Chad Bird has written well of six things he does NOT want said at his funeral. I can only echo his comments here. Don't say I was a good man. Last time I checked good works (neither the abundance nor their poverty) was what commended us before God. Even if I was all that good, how does it comfort those who survive me to have lost "such a good man?" Don't call out my name (more than a few times and where liturgically it is directed). Call out the name of Jesus who forgives sinners, clothes the evil with His own righteousness, raises the dead to life, and prepares the place for the dead to go to be with Him forever. Don't dehumanize me by saying I am now a happy (though chubby) little angel flapping my new wings around heaven. Sentiments like this kills the honest hope of Christ's death and resurrection. Don't celebrate my life or console the folks left by telling stories about me. Lutherans have funerals. If my life meant anything, it deserves a funeral. Tell the story of Jesus because by my baptism this became my own story. Don't say that what lies in the coffin is but a shell of what I was. God did not merely make my soul; He also made my body -- fearfully and wonderfully -- and I look forward to the resurrection of the flesh and the new and glorious body Christ already wears and, by His promise, I will, too!
If I could add one thing to what Chad has written, I would only say don't read some banal, trivial, secular poem, piece of literature, or sentimental song and call it Gospel. Most of the stuff read at funerals is crap. It only increases the pain or diminishes the loss (falsely) and hardly any of it directs us to the real Gospel. No, resist the effort to recite some pithy saying that is rich in sentiment but devoid of the faith and the hope into which I was baptized. Even if you are not a Christian, I was so do not dishonor what God did in my baptism by equating some trivial saying with words of Him who is the way, the truth, and the life.
That said, it is the last thing that Chad said I want to focus on.... Don't say I would not want you to weep. I DO want you to cry at my funeral. Grieving as the informed who know the hope we have in Christ does not erase our tears of loss or the pain of death. Our hope sustains us in our grief. Our hope is our strength in weakness. Our hope enables us to endure the crushing loss of those whom we love. But it does not erase it as if there were no pain left in death, no sorrow, no sadness. Did Jesus grieve Lazarus' death or did He just put on a show of tears for the benefit of the people? As we shed our tears we affirm Him who wipes away every tear from our eyes. When Paul cautions us against grieving as the ignorant who have no hope, I think he has in mind the very idea that we are not here to be sad and shed our tears, but to celebrate the life of the deceased and to comfort ourselves with memories and the laughter of his many foibles. This IS the ignorance that both fails to acknowledge the reality of death as the consequence of sin as well as a denial of the wondrous miracle of Christ who ended death's reign and transformed the grave into the gate of everlasting life. I hope you will cry for me and in your tears will be comforted by the mercy of God which endures forever and by the death of Christ that sanctifies our own death and the grave of Christ that sanctifies the graves of all who die in Him.
I have shed many tears at funerals. Some funerals of beloved parishioners have been every bit as painful as those of my family members. I can recall standing at the grave and barely being able to utter the final words of the commendation: Christ is risen! I heard the people respond through their tears with the same wavering voice. He is risen indeed! This is exactly what it means to grieve. We shed our tears, we admit our broken hearts, but through the tears we also cry out to God both in confession of what we believe and as the invocation of His promise: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Those Christians who would try to paper over our sadness, dry up all our tears, and comfort us with our memories have failed to acknowledge exactly what it is that the terrible choice in Eden stole from us and what it is that the amazing grace of the cross and empty tomb of our Savior has restored. There is no glory in death except the glory of Him who died that we might live. Nope, don't celebrate me or my life or my accomplishments or my memorable moments (as foolish as they were). Do me the honor of some tears and, if my life has meant anything to you, speak faith through those tears in confessing Jesus Christ through the liturgy, the creed, and the prayers. Grieve.... but grieve with hope... Rejoice in Christ... but not by denying what it is that afflicted us sinners or what it is that Christ bore for us. You can do both. That is the paradox, the creative tension, in which we Christians meet death and confess Christ at the same time.