Let's Talk About Death

My father-in-law passed away recently. His wife, while he was on his deathbed, removed his wedding ring. We asked her, what she was doing. And she replied that she didn't want anybody to steal it when he is buried. I had to chuckle and say that there aren't grave robbers anymore, nor do we live in Ancient Egypt. She said she was just going to put it in her drawer - forever with some of her other jewelry. Feeling compelled, I asked would your husband not want to be buried with his wedding ring as it was such a part of his life, being married to her for the last 50 years. In the end she kept the ring off of his hand, after going back and forth a few times on the subject.

What this made me realize is that we do not talk about death as much as we should before actually dying. I think it is easier on your loved ones if you to let them know your wishes. When I was speaking with my own father and telling him the story I just shared, he said very frankly that he wouldn't want to be buried with his wedding ring on. I was shocked. I would have very much assumed that he would want to be buried with his wedding ring on given that he loves my mother so much. This only strengthens my point is that we should have these conversations.

My ex-mother-in-law did something that I thought was creepy when I first met her, but now I understand and actually admire her for it. She went around her home, at around the age of 70, putting little nametags on all of her belongings. When I asked her what the heck she was doing she told me she was putting her children's names on her belongings so they didn't fight over anything when she was gone. Is this extreme? I'm not sure anymore.

To me when somebody passes away, respecting their wishes is your final act of honoring them. For instance some people may insist that they have a closed casket while others may insist they be buried in their favorite golf outfit. I think that there should be a list, not like a Will per se, but a list of things that you would like to see happen after you pass.

I'm not a photogenic person. I will have pictures picked out for my funeral before I go, to save from anybody posting a bunch of awful pictures of me in memory on some board or slide show.
Life doesn't go on forever and that we have to prepare ourselves for the end eventually. Thinking about these things isn't easy, that's for sure. Mortality is a slap in the face at best. Especially when we've seen so many die young, and die very ill. But lets be brave and by being brave and having these conversations, we are being kind to those we leave behind.

A few things about my funeral:
  • I want only the best photographs of me to be displayed
  • I want to closed casket
  •  my closest family can view my body but that is all, as I believe it is a very important part of the grieving process and for closure.
  • I want very specific songs played at my funeral such as amazing Grace and On the Wings of a Snow White Dove. Maybe a little White Stripes?
  •  I want my grandmother's engagement ring to go to my son and to be passed along to his children but I want to keep my engagement and wedding ring from Victor on my finger for eternity. 
  • Only orange flowers at my funeral. No boring flowers allowed.
  • I also want twinkle lights, I'm not kidding.

Other Things to consider:
  • When somebody passes, the funeral home will ask if you want them to be embalmed or not. Embalming is a sort of preservative. If you do not embalm, then you must be buried quickly in accordance with the law, apparently. I didn't know we actually had this choice. I say embalm me so my family isn't put under the stress of time restraints at such a time.
  • Clothing and other items that a person might like to be buried with. Photos, jewelery, etc.
  • Cremation, burial, vault, ground...etc.
  • Would you like to have a Viewing/Visitation with family, or what I call a Wake.
  • Type of ceremony - religious etc.
  • Is there a specific place the person would like to have the services and viewing?

I'm going to sit down with my parents and interview them about what they would like for their funerals. They have already begun planning by paying in advance, just like my dear grandmother did. These conversations need to happen so that I can truly know what their wishes are when the day comes. Although I can say for certain at that time I will be completely inconsolable. I adore my parents, and the last thing that I want to think about is their departure from this earth and from my life. I realize that their wishes for their funeral arrangements are sacred and important and I would like to honor them by respecting those wishes. So I've created this checklist if anybody would like to use it for themselves or their family members, for that day is inevitable and none of us can avoid it, but we can be prepared and prepare loved ones to make it easier on them when it's time to make important decisions about our funeral arrangements.

Good luck out there, JB
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