experiences and reminds attendees not to judge the deceased harshly, acknowledging that everyone faces their own struggles and challenges.

Time Will Ease the Hurt – Bruce B Wilmer

This poem offers solace and comfort to grieving attendees by highlighting the healing power of time. It reassures them that while the pain of loss may be overwhelming now, it will gradually lessen with the passage of time, offering hope and perspective during a difficult period.

When I Come to the End – Mosiah Lyman Hancock

This poem is fitting for its reflection on life’s journey and the eventual acceptance of mortality. It encourages attendees to contemplate the legacy they leave behind and find peace in the knowledge that their struggles and hardships are part of a larger, meaningful narrative.

To see the full wording of these poems and others, check out this blog post.


Crafting a eulogy for someone with whom you didn’t share the strongest bond can present a challenge. Typically, eulogies are a tribute filled with fond memories and celebrations of the deceased’s life and the joy they brought to others. Writing a eulogy is inherently daunting, but it can be even more so if the individual caused you pain or if you struggle to find positive aspects to highlight. 

Determining the appropriate content for a eulogy for a challenging individual hinges on various factors. You must consider the audience and the emotional impact the eulogy will have on them while also reflecting on your own values and the level of honesty you wish to convey. 

Above all, maintaining a tone of respect is paramount. A funeral service is not a place to air dirty laundry. Funerals serve as a platform to pay homage and bid a final farewell, with attendees likely already grappling with grief. It’s essential to avoid exacerbating any existing pain or distress. 

If you find it difficult to express anything positive or even neutral about the deceased, it’s generally advisable to refrain from speaking altogether.

Picaluna Celebrants are able to write and deliver the eulogy for you if necessary. This can be especially helpful when emotions are running high, or if you feel unsure about how to appropriately honour the deceased. Professional celebrants are skilled in crafting eulogies that balance honesty with respect, even when the individual had a complicated or contentious life. They can capture the essence of the person’s story, acknowledging their humanity without glossing over the complexities. By entrusting this task to a Picaluna Funeral Celebrant, you can ensure that the eulogy is delivered with grace and sensitivity, providing a meaningful tribute while alleviating the burden on family and friends during a difficult time.

The Option of Direct Cremation

In situations where the deceased wasn’t well-liked, planning a traditional funeral service may not feel appropriate or necessary. It’s essential to recognise that there’s no obligation to hold a formal funeral or memorial service if it doesn’t align with the wishes of the deceased or their loved ones. In such cases, a direct cremation or burial without a service can be a viable alternative.

Direct cremation involves the cremation of the deceased shortly after death, without a formal funeral service beforehand. This option allows for a more private and simplified process, bypassing the need for elaborate funeral arrangements. It can be particularly suitable for individuals who lived quiet or solitary lives, or for families who prefer a more low-key approach to honouring their loved one.

Choosing direct cremation or burial without a service provides flexibility in how families choose to commemorate the deceased. They may opt for a small gathering or memorial at a later date, allowing time for reflection and remembrance without the immediate pressure of planning a formal funeral. This approach also offers financial savings compared to traditional funeral arrangements, making it a practical choice for some families.

You don’t have to have the ashes returned to you after the cremation if you don’t want them. Picaluna Funeral Directors can arrange the disposal of ashes for you. This service can be particularly beneficial if you feel uncertain about what to do with the ashes or if keeping them does not feel appropriate for you. By allowing Picaluna to handle this aspect, you can ensure the ashes are treated with dignity and respect, while also relieving yourself of the potential stress or discomfort associated with deciding their final resting place.

Finding Meaning

Despite the challenges, planning a funeral for someone who wasn’t well-liked can offer an opportunity for finding meaning. Take the time to reflect on the deceased’s life and find moments of positivity or growth amidst the difficulties. Encourage attendees to share stories and memories of the deceased, if not during the service then after the service, focusing on moments of connection and shared humanity. While they may not have been universally liked, everyone leaves behind a legacy worth remembering. Finding meaning in their life can help bring comfort to those who are grieving.

Supporting the Grieving Process

Finally, remember that the funeral is just the beginning of the grieving process for those left behind. In the days and weeks that follow, offer support to family and friends who may be struggling with complicated emotions. Encourage them to seek out grief counselling or support groups if needed, and let them know that they’re not alone in their grief. Above all, be patient and understanding as they navigate this difficult time. Grief is a complex and deeply personal experience, and everyone processes it differently. By offering support and understanding, you can help those who are grieving find comfort and healing in the midst ofloss.

Beyond the ceremony itself, Picaluna Funeral Directors are dedicated to supporting individuals on their journey toward healing and acceptance. We offer a range of resources to facilitate this process, reflecting our commitment to compassionate care. We can connect you with local grief counsellors, support groups, and hotlines to ensure you have the support you need.

One of Picaluna’s charity partners is Griefline Australia, a national not-for-profit organization that provides free and confidential support to those experiencing grief and loss. Griefline’s services are designed to help people navigate the complex emotions and challenges associated with losing a loved one, ensuring that no one has to face their grief alone.

More to think about

Planning a funeral for someone who wasn’t well-liked is undoubtedly a challenging task, but it’s also an opportunity for compassion, empathy, and healing. By understanding the complexity of the situation, embracing empathy towards the deceased and their loved ones, and tailoring the funeral service with care and sensitivity, we can honour every individual’s life journey, regardless of popularity. In doing so, we not only pay tribute to the deceased but also offer comfort and closure to those who are grieving.

So wherever you are based – whether it’s SydneyNewcastleCentral CoastBrisbane or Melbourne – Picaluna has a compassionate Funeral Director who understands the complexities involved and can expertly guide you through the funeral planning process.

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