Monday, September 24, 2007

The gift of planning

It seems that nearly every day I think of something that I can't believe I forgot to include in the book. My sigoth (significant other) keeps telling me that I can put it in the second edition which is true, if there is one. For now, I'm just gonna blog it!

I went to my transplant buddy's memorial service yesterday. As weird as this may sound, I was really looking forward to it. I hadn't had the chance to see her before she died so I was anxious to learn more about how/why she died as well as say my formal goodbyes. Out of respect for those there and my friend, I won't tell any details of the service.

What I will say, is that it reminded me of a lesson I learned long ago and forgot. Plan your own memorial. Even if you aren't sick, just do it. It doesn't have to be elaborately planned, just a few key points. Where do you want it to be held? How are people going to find out that you're sick or passed away? Make a call/email list and give it to someone you trust. Is there a certain song or kind of music you want played?

Most important: Who do you want to speak?? I have been to far too many funerals in which the person doing most of the talking barely knew the deceased. Somehow, in doing their research, they manage to pick out the wrong people to learn about the person and end up painting a picture that just doesn't match up with the person's life. I think there is a need to make that person's life seem perfect or to exaggerate the difficulties. There is nothing more that I want for my service than an accurate and balanced portrayal of all of me. I want the people in the room to remember me not sit there thinking "Did she really say that? That doesn't sound like something she would say!" I have picked my person and if Glen doesn't do it, just forget the whole thing!

Also, I think planning your service and leaving instructions on if you want cremation, burial etc. is a tremendous gift to those left behind. Often, people feel so much pressure to "do right" by the deceased and if they don't know what that person wanted it can be so painful trying to make those decisions. Leave the gift of planning to those you love!

After the memorial yesterday, my sigoth and I had a long talk about the point of memorials and funerals. He doesn't see much need to participate in such a thing. I can understand that but, for me, I feel it's important for four reasons.
1-If I'm up in heaven listening, I imagine it will make me happy to know I'd made an impact.
2-and much more importantly-It will give people that I love an chance to come together and get a 360 degree view of me. We all have parts of our lives that are separate from the other parts and, often, the only time those worlds come together is at a funeral.
3-For people who were not there at the end, it will give them an opportunity to find out how and why I died. It will bring closure for those that can't really feel it because they were not there to witness it.
4-I think it would make my parents feel good to have support.

Do you think funerals and memorials serve a purpose or are just an old custom that should be abandoned? Do you think people would be angry with Jason if he didn't show up to my funeral? Why?
I'm really interested in getting more opinions on this topic. Please leave me comments and give me your perspective on these things!


Jen! said...

Wow - not a pleasant topic, but a real one. I think that funerals are to help the people left behind get closure. I've never thought about it helping give a full picture of what the person was like, but that is pretty cool. And yes, I think if a spouse didn't show up to a funeral that people would be mad. That would be my initial reaction, but then I would have to remember that people respond differently to difficult situations and what might be helpful for one person may be detrimental to another.

Sarah said...

The most memorable funeral I ever went to was for a distant cousin. The preacher had been a neighbor and friend of the family while growing up. This preacher knew my cousin & his family so well that he was able to paint an incredibly vivid picture. I didn't know my cousin very well, and I learned a lot about who he was & about the people who loved him. It was truly a celebration of his life. I think that's what a funeral should be.

Femail doc said...

I love a good funeral, wouldn't miss one of friends, family, or patients (although don't wish for any of these soon, just love 'em when I need 'em to say a final good-bye). I feel cheated at funerals that are generic--i.e. could be most anybody dead. Favorite music, a poster board of pictures, and, best of all, open mike at the end for anyone to say their personal but shortish sort of memorial.

I think planning one's own memorial is a wonderful soul search, and the agenda would be a happy find for the sigoth at a tough time for them.

Femail doc said...

Sigoth, never heard that one before. I like it. Sigoths should be allowed to do whatever they need to do after a loved one died.

JC said...

This isn't a very cheerful topic to discuss, but it is something to think about. I would not want my family going through not only the pain of loosing me, but the pain of having to plan a memorial service for me with no clue on what I want.

I will follow your advice and give a detailed account of what I want to happen (who I want to speak, that I want to be cremated, what songs I want and who I want to come to my funeral).

The Reverend who talked about my Nana at her memorial service actually started visiting with my Nana before she died (of cancer). She and my Nana talked about what funny moments she wanted brought up, and I think the Reverend did a pretty good job. A couple other people also spoke too though.

Connie said...

I just wrote a post like this! Funerals are so important and yes I have mine planned. I even chose the music and scriptures. I want ME to show through the "ritual".

We recently lost my Uncle and having a pre-planned funeral made it much easier on us. There's still a lot to do and decide on. So I'll be adding to my list soon.

Don't forget advance directives and a will.

Brake said...

Very important. I know my sigoth would be devistated. We've already spoken about how difficult everyday things would be after one of us popped off. Imagine if he had to plan a funeral. Funerals and Wills, both very important indeed. I must say, having two kids also makes me think how I would want them to remember me for the person I was before and after they came into my life. I agree it's a beautiful thing to have a party that relives the good the bad and the very ugly as a cathartic measure for all friends and family. It's closure. And especially for us rather large, dramatic individuals, I think it's important to portray thier larger than life self after death.

Jill Mertens said...

I agree with Jen that funerals are helpful for the ones left behind. I always thought of them as terribly sad occassions, though, until I had a chance to go to one with my mom. At her Aunt Mary's funeral, she was so cheerful in remembering Aunt Mary and celebrating her life and all the loved ones still there. That's the way it should be. And I think documenting your thoughts about how you would want your funeral is a wonderful gift to leave behind!

As a family member, I think I would be really angry if the deceased's sigoth did not attend- it would feel disrespectful. It's good to learn about Jason's view, though. As always, you open my eyes to other views and keep me thinking!