Have you had the Talk of a Lifetime?
Sitting down with your loved ones to talk about their lives can be rich and satisfying. If you had the talk, how did it affect you?
On April 27th, 2005, my Mother died suddenly. On April11th her and I had gone out for our traditional birthday lunch… Looking back it was her way of saying goodbye… She didn’t want an open casket… She asked me to talk at her funeral (celebration of life). She wanted happy things and songs and no hum drum she said…and carnations…..so, I eulogized her funeral, we had happy songs and we had pastel balloons we let go at the end if service as she said I want happy and the Grandbabies to remember me… Kids love balloons! We did it her way, with carnations and happy things. It was a beautiful service… To this day I still get told by people that was the most beautiful service they have ever seen. We put poster boards up with photos that started with her great grandparents and they were put on easels around the room… It told her story! As for me… I’ve told my family.., burye I. A purple casket, with wildflowers at my funeral… They are to eulogize me as I carries them closer to my heart than anybody… They know what songs to play and the tribute if I were to go before my husband is “Boogie and Bacall”….and bury me next to my Mama.
As a Certified Funeral Celebrant, the alternative to clergy members at funerals and memorial services, I am also trying to raise my two young daughters with the awareness of death. Part of the human life cycle; we are spiritual beings experiencing a human experience—and we must all one day shed our earthly body and return it back to the earth.
Not only should we be planning for the inevitable, in making our final arrangements (at least leaving trusted family members or friends with what we would like in a funeral/memorial/final resting place), public schools should include in their curriculum, just like health and fitness, death and dying education. In addition to teaching theology and mental health, perhaps a more worldly view of Heaven and The Afterlife with age-appropriate tours to funeral homes and hospice care facilities.
By overcoming our fear of the unknown in avoidance of these “taboo topics”, we can avoid many situations with grieving families suffering the additional stress of having to decide after their loved-ones have passed.
Please visit the Resources & Links page of my web site for more information, and I am always interested in constructive feedback and requests for information about the above.
My husband Kevin & I seemed to attend many funerals which always promoted a “when I go I want” conversation on the way home. When his uncle passed away we had yet another conversation just like that but this time my husband gave a full account of how he wanted to be remembered to me and our teenaged children on the ride home. Three weeks later he was killed in a motorcycle accident. I was so thankful for that conversation. His death was sudden and tragic and I would not have had the where-with-all to know what he wanted. I’ve since had the conversation with my children.
I’ve always hated funerals. Probably because of my grandma’s funeral when I was in middle school. Her funeral made me never want to have a funeral of my own. It was at a funeral home that was cold and dark, and the officiant kept mispronouncing her name…, and talked about stupid stuff like how much she loved her church (she hardly ever went to church) and what an avid gardener she was (she had a raspberry patch in her back yard.., that was the sum total of her garden).
I always thought I’d just want to be cremated and scattered in the wind. Until my best friend’s wife died, and they had the most beautiful funeral/celebration of her life that I had ever been to. She had been sick, so she knew she was going to die. She and my friend had had long talks about the legacy she wanted to leave to her friends, family and especially her children.
It was then that I realized that the funeral isn’t exactly *for* the person who dies, it’s for the people who live.
A good funeral/memorial service helps keep your memory alive in those that are left behind when you die. So when I heard about “Talk of a Lifetime,” I was very interested in using it to help me talk to my family and friends so that in case I die (or one of them dies) we can hopefully have as beautiful of a service as the one we had for my friend’s wife.
After my father’s funeral, our family gathered (as families do) and reminisced about his life and how much he had meant to all of us. We all decided that we needed to do that with each other *before* we die so that each of us can be part of that discussion, and realize what we mean to our loved ones before it’s too late.
We also discovered that even though it was my father’s wish to be cremated, many of our relatives were sad that we had not had a wake so they could pay their final respects. It had not occurred to my father that the funeral services are as much about those that are left behind as it was about him. It made many of us re-think how we want to be memorialized.
Have the Talk of a Lifetime is a great idea, and has spurred lots of great discussions with my family and friends. It’s not always an easy thing to talk about, but it’s so very important to do so.
My father in law has COPD and we’ve been looking for the right time to have the talk with him. He’s very private and often jokes around to cover up how he’s really feeling. Our young daughter came up with some questions that she wanted to ask her grandpa that would help her get to know him better. So she proceeded to ask him, what are your proudest of in your life, who’s been your greatest role model, if you went back to school what would you become. The questions and answers led to some incredible, tear jerking conversation and we saw this man in a whole new different way.