As you know and perhaps have seen first hand, most families have to make decisions about ceremonies with only days to plan. A lot of special conversations are avoided because people are uncomfortable/afraid/upset/fill-in-the-blank with the idea of talking about what they want at their funeral ceremony.
This list could help change that. This list could begin the process of planning ahead. This list could help you have that special conversation.
At one of our recent workshops Dr. Bill Hoy gave us this list and asked each of us to cross out anything that we really didn’t want.
What was on the list? All the different kinds of ceremony options available for funeral/memorial services.
This activity really caught my attention. I’ve never seen the options laid out this way and I was curious to see if there was anything I would just HATE to have done.
Here’s the list:
Words that best describe “my ceremony” (cross out anything that doesn’t apply for you)
Personalized memorial folder
Visitation with the body present
Life tribute video
Reading my favorite scripture or poem:
Personal keepsake to be given out (recipe card, seed packet, peppermint stick, etc.)
Transport me “back home”
Tree/shrub planted in a significant place
My favorite minister:
Celebration of my life
Ritual of my social group (Elks, Eastern Star, etc.)
Headstone/monument at my grave
Limousine(s) for my family
Big church funeral
I don’t want anybody to see me dead
Gathering with food (including my favorites)
Divide me into several keepsake urns for family/close friends
Family/friends physically participate in burial
No formal service for me
Memorial contributions to:
My favorite flowers
Photographs and/or videos
Catered dinner at:
Pretty interesting list, huh? Did you find some things you definitely do not want? Were you surprised by some ideas that you definitely do want?
Can you drill down the list of things you liked to 2 or 3 that would be “musts” for you?
Dr. Hoy then asked us to share our preferences with the person next to us. I got to share with Neil (I won’t tell you what he wanted) about the service I want and how I want the books in my library given to those attending my service. I love the idea that these books could go home with people that I have loved and a connection between us could be kept in a simple, and meaningful few hundred pages. This ceremony brings me great comfort and just feels very “me.” It’s what I want.
So, I invite you to print this list (What I Want) and put some real thought into what you do and don’t want as parts of your ceremony. Maybe print several copies and ask others to join you in the exercise. Learn about each other and see with a new perspective the beautiful varieties of people around you and how they want to be celebrated.