Ch.235 Pre-Arranging My Funeral

Ch.235 Pre-Arranging My Funeral

Jan. 2024

          There are some things one should not attempt to discuss via texting. I found that out when I texted a message to my daughter Cindy that I was meeting with the director at Pat’s funeral home to arrange my funeral. A long silence followed as I imagined her response to this unexpected development. I felt her tears. After a minute Cindy did reply, trying to write the appropriate things, but I knew I had erred. I picked up the phone and called her so we could, and did, have a nice talk.

          I have three good reasons to “pre-arrange” (as the director called it) my funeral. First, if I were to become ill with a long-term and expensive disease (cancer, dementia, etc.) I might use up all my funds before my demise. Then my kids would have to pay for my last rites, which doesn’t seem right. Secondly, I had to make a series of difficult decisions just after Pat died: what casket to purchase, what songs to play, what to write in her obituary, which newspapers to place that obituary. I didn’t want my kids to have to make as many decisions. A third reason, less compelling but important, was that I’ve seen during my counseling career how families can become embroiled in conflict after the death of a loved one. What if my children did have to decide whether to buy a good casket or a better one? What if one says “good” and another says “better?”

          I must admit there is a fourth, less noble reason for my decision. I want to be in control of what happens at my funeral. This way I get to choose, for example, what songs to play in the background as people arrive. Also, since I am agnostic, I prefer that no religious hymns or prayers are part of the ceremony. I won’t tell my children what to say, though, if they choose to offer their thoughts during the ceremony. I know they will speak from their hearts.

          My daughter Jenny and I met with the funeral director a few days ago. I purchased a life insurance policy that hopefully will keep pace with inflation. We chose a casket, the same as Pat’s. In fact, I want my funeral to play out much like Pat’s.

          When I called the mortuary to begin this process, the answering service woman asked me if I was in hospice. I am not in hospice and hopefully won’t be there for another decade, but pre-arranging my funeral has forced me to think about my mortality. Somehow, even witnessing Pat’s journey, I’ve never really considered my death. Intellectually, of course, I know I will die. I could say I’m not scared by the prospect; more honestly, emotionally, I’m still numb to the idea. Perhaps now I am ready to feel death at a deeper level. And that is scary.