One Thing I Will Not Do is Force Someone Else to Figure Out My Memorial
I’ve said it before and I will say it again…do not, under any circumstances, make your family plan out your memorial / celebration of life / funeral for you! It really is a kinda cruel thing to do. And not only that, they will likely overspend on something quick, familiar, and impersonal because they simply a) do not have the energy to figure out a fitting last party for you, and b) they honestly don’t know what you would want.
When someone close to us passes away it is a horribly difficult time. There are SO many immediate decisions to be made; who to contact, how to close out accounts, how to get access to pensions/life insurance policies/checking accounts/social security monies, who to give which sentimental items to.
Then there is the very long list of what to do with all the stuff.. what to do about their cars and recreational vehicles, maybe there is medical equipment in the home that needs to be cleaned up and moved out, the workshop full of tools needs to be addressed. None of these are easy decisions to make, and they are just a few of what will be required.
On top of these responsibilities one may have to still go to work, they may be trying to help their children navigate death, they probably are not sleeping or eating well, they are exhausted, stressed, and may be in physical pain due to the overwhelm of it all.
And I did not even begin to touch on the fact that they are juggling all of this while they are also grieving. It is a very, very difficult time.
Now they have to plan for your memorial as well. They will want to honor you somehow, even if you do not want them to, and they will need to do some sort of ceremony to help them process their grief. This is healthy, helpful, and necessary.
The aforementioned scene is chaotic and stressful, but now imagine this scenario; since you are a responsible and kind person your family knows just what to. You have done your due diligence and made a file or box clearly accessible and titled “What to do when I pass away”. Your family finds it quickly and there is all your paperwork complete with contact information as well as passwords needed for each account. Your will or trust is also included so they don’t have to guess who to give your grandmother’s wedding ring to or who gets your classic car. You’ve already made arrangements with your favorite thrift store to donate your furniture, here is the name and number of the person to call. Everything you could think of is taken care of (plus a few more things because you smartly researched what to include way ahead of time).
Things are getting a little easier for your family. And they are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.
Among your vital documents is a thoughtfully penned instruction guide. “How I Want My Life Remembered”. Here you save your family time and money. You also gift them the secure feeling of knowing exactly what to do next.
This can be a list, or a page, or several pages. It can be very specific or just bullet points, what matters most is that you cover the important basics.
My instruction guide states that I want a remembrance ceremony at the beach led by a Memorial Celebrant. There should be at least two rituals; one themed around water the other themed around fire. Actually, scratch that – 4 rituals, one for each element; water, fire, earth, and air. After the remembrance ceremony a feast is a must, delicious food set on a beautiful table with an abundance of flowers.
Next is a Celebration of Life Party with twinkle lights, a bonfire, music, games (Corn Hole and massive Jinga and Connect Four), and many laughs and hugs shared over drinks. There should also be a Christmas tree dressed in lights and decorated with my favorite Christamas ornaments. Each person will be invited to take one my most sentimental ornaments home with them as a keepsake.
An absolute non negotiable for my Celebration of Life is my family MUST hire an event planner to pull it all together. They will not have to be managers or orchestrators of this party, they will participants and my guests.
Often people say, “When I die I want a party! No tears, just good times”. The problem with this idea is that when you die your family will not be in the emotional state to plan a celebratory party. They may not even be capable of feeling joy in that moment. So we must guide them, we must remind them how we have experienced joy together. We must tell them how we want to be celebrated, and we must show them how to feel happiness when they are in the throes of grief. This final gift we give them is absolutely priceless.
Spend some time in thought about how you truly want to be remembered and write it down. If you want a Celebration of Life think about what you do, think, and feel when you are celebrating and try to recreate that for your final party. This may not be an easy exercise for you, but I promise you your family will thank you for it.
If you have any questions along the way I am here to help! What kind of Memorial Ceremony do you want?
Until next time many hugs and lotsa love,