Wayne Stellmach Director of Marketing Wilbert Funeral Services, Inc. IMSA Board MemberSo here I am in the funeral service industry and still haven’t had The Talk of a Lifetime with my 85-year-old dad – or with my own children. It’s certainly not because I avoid thinking about or talking about death, like many families do. It’s not because I am unaware or in denial that death can come unexpectedly. I am reminded daily of the capriciousness of death and knowing that, I am anxious to have The Talk. So why haven’t I? Because of daily life. Work. Family events. Commitments. Sure, even some fun. Sound familiar? Of course it does…those of you who serve families directly hear it all the time. It’s called procrastination. But I’m going to beat myself up even further with a more blunt word: foolishness. Last year, I lost a friend who received a sudden diagnosis of cancer and died within three months. Even facing a Stage IV diagnosis, he and his wife were so caught up with reckoning and treatments that they never had The Talk. The day he died, she called me in tears because she found she really didn’t know how he would like to be remembered, what his favorite childhood memories were and asked me if he and I ever talked about those things – as well as his preferences for final disposition and funeral services. You know, The Talk. The talk that he should have had with his wife. And the talk that I never had with him either, as I regretfully told her. She felt lost, her heart-wrenching loss of her husband compounded further because she had no idea of how he wanted to be remembered. Sure, she could draw on their 20 years of marriage, but there were 40 years before that. So it’s high time I have The Talk with my Dad. Fortunately, we’re very close and I know many of his life stories, his passions and loves, the fact that his singular point of pride is that he raised seven children in an atmosphere of love and support and has lived to see how his grandchildren have been raised similarly, in large part because we all remembered how Dad and Mom did it. I guess you might say we have had the “pre-talk” of a lifetime. But there’s more. And I need to involve my brothers and sisters and step-mom (we missed the opportunity for The Talk with my mom who was taken abruptly many years ago). He’s not getting any younger…nor are we. His birthday is in a few weeks…what better time to hear his stories, share some laughs and memories. And it’s time that I sit down with my own kids and have My Talk of a Lifetime. My wife’s Talk of a Lifetime. Enough procrastination. Enough foolishness. But guess what has finally motivated me to take action? Have the Talk of a Lifetime®. Even working in the funeral industry for the past four years was not sufficient to place that bug in my ear that I need to have The Talk. I needed to be told in black-and-white. And that’s what we all need to continue to do with everyone we touch. It’s so important. After all, it’s the Talk of a Lifetime.
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