© There is an old saying that goes: “Don’t worry. You won’t get out of this life alive.”
It’s not the getting out “alive” part that worries me. It’s the getting out, crossing to the “other” side, and then wondering “Now, what or who did I forget?” part that is disturbing.
Since we never know for sure when it will be “our time” to make that last journey, a little pre-planning concerning our last days and funeral service is probably in order almost regardless of age.
And, since many of this column’s readers are of senior citizen age (or nearing that age), it’s probably reasonable to approach the topic of funeral service planning from a senior citizen’s viewpoint.
Well, at least from “this” senior’s perspective.
Actually, I prefer to think of the sunset of one’s life as “the final scene in the final act” on the stage of life—not just focusing on the actual funeral service itself—but, rather on the entire event as your final “send-off party.”
You really don’t want your friends and relatives (hopefully some at least are one-in-the-same) so sad at your departure from their midst that they can’t have a good time remembering and celebrating their experiences with you.
Of course not.
So, let the funeral service party planning begin.
You may want to begin with designing and/or actually crafting your own coffin. Perhaps rather than that drab bronze casket in the traditional shape, you might prefer a wooden bass-boat shaped casket with separate panels along its sides allowing for your favorite art, photographs or other memorabilia that expresses your inner-self—depictions of those things that were important to you.
Think outside of the box.
The funeral celebration of your life can certainly be at a funeral chapel or church if that is what you really want. On the other hand, there is nothing that would prevent you from having your life celebrated at the 19th hole of your favorite golf course or on a cruise-ship touring the inside passage of Alaska.
Whatever floats your boat—and is within your pre-planning budget.
If you had a favorite restaurant, by all means consider picking up the tab (in advance) for some of your friends to enjoy a meal in your memory there. Have some special gifts and personalized cards of friendship thanks for them at the meal as a surprise.
Preparations like a special restaurant meal will require a responsible child or grandchild to “take care of everything” in your untimely absence.
Write your own obituary well in advance. And, be sure to write detailed letters of thanks and loving remembrances to those special people in your life for delivery at or before your final funeral service.
Like with graduations and weddings you should consider providing beautiful written invitations to your funeral service. Many of your business friends would consider inserting “discount coupons” for those who frequent their establishments shortly after, maybe a day or two, after the funeral service. The coupon could even include your photo or a favorite saying of yours.
You might also consider having door prizes during your final service giving away some of your possessions to those in attendance. You could include the drawing tickets along with the written invitations which might also improve the funeral service attendance.
If you have special music that you prefer to hear, regardless of what style it is, maybe the vehicle procession to the final resting place should include a “music car” with roof-top speakers (New Orleans procession style) broadcasting your favorite music.
Instead of the usual short obituary notice heard over the radio, you should consider pre-paying for radio spots to run periodically over the few months following your funeral—but especially on the anniversary of your death each year. The pre-recorded “spots” could give bits of un-asked-for advice, remarks about how things are on the “other” side, and a brief comment or two about how you miss everyone.
Certainly, the final act of dying, that being the absence of life or, in other words, “death” doesn’t have to be a totally sad event.
However, the late Jack Benny commented once about his immanent death and his huge amount of life insurance coverage with one company this way: “When I go, they go!”
But, if you plan your funeral service with the enjoyment and fun of your family and friends in mind, perhaps your final comment will be: “When I go, they come!”
By: Bob Grafe
October 4, 2009