By Laurie LaGrange Hurtubise
You did it! You finally had that heartfelt discussion with your loved ones about what your end-of-life wishes are. Way to go! That wasn’t easy. It took courage. Difficult to get the conversation going, but in the end, everyone was relieved that the discussion had occurred. Now they know the answer to the question, “Cremation or Burial”?
If you are planning on a cremation, do you know what you are to do with their cremated remains once you receive them? There are a lot of options….
Scatter, turn them into a faux reef , keep a small portion in a keepsake urn or in a special pendant, have a work of art made with some cremated remains infused in the paint, infuse some cremated remains into a resin art piece, have a hand crafted wooden ring inlayed with your loved one’s cremated remains, encase them in a personalized glass piece. Maybe you want to inter them in a cemetery. Ground Burial or Niche Wall?
Maybe your family already has a connection to a cemetery that you feel drawn to. Maybe you want to choose a cemetery that is more convenient for the next generation to visit? Price may drive some of the decision making process. Generally, city owned cemeteries tend to be more affordable. Heritage Gardens is a private cemetery that is beautiful, sustainable and also reasonably priced. Perhaps a cemetery with a religious affiliation is what appeals to you, like Gardens of Gethsemani.
Do you have a favourite hymn? Would a hymn be the last thing that you want played at your funeral? Is live music important to you? Not Scottish, but love the bagpipes? Perhaps you are a musician or soloist and want to make a recording to be played at your own funeral.
Folks are either super passionate about flowers or couldn’t care less. Which one are you? Would a funeral be incomplete without lilies, or would half of the family be sneezing due to allergies?
Religious or Secular?
For the people with strong ties to a place of worship, this may be an obvious decision. If you have belonged to more than one faith group or have strayed from a place of worship, it is important to make your wishes known. The funeral is about the dead but for the living, so there may be a combination to ensure everyone “gets what they need”.
Not sure what to do with those rainy weekends? How about organizing your family photos? We often find families having a hard time choosing an obituary photo because they can’t find a well-lit clear photo of their loved one… without sunglasses or a hat. Take a page from my grandmother’s book. She had professional photos taken when she was eighty years old and let us
know that they were to be used for her obituary. When she died eighteen years later, it was something that we didn’t have to worry about.
Choosing who might share your eulogy can be a bit of a guessing game. Who is going to outlive who? Nothing wrong with choosing more than one family member or friend who would do you justice. Or do we work by process of elimination? Is there someone who you don’t want in control of the microphone at your memorial? Better let your Executor know now. Perhaps you want to put down some history and accomplishments on paper to assist them.
Do you think that writing your own obituary is morbid? It doesn’t have to be. It may be the wake up call you need to focus on what is truly important to you. “I wish I had worked more” -said no one ever on their death bed.
Do you have one that is up to date? Where is it? It is common for family members to be searching all around their parents’ house looking for a will. My Executors have copies and know where mine is. No added stress.
There may be a place that is special to you and yours that you may want to gather. Perhaps a place that brings back fond memories. Choosing a venue ahead of time isn’t necessary, but may be important to you.
Should we dress in your favourite colour or wear a jersey of your favourite team? Release butterflies for the nature lover? Have a specific scotch for a toast? Hold a fundraiser on the one-year anniversary of your death for your favourite charity?
OK. Lots to think about. One thing at a time. Let’s make talking about death and our mortality normal again. Let’s start healthy death discussions with our friends and family. We know how hard it can be. We have families and friends too. After 14 years in funeral service, I finally know what I am supposed to do for my parents, when their time comes. I am so relieved. I want you to feel that relief and peace of mind that I do.