The planning of funeral liturgies is a favorite complaining point for us clergy. Inappropriate music choices, trite or vulgar eulogies, and the general assumption that funerals are 'celebrations of life' rather than sacrifice and intercession made on behalf of the dead, all of these--and more--get to be sore points between the faithful and their priests. I dealt with these things many times as a parish priest. I hated having to always go into a liturgy nervous about what crazy thing people might try to do, and struggled with temptations to indulge disdain for the people, I confess.
Having been out of parish work for almost a year, the distance has given me some perspective on these questions. The more I think about it, the more I come around to the assertion that it is the clergy who are to be blamed for these things, not the people.
First, eulogies. I have groaned inside as I have heard the dead disrespected with tacky stories. I have squirmed in the presider's chair as I heard drinking stories proclaimed in church. I'm sure many mourners and celebrants can relate. But here's the thing: as long as celebrities and politicians are allowed to have eulogies at their funeral Masses, you can't tell regular folks that they can't. If Barack Obama can get up in front of the Blessed Sacrament and praise Ted Kennedy, that means that someone can get up and talk about grandma's meatballs or uncle so-and-so's drunken misadventures. It's only fair, folks.
Second, music. Once folks get the idea that they need to hear some corny or secular song at the funeral of their loved one, it can be very difficult to find a way out of it. Policies help, but like so many things, there's some priest somewhere who allowed it, and therefore everyone else has a right to it. Again, the people aren't the problem, but the underlying assumption--embraced by most clergy--that the way one gets music into the liturgy is by 'picking songs.' A lot of priests have no more formal training or artistic sense than the average lay person (and sometimes less) and yet priests reserve the right to pick songs for Mass based on their tastes and 'themes.' Sorry, just because OCP or GIA publishes a piece of music doesn't mean that it is automatically appropriate for liturgy either. So, as long as we accept without question that the ordinary texts of the Mass are to replaced with songs and hymns that we have the right to pick and choose according to our own tastes and 'themes,' we can't tell the people they can't do the same thing, according to the 'theme' they imagine is important to them. So, priests, if you don't want people demanding silly or inappropriate music for funerals (and weddings for that matter) just undermine the whole assumption and tell the people (and yourself) that the music doesn't have to be picked in the first place because it's already there in the Missal and the Gradual. And yes, there are English versions of the Gradual, even for free!
Finally, preaching. The homily is one of those places where the whole 'celebration of life' problem comes into focus. People want a homily that 'makes it personal.' Not that this isn't possible with a principal emphasis on the paschal mystery and Christian hope, but often these things, which ought to be primary, fall to a secondary place at best. In other words, many times folks presume that the homily ought to be a eulogy, and are sometimes annoyed when they get the former. But again, here's the thing: most of the funerals I've been to for priests and religious have been the same thing, and sometimes even more outrageously so. Therefore, reverend fathers, if we want to undermine the encroachment of the 'celebration of life' model, we have to start with ourselves.