Truth has taken on vague connotations in recent years, but there is one truth every sane person agrees about: no one wants to think about their death or plan for it. Those are the last wishes this post ruminates and expounds.
It began for us with a simple mailer. Although for me it began five years ago when my mother succumbed to the war lymphoma won over her physical body.
For my husband, things aren’t so cut and dried. His father’s living under an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but his physical health is strong. Denial is no stranger to me, so I understand the proclivity to push things off until later.
But later always comes.
Easy and Hard
Death comes for everyone. And after that, those of us remaining will grieve.
That’s never easy. Some deaths are harder to face than others.
But sitting at a table with the funeral director doesn’t have to be hard for those we’ve left behind.
In the case of my mother, she had everything planned out and prepaid. It took us maybe thirty minutes to pick out the pamphlet they’d print for her service and decide where and when to hold it.
It still wasn’t “easy” because our hearts were bleeding. But it could have been worse than facing a firing squad, and it wasn’t.
When my husband or sons have to sit at that table, I want them to have the answers. I don’t even want them to have to see the questions.
Nothing will be easy, but a hard time can be lessened with a little cash and forethought.
Money and Planning
Yes, making death easier to swallow comes down to the money. And the forms the final wishes counselor filled out at our dining room table. There are still too many blanks on those forms, but they’ll be filled in.
My kids had fun joking about spilling the ashes or carrying them around in the trunk of their car. I think my youngest son brought up the idea that the etched box I’m envisioning will become the “white elephant gift” passed between their houses each Christmas.
Yeah, but I’m not dead yet. And although my oldest son had no interest in discussing the subject, we did manage to decide that investing money on a niche or plot to keep the ashes was pointless. No one would visit them after they were interned. Why not set them free somewhere?
My soul will be long gone. “Going up to the Spirit in the sky.”
Two advantages of pre-planning and prepaying:
- The meeting at the table is about minor details instead of major decisions
- There’s no invoice due to double the grim moment
In the End
Truth: I’ll be dead. Those who survive me can choose to follow my plan or do something different.
My last wishes will be paid for already. If they decide to embellish things, they’ll get a bill. If they would rather skimp out on the flowers, box and pretty bookmarks, the funeral director cuts them a check.
In the end, I’ll still be gone. I doubt I’ll be watching from Heaven to see that my last wishes are fulfilled verbatim. I’ll have more important things to do: like gape at translucent gold streets and catch up with my mother and grandmother and others who’ve been enjoying the endless vacation.
And as much as my kids didn’t want to talk about it now, I hope when the time comes, they’ll appreciate that their dad and I took as much of the sting out of a difficult time as we could.
Because that’s what parents do.
Do you have a plan in place for your final wishes? Are there some things you don’t think parents should discuss about this with their kids? Have you faced a more difficult funeral home discussion?