I am approaching sixty, not old by today's standards but an age where it has got me thinking towards my future. Or more truthfully - no more future. I know as over 50’s we are encouraged to “live life to the full, try new experiences and keep ourselves fit” in ways my grandparents would never have been.
I hear of family and friends who go unexpectedly and those left behind not knowing what the deceased person wanted. Nothing worse than burying a loved one to find paperwork later on saying they wanted to be cremated. I know people who have taken it further and paid for their funeral already. I know DD1's in laws have done this, and they have also written what they would like done, which venues to use and which hymns they want playing.
As a family that has various members that work for the NHS all of us appreciate the trauma that not only death can bring to a family but also families visiting relatives who are in a coma. We have and we are all aware of each other’s feelings. We have also discussed our views on organ donation, again saving the remaining family having the discussions and debates over whether to or not. I would not like to think my lack of forward planning would cause my family to fall apart at a time they should all be pulling together and remembering the good times, the daft times, the fun and laughter, rather than sitting alone raging at each other. As a parent we all want to protect our children, as they grow the protection goal posts move, but it does not matter how old they get they are still your children and forward planning is my way of protecting them for the very last time.
I have now extended that protection to include the grandchildren. The older two, one 15 and one 12, have both been to funerals. They are learning funerals are a sign of respect, are sad places to be, but they can have lighter moments. They are learning to talk about the people who have gone from their lives and that they can remember them with happy tears.
But does the deceased have to have a funeral as such? I know various people who feel they just want to be cremated with no service, no cars, no mourners and no funeral tea. Is this cruel giving the family no date to work towards, no way to say goodbye, nothing to distract them in their time of grief or is it being kind?
I will leave you with a laugh, my family know my wish for me to be cremated, can’t stand the idea of the beasties and bugs making a meal of me, and as I disappear through the curtains at the end of my humanist service the music I am going out to will be “The wonderful thing about Tigger” . Then they can all go off to a local ‘Spoons and have burger and chips making sure they take with them the items I have lovingly hand made for them to help them talk about the happy memories hopefully they have of me.
This is a collaborative post.