Just Cremate Me

Just Cremate Me

By Barbara Kemmis, Executive Director

Cremation Association of North America

One morning, my dad called me at work, which was a first. I was immediately concerned that bad news was coming, however it turned out my parents had made a resolution to “get their affairs in order.” They were starting the process of prearranging their funerals and updating all of their end-of-life documents. My dad’s plan was to have everything in order before I visited in a couple of months and was calling to confirm the funeral home he had chosen. The funeral home my parents chose is well respected in the community and displays the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) logo on its website and door. The crematory operators are all certified, which means they had gone to extra lengths in professional education. So I asked the President of the funeral home why he sought this designation for his business and staff, and what it means to the community he serves. He said, “Our affiliation is important to me and to the families we serve, because it demonstrates our commitment to the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.” When I visited my parents, we went to the bank and spent time reviewing documents – living wills and worksheets from the funeral home. Not surprisingly, my mom had planned a lovely funeral for herself at which her many friends from church and her social clubs, former students and others could gather together. My mom is a social creature known for her party planning. My dad’s worksheet simply stated, “Just cremate me.” He explained that he didn’t want us to be sad or mourn him. He didn’t want a big deal made about his passing. He would be in heaven and we would see him again when it was our time.

How many times have you had the same thought or a similar conversation with your friends or loved ones?

My mom and I looked at each other and then looked away. I said what she couldn’t at that moment. “I love you, Dad, and I will mourn you and I will cry when you die. I need to be surrounded by family and your friends and former students. I need to hear about the practical jokes you pulled in the classroom and the stories of your leadership in the church and community. I want to respect your wishes, but I will mark your passing. I love you too much not to.” It wasn’t until I was on the plane heading home that I realized we had started the Talk of a Lifetime. I resolved at that moment to continue the conversation, because my father deserved more than “just cremate me.” After a recent death in the family my father raised the subject again. I hadn’t attended the funeral, but my father’s impressions weren’t positive. My dad is still a modest man, a faithful Christian who lives his values and counts his proudest achievement as having instilled those values in his children. It was through a mediocre memorial experience that he realized in order for those values to be reflected at his funeral, we needed to talk openly about how he wanted to be remembered. This wasn’t prideful, it would instead be his last act of faith. Using the wonderful Have the Talk of a Lifetime materials available on this website can help your family have the conversation. You won’t regret it. Barbara Kemmis is the executive director of the Cremation Association of North America located in Wheeling, Illinois.

2 Responses to “Just Cremate Me”

  1. avatar Doris Maxey

    I would love to know how to get your materials…..Have the Talk of a Lifetime
    This article is very good because my husband and I have said the same thing….just cremate me. So love to read the info

    • avatar launchadmin

      You can download a workbook and a brochure from this website to help you get started with your Talk of a Lifetime, and if you would like to find help locally, you can search for a funeral professional in your area by using the search tool on the home page.


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