Have the Conversation

Does your family know what your wishes are for your funeral and the disposal of your remains and your treasures? Oh sure, you might have a will and a living will, but have you actually said out loud to someone who needs to know what you want done with your body? Nobody likes to have this conversation, because having it might hasten the need for it. But talking about it way ahead of time, when emotions and stress arent running high, makes the whole ordeal a little easier to handle.

My mother has not only paid for her funeral and her burial plot, but she has also picked out her casket, the songs she wants played, and where to have the funeral luncheon. I know, the luncheon part is a bit over the top, but I am so grateful to her for having eliminated that whole dilemma of how much to spend on someones funeral. One of my friends who regularly reads this blog is a funeral director and pastor, so I hope she comments on todays posting.

Mother and I sat down together last week to go over some details that we had already discussed last year, but she wanted to talk about them again. This conversation was not for me, but for her. She wanted to make sure I had the list of pall bearers she had chosen. Of course, she couldnt find the list she had made, so I suggested a few names we had talked about before. No, not that one, she said. Im saving him to be your companion. My companion? Yes, its customary to have someone stand with you at the gravesite. But my kids will be with me. Why would I need this other man to be my so called companion? Because it should be a man, she answered. Seriously? I think that rule of funeral etiquette went out some time in the 40s. But, whatever. If she wants to name this man as companion, thats fine. As I said, this conversation was for her. She wanted to make sure I would contact a certain woman at her church to organize the luncheon afterward. She suggested someone to ask to play the piano. Then we moved on to her obituary. She thought she had already given the funeral director the facts and dates needed, but a moment of inspiration came to me. How about if we list all the organizations you belonged to? What was the name of the college you went to? How long did you work at Chevrolet? What were your pen names for those books you wrote? By the end of the afternoon, she was feeling much better. Everything was in order, and her obituary sounded pretty darned good. She has always loved being in charge of everything, from what we were having for supper each night to where we would live. She was an officer in every club she was ever in, and always the president for at least one term. She thrived on planning. And she was good at it. Kara and I come by it naturally. Why not oversee what I write in the obit? Why not have a say in who carries her casket? I get it that she needs to have control, up to and including the end, but I draw the line at deciding what kinds of sandwiches to serve.

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2 thoughts on “Have the Conversation

  1. When a loved one departs it’s a real blessing to have these things settled; it eases a lot of burdens at a time when you truly need it.

  2. It is so important to share with a family member what you want or are thinking when it comes to your final wishes. I’m so excited that Mom is talking with you about this. It makes it so much easier at the time of need for family members. When my husband’s auntie passed, she had taken him to the side only a few weeks before and had talked to him about it. So, when the time came, and her sisters were trying to make decisions, Terry already knew what she wanted. Talking about these things not only helps the family at the time of need, but also helps the person in preparation of the time. I have seen many that have come in ahead of time to make those arrangements sit and laugh about things that happened in their lives. Then when the time comes, we are also able to bring those thoughts and fun memories alive to remember the loved one. It brings peace…to everyone! Thanks for sharing this, Mary. It helps us as pastors and funeral directors, also.

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