I really should officially plan my own funeral soon. After all there are no guarantees for tomorrow. I’ve already been intimately involved in the planning of three funerals. Two were pre-planned well ahead of time, and one was unexpectedly thrust upon the family. In chronological order they were: the planned funeral for my step-mom, the unplanned one for my brother, and the planned one for dad.
The death of my brother Mark was not anticipated because he was the youngest member of the family. Whereas my step-mom had suffered a severe stroke, awakening us to the need to provide for her memorial service. Dad planned for his own needs long before he went to the nursing home.
Mark’s funeral was the most difficult because everything seemed like it had to be done on the spur of the moment. We were granted a few extra days because Mark had specified that he wished to be an organ donor and indicated so on his driver’s license. We used the extra time to carefully plan the ceremony, and I took time to compose his eulogy.
The day of the funeral arrived and with it, a severe ice storm. That meant postponement. Mark had been cremated, which meant it was possible to reschedule his service. It also gave me extra time to edit and update his eulogy. When, the day arrived again, we felt better about the funeral because we used the time to add to the funeral and the memorial lunch. The interment of the cremains could take place later in the year when the weather moderated towards Spring.
Dad wanted his own funeral to go off without a hitch. Dad and I scheduled a meeting with the funeral home. Every major detail was specified and planned exactly the way dad wanted. A certificate of deposit (CD) was purchased with the sole purpose of paying for the expenses. Dad had already bought a family cemetery plot several years earlier, so that aspect was not a worry.
The funeral for Tippy, my step-mom, was to take place in her home village in Thailand. It would be a Thai Buddhist ceremony to be performed by monks at her childhood temple. Dad had paid the necessary expenses for the ceremony and the anticipated food bill to provide for the traditional village feast in her honor. We would receive photographic documentation of the highlights of the rites and village activities.
Tippy’s friends and American family members could not travel overseas for her funeral, so we had pre-planned a memorial service to take place at dad’s church. Dad and I set up a meeting with dad’s pastor and the funeral home in order to allow for a memorial service that respected both dad’s Methodist beliefs and Tippy’s Buddhist practice. The funeral home took care of the necessary documentation and arrangements to transfer the cremains to Thailand.
Cremation allowed the date and time of the memorial service in Nebraska to be flexible, plus it was easier to coordinate the transit of the cremains to Thailand for the ceremony there. The extra time ensured that dad and I could work together to compose the speech I was to present at the memorial service. The service was respectful and satisfying for dad, the family, and our friends.
The point is, plan for what will happen after your demise. Outline the most important details then later you can follow up with special details that you want included in your funeral or memorial service. This is also the time to start the plan to finance everything.
Plan now for the inevitable. Why not create a funeral that will honor you and enable your survivors to experience a memorable life event? What type of funeral do you envision for yourself? Take time to give it some thought and jot down notes. Be sure to share your thoughts in writing with a trusted friend or family member. Then pre-plan the required details with a funeral home. Make sure that everything will be paid for ahead of time.
The Blue Jay of Happiness shares a favorite quote from Mark Twain. “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”