Is it morbid to plan your own funeral?

And why do they have wedding planners but not funeral planners?

 

I just attended a lovely funeral. This being my first Chinese-American funeral, I had quite a bit of time during the Cantonese language portion of the program to think about how intensely personal, yet universal funerals are.

It was hard not to see the similarities, as they far outweighed the differences. Except for a pastor speaking first in Cantonese, then in English, the format and sentiments expressed were pretty much what I anticipated. No one wailed openly. Most guests seemed more somber than grieving.

We heard psalms. We watched a video. This was, in all senses, a celebration of life. And even though I'd never met this woman, I came away feeling how incredible - and incredibly loved - she was.

I may live to 78 like Virginia Yee. Or I may drop dead tomorrow. Whenever it happens, I want my 55 minutes of funeral fame ... and I'm thinking it's best not to leave that to chance.

Flower Power

Now this is subtle!
Now this is subtle!
Ix-nay on the Om-May
Ix-nay on the Om-May
Points for color, texture and originality
Points for color, texture and originality

Who is it for -- the deceased, or the living?

This is a serious question. You might ask, "What do you care about your own funeral? You won't be there anyway." That raises philosophical and theological issues I don't want to get into here. I do want to talk about the funeral as social event. In that context funerals are not very different from christenings, confirmations, or weddings.

Your funeral is the last, great party you will ever have thrown in your honor. My feeling: as you were in life, so should you be in death.

You can't control who will attend your funeral (by this point it's too late to do much about your popularity, sorry). But you can control their experience. If you're so inclined, you can plot (no pun intended there) it down to the fine details. Do you prefer a religious rite or a secular celebration? Are there ethnic customs or family traditions you wish or need to honor? Where will the funeral itself be held - church, hall, funeral home, outdoors in a meadow? Will there be a procession to a cemetery? Open casket, closed casket, no casket? What music will be played? What readings represent your values? Do you have a preference for flower types or colors? How about donations in your memory -- do people know your favorite charity?

Will pall bear for pints

Irish wakes and funerals are like every day -- but wilder
Irish wakes and funerals are like every day -- but wilder

Plan now or plan later

Planning can pay off

These kinds of questions can easily be answered ahead of time. By writing your desires down, you'll take the guesswork out of it. You'll actually be doing your loved ones a favor. They'll know absolutely what to do and what not to do. And they'll have fewer decisions to make under pressure. There will still be plenty to do just adhering to your last wishes.

If you are so inclined, you can even comparison shop. I have not done this myself, but I'm willing to bet you can pre-order your own casket. I know for me, I don't want anyone's guilt putting me in a Cadillac. I'd like something tasteful yet understated; individual, but not too flashy, please.

And why shouldn't you check out different funeral homes the same way you'd research any other event facility? Me, I'll go with the best combination of non-creepy ambiance and package price.

Just a simple casket

Thanks, for the thought, but I'm no angel... yet:-)
Thanks, for the thought, but I'm no angel... yet:-)

Make your final day memorable

What will guests remember about your funeral - besides that you missed it?

When my mom died, she left a notebook with some surprising findings. Not only did she select specific hymns, she identified the organist and the singer. Having worked for years at her church, she was quite familiar with funeral protocol and options. She knew there is a league of church women who bring food to the deceased's home. They coordinate with the family in terms of menu, tablescapes, etc. Well God bless my mom. Her funeral notebook went so far as to request "sweet and sour meatballs." And she was right. They were delicious!

My dad tells the story of my uncle, a WWII sailor. His last request was to have "Anchors Aweigh" played as his casket left the church. Now, I don't know if he was joking, but I do know his wife said, "No way!" On the other end of this spectrum is my friend who died suddenly at 51. His Yellow Submarine-themed tribute was exactly what he would have wanted.

The Last Supper

Hey you ghosts, leave some meatballs for the guests!
Hey you ghosts, leave some meatballs for the guests!

Bagpiper in Paradise

Peter Piper played my wedding. Why not my funeral, too?
Peter Piper played my wedding. Why not my funeral, too?

Send me off happy, ok?

Am I a great connoisseur of funerals? Hardly. Knock on wood (not a casket, tho - I'm sure that's a funeral home no-no), I can still count on two hands the ones I've attended.

But, being a writer and an observer of humanity, I have been taking copious mental notes. I intend to borrow bits and pieces from Irish, Greek, California, New York and recovery traditions. Ideally, I'd like TWO funerals - one in a church and and one casual. That should pretty much satisfy everyone:-).

One of these days, I'm going to write my thoughts down so there's no ambiguity about my wishes.

I'll start here with MM's top 12 songs I want played at my funeral(s):

  1. Beware of Darkness (George Harrison) -- but it has to be the live version from Concert for Bangladesh with Leon Russell
  2. In My Life (Beatles) -- Love that harpsichord!
  3. Your Song (Elton John) -- Been my fave since high school
  4. Black (Pearl Jam) -- Time to be a star in my own sky
  5. Spirit in the Sky (Norman Greenbaum's one and only hit)
  6. Life by the Drop (Stevie Ray Vaughn) -- Stevie got it!
  7. God Loves a Drunk (Richard Thompson asks, "Will there be any bartenders up there in heaven?")
  8. Angel - Sarah McLachlan (I hope to be up there with the "real" angels and all those dogs and cats Sarah advocates for)
  9. Come Down (Bush) -- Damn straight! Once I get up there in the clouds, no way I want to come back down!
  10. Amazing Grace -- It wouldn't be a funeral without her
  11. Ave Maria - Always, always, always makes me cry
  12. Give Peace a Chance (John Lennon) -- or if I die around the holidays, Happy Christmas/War is Over

Honorable mention that didn't quite make the cut:

Get this Party Started (Pink)

Goin' up to the spirit in the sky, that's where I'm gonna go...
Goin' up to the spirit in the sky, that's where I'm gonna go...

The Best Happily Ever Afterlife Song Ever

Are You Morbid or Practical

Will you plan your own funeral?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe some elements
  • I don't plan to die so it's a moot point
See results without voting

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Comments 69 comments

Em Writes profile image

Em Writes 7 years ago from Upstate NY

Great hub, MM. Wish I could have such a pragmatic outlook on the subject of death, but I. Just. Can't. Terrifies me. Fortunately, "I don't plan to die so it's a moot point."


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

I actually vacillate on my outlook on death. Some days I feel like, "Ok, God, bring it." But I suspect if I were to be diagnosed with 6 months to live I would feel quite differently. The whole pageantry of funerals and the behind-the-scenes work I am quite familiar with, tho. My husband and I live at the ready for my dad or his dad to go any time. So I guess when it's sort of omnipresent in your life, you think differently.

Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Ms. Em!


NYLady 7 years ago

MM: Absolutely LOVED this hub. Hilarious. My husband kept asking me, "what are you laughing at?' So I finally said, "someday you'll understand."

One of my favorite memories ever: Walking home to my hotel at 4 in the morning in New Orleans years ago and hearing a lone saxophonist playing "Amazing Grace" in an alley somewhere. And hearing the choir sing "Ave Maria" a number of years later at my Dad's funeral. Great hub and a wonderful idea.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

LOL. Glad you found it so amusing, NYLady! New Orleans style -- that's what I'm aiming for in tone for my send-off. Forgot to include writing your own obituary. Wouldn't you expect writers would insist on that:-)??


pgrundy 7 years ago

Great hub! Love the 'Spirit in the Sky' clip. What a great funeral song.

In my rather limited experience with dead people, I've found that hardly anybody listens to them. All of my dead relatives did not get what they wanted at their funerals, even though each was promised all sorts of things while alive. This tells me one thing: You can't trust the living. They just do what they wanna do, the end.

So I leave it to my loved ones left behind. If there are any. I'd be happy just to be tree food, but if they want to stuff me and my cat too and keep me on the sofa for all eternity, that's fine. Whatever soothes them until we can all be together.

Great hub!


Chef Jeff profile image

Chef Jeff 7 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

Already got it planned, from the N. O. Jazz band to the video to be played.

I don't fear death, I just don't want to become closely acquainted for some time!

Cheers!

Chef Jeff


Em Writes profile image

Em Writes 7 years ago from Upstate NY

It isn't actually my own death that terrifies me - I haven't really gotten to the point that I contemplate it much. I've still got both of my parents and one grandparent - they're the ones that I worry about. Just thinking about suddenly losing any one of them puts me into a near panic attack state.

We lost both my husband's mom and grandmother in the last year, and I surprised myself with how well I dealt with that, but with both we knew it was coming.

Anyway, don't mean to be the buzz kill. This really was a great hub!


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Thanks, all, for stopping by my hub. Pam, LOL. "can't trust the living" indeed. If you really want to be stuffed along with your cat, you don't think they'd honor that? I know one thing. My husband will toss my laptop into the casket with me!

Chef Jeff, mind sharing that video? I'd like to get some pointers!

Em -- no buzzkill at all. Death IS scary. It's hard not to future trip about it. I have to force myself to enjoy my dad as he is today (85 and frail). There's no reason to freak out of be sad. I just want to make sure HIS wishes are honored!


Carol Corbett 7 years ago

I'd like to recommend a book to you. "When the Sun Goes Down: Planning the Funeral of Your Life" just came out in July and focusses on exactly what you're talking about here...accepting the end and planning one heck of a party as a send-off. The author is bubbly and funny, she was just on the Loren & Wally show in Mass a few weeks ago, and weaves hilarious epitaphs and anecdotes throughout the book. She's actually having a raffle for a casket bookcase! Seriously, a bookcase that you can actually be buried in.... there is a company, CasketFurniture.com, that makes all kinds of useful before the final use casket items.... Anyway, I thought you'd appreciate and relate. Great post!


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hey, thanks, Carol. Looks like Amazon.com agrees with your recommendation, as they selected "When the Sun Goes Down..." to promote on my hub. I'm not sure I'm into before-the-final-use caskets, but throwing yourself one blowout of a party -- always open to new ideas in that arena.

BTW, welcome to my hub! Good to meet new hubbers!!!


Melissa G profile image

Melissa G 7 years ago from Tempe, AZ

Very interesting hub, Mighty Mom! This is something I've given a pretty good amount of thought to, especially after watching Six Feet Under, because it seems like while your family is going through the grieving process, the last thing they should need to worry about is what type of finish you'd like on your casket.

I also hope that my funeral is a celebration of my life, full of music and dancing and high spirits (maybe I should book a comedian?), rather than some sad and somber affair. I haven't written my plans down anywhere, which may put a damper on things if I die suddenly tomorrow, but hopefully I'll have a chance to jot down a few notes before the grim reaper escorts me away. :)


Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 7 years ago from Burlingame, CA

My wife has a friend that is considering starting a funeral planning business. Her idea is to provide a high end funeral planning service. Just like a wedding planner, but for funerals.

I'll definitely plan my own. Right down to the food.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 7 years ago from London UK

Planning anything including funerals is always a good thing (including food!)as if you have not planned and the worse does happen! at least the family will not worry about what to do or play for the funeral and if it would have been appropriate, and i like your choice of Get this Party Started by Pink! lol.

(Ive been told i need to be more positive in life soo, If i die :D) id be happy if i was to be placed in a hole, in my Birthday suit, with no head stone or anything! though i doubt close ones would want to oblige!

PS. Long live M&M:)


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 7 years ago from Northern California

Thanks for this Hub. I don't think it's morbid, I think it's kind of considerate, so the people you leave don't have to worry about planning it how you would like it. And it's going to happen eventually.


funnebone profile image

funnebone 7 years ago from Philadelphia Pa

Ok, it was a little morbid but no stranger than me planning my wifes funeral and I am not even married. I guess the high rate of divorce has my thinking out of step!


Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 7 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

What I would like is just a big party, scatter my ashes where you like...


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Uninvited Writer -- sounds all fine and dandy. As long as your near and dear ones are clear that there will be ashes to scatter and not a big old hole in the ground to be filled. Also -- you're leaving the party up to them to plan. See, that's where I just can't seem to let go of control. The thought of someone like my sister imposing her taste (she actually has excellent taste, but it's not mine) makes me crazy! Thanks for commenting. And funnebone -- you seem to have similar taste to mine so please feel free to jump in on planning MY funeral. If you feel so inclined, I'll reciprocate!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

MM, this is a great Hub. I read it about an hour ago, then came back to read it again. Your last comment, above, really gave me reason to pause.

I am a control freak, although not a micro-manager. Ask anybody who knows me well. I'm thinking that I will start writing out my wishes for my last party in sort of well, general sketches, and then leave it up to whoever's left to fill in the details. I don't want anyone to feel left out of the planning, and the truth of it is, I'm not an event planner. In fact, I HATE planning events. So, for example, let the music be 60s folk songs, 70s soft rock, and Yo-Yo Ma; no bible readings, please, unless you really can't help yourself; for food, go through my food Hubs, 'cause y'all love that stuff...well, you get the idea.

As for the eulogy, my Uncle Chet is the official eulogizer for everyone's funerals (and there have been a lot of them), so I think I'll just give him talking points that he can elaborate on. In fact, I might ask him to do it now and record it, since statistically he will go before I do. What a hoot! I think he'll love the idea.

I love reading a work that captures my imagination, and yours certainly did just that.

Thumbs up!


somelikeitscott profile image

somelikeitscott 7 years ago from Las Vegas

Great HUB! I think this is a great idea. As a complete control freak in life, of course I not only want my input considered but more to the point I want my own way in the afterlife as well! Years ago I was telling a friend of mine that I wanted a bouncer at my funeral, I want all the people who were mean to me who come for forgiveness when it's too late to be turned away at the door, oh they'll be on a "list" but not the right one. My friend immediately asked if she could be the bouncer and then quickly followed it up with..."I mean, I'm not on the list that isn't allowed in...am I?" Great hub, thanks for the smile!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California

This is a great hub.  And I'm with you, I think planning ahead is a good idea all the way around.  Frankly, I think about it, but have never done it.  I do want it to be a fun event.  I get that my wife and kids would be sad, but I don't want it to be a big depression fest any more than I want it to be a complicated chore.  I'd rather there be an open bar and bug bunny cartoons or something and not much for anyone to do except show up.

Frankly, I have a harder time with the concept of life insurance than I do with planning a funeral.  I mean, you KNOW you're going to die, so planning a funeral is completely logical.  Life insurance on the other has you actually betting on your own death.  I mean, who approaches life thinking, "Welp, I am pretty damn sure I'm going to die prematurely, probably soon, so, gonna bet big on this one."  Not only a bet, but keep betting, every month.  It's like, a new month rolls around and we're like, "Oh, damn, I didn't die yet.  Wow, the odds are really high then since I didn't go last month."  Drives me nuts.  Bad karma if you asked me.

Anyway, I rambled there, but this hub got me thinking.  Nice work, bet this hub does well on search engines in the future too.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

I'm so glad I've held off on writing my funeral plan. Now I've got great new ideas. Sally's Trove, I will have to check out your food hubs -- I bet you have some crowd pleasers. Pre-recorded eulogies. Another marketable idea. Of course, I am the official eulogizer (being the resident penstress in the family). Do I get to do my own? Hmmm. Scott -- LOVE the bouncer idea. Somehow, I bet the line of bouncees will be longer than the admittees LOL.

Shadesbreath, thanks for the vote of confidence. It sure would be a miracle/nice coincidence to actually write something that the search engines pick up. And you've also given me an idea for a related hub: Why do I keep putting off getting life insurance? Probably so I can use that money for my funeral party!


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA

After my mother passed away in August, without leaving any idea of what she wanted, my siblings and I were forced to guess...which isn't a lot of fun. We all agreed that perhaps it would be best to make some plans in advance...or at the very least inform a loved one of our wishes. So I'm all for the planning!

I've always wanted to make one of those "if you are watching this...I must be dead" sort of videos to play at my funeral. It's creepy, morbid and kinda cool too.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

@Shade, if you don't mind, MM, I had some trouble too with the concept of life insurance. 

However, why not look into a life insurance annuity plan?  All payments get invested, less the administrative fees and the cost of insurance, and at some point, given that you started the policy early enough in your life, your insurance will be paid up before you die.  Also, you can borrow from it, no questions asked, and cash in on it, too.   So long as your insurance company is solvent, or sells its policies to someone who is, there's no problem with your investment.  I don't know the percentage of return over the long-haul, I'll have to work that out, but the investment is secure.  I've borrowed on it in the past, for a ridiculously low interest rate and easy terms.  It's not term life, and it makes sense to start your kids early on a plan like this.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Creepy, morbid and kinda cool = planning your own funeral video. Right on, Spryte!

Creepy, morbid and wading through policy details to "place your bet" (@Shade) against your own death = this is too adult for me to handle. But I will give it some thought. Thanks, ST.

At the very least, all hubbers could post their own wishes on a hub with instructions to fellow hubbers in case of emergency:-)


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

I will admit that a few years ago I would have said no way! But when my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I changed my mind. He was determined that my sisters who can be very domineering would not override anything my mother said. He was going to have a funeral that represented him and his life and not my sisters' ideas. They fussed and argued when the day came but afterwards EVERYONE commented on how beautiful that service was and true memorial to his life. Planning ahead also helped my dear mother so that she would not have to be thinking of small things while in the midst of her grief.

She has her own funeral already planned and in the hands of the funeral director. Her orders are that if we don't follow it to the letter she will come back to haunt us.

I will make one note on the flowers. My parents are very determined that NO flowers will be allowed at the funeral except for the collection on the casket. Their thoughts were if you don't give them to me living when I can enjoy them, please save your money. Instead they requested that all money that would have been spent on flowers that are dead in a few days anyway should be given to charities dear to the person's heart. The effects would then far outlive the memory of the person. The family didn't like it at first, but I have to say that it was so beautiful and pure looking to not have all those flowers taking up the room. Even the people attending the funeral were saying that they were going to have theirs that way. Simple can be beautiful.

Great piece.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hi RGraf, I see from your avatar flowers are a big part of your life. Your story about your dad pre-empting your sisters' planning is perfect! I worry about my siblings taking sides against me when my dad goes.

Love the "no flowers" idea -- quite amazed that people would actually honor that. So true that the flowers will only last a few days, but a charitable donation will last much longer! I always thought people would kinda do 'both' when the obit says, "donations may be made to xyz charity." I like this idea! Simple CAN be beautiful.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

They fixed it where flowers would not arrived uninvited by contacting the flower shops personally and putting the request. They told the florist that the flowers would be turned away. They all honored it and informed anyone who tried to order what the family wishes were. We had no problems. My father was a devout Christian so many gave donations for Gideon Bibles- we were told that over 500 were made available with all the donations. He died of cancer - thousands was given to the American Cancer Society. Hospice was such a major factor in the final days that as much as given to the local branch. Much will be accomplished all because of self-less act even in death.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

It really sounds like your Dad had a beautiful transition to the hereafter. That's the way I would like to go and to be remembered. Thank you for sharing that -- what you said would really make a good hub, too! Peace!


lori763 profile image

lori763 7 years ago from SWFL

Hi MM et al

It is interesting to read how people react to this subject. I agree that it is important to plan ahead because it frees those who are left behind from having to deal with that too. I also believe this to be true about life insurance. Having it is just plain considerate. I do not want anyone to have to pick up the burden of my final expenses or bear financial hardship because of the loss of my income (e.g. daughter in school etc.) It's a final gift to give to the ones you love so they will be able to continue their lives in way that is somewhat similar to what it would have been had you continued to live. For some families, the loss of a loved one creates financial ruin and life style changes on top of the grief. Life insurance is a great way to spare families from this additional burden.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hi Lori, Thanks for commenting. I agree about leaving your affairs in the best order possible. I am organizationally challenged in life. Hopefully I will get my act together well in advance of needing all the i's dotted and t's crossed on my finances. Meantime, if anyone in my family reads HubPages, they will at least know the songs I want played at my funeral. And for a former dj -- what's the most important thing, eh!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 7 years ago

Hi Mighty Mom,

This is something I fight with.  I don't like the idea of being underground with all the creepy crawlies, even though I wouldn't be aware of that lol.  Not to mention, I believe life gets very busy and I doubt I would have many visitors in a cemetary.  I'm leaning more towards cremation, but even that scares me.  Silly, huh? since I'll be dead anyway, but it does.  What I do like about it is I'd want my ashes split three ways, 1/3 to my son, 1/3 to my daughter and the rest scattered either in a bookstore (not likely) or some fleamarket lol.  My late hubby was cremated and both children have him and we scattered some of his ashes out in the ocean, as his hobby was his boat and fishing.  It was a lovely ceremony and we had probably 30 or so family members who came along.  I know in my heart that made my hubby happy.

Thanks for sharing.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hi Trish, I totally agree with you. Life does get busy and visiting a cemetary gets more and more difficult (I believe our lives have changed irrevocably with the advent of cars and other modern conveniences). Cremation seems to be much more popular, especially with younger people -- although both my parents were cremated.

And yes, cremation does give more flexibility to the family. Your story of your late hubby's ashes being scattered in the ocean is lovely. Now, whenever you visit the ocean, you will be with him! My Hubby's sister's ashes are at Portuguese Beach in CA. I was introduced to this beach by his family and found it so compelling that Hubby and I chose to be married there. Now we have 2 good reasons to keep going back to visit!!

I do hope you have lots and lots of time before you have to think seriously about splitting your ashes 3 ways! You're too valuable here as an inspiring hubber!! Thanks for visiting. MM


Funeral Readings Guru 7 years ago

Very controversial topic, but also very interesting article.


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV.

It's legal to bury people in your backyard in Vegas (as long as you tell someone about it first). Of course, these days some of the backyards are barely big enough.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

That is a trip about being able to bury people legally in your backyard (but not, I assume, in the front yard:-). Nevada sure is a much more liberal state in some ways than California. Legalized gambling, prostitution, smoking indoors -- and now backyard burying! Who knew?


carolegalassi profile image

carolegalassi 7 years ago from California

The Spirit in the Sky is one of my favorite songs. The words are powerful and provide alot of meaning. I think if you are able people should have a say and plan their own funeral. Often the bereaved family's decisions are based on the loved one's wishes.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hi Caraolegalassi, Thanks for seconding my choice in songs. That song is just fabulous -- no wonder he never did another, as it could not top Spirit in the Sky!

So many people fear thinking about or planning for their own mortality. It's silly. Death is inevitable. Might as well give your loved ones a clue as to what you want! Thanks for visiting. MM


elisabethkcmo profile image

elisabethkcmo 7 years ago from Just East of Oz

MM--Thanks for covering an important subject. When my husband passed away 3 years ago, all the funeral plans were up to me. It's so hard to make any decisions at that time, simply overwhelming.

I plan to write my funeral wishes as well, don't want my daughter to deal with all that.

ps It's great that I came across this, I'm doing some research right now for a hub on green funerals..

love love your hubs


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hi Elisabeth! So sorry to hear about your husband. I didn't realize you were a widow.

I will look forward to seeing your hub on green funerals! It's an interesting new trend!


Funeral Readings  7 years ago

Very nice article on really fascinating topic. I've really enjoyed it.


mearsuk 6 years ago

I know that this is an old topic but I just came across it! I don't think it is morbid. In fact, I have so many ideas that it makes me want to have the party early so I can be there! And if I live longer than 4 years afterwards - have another - just cremate me when I'm gone!


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

OMG, Mearsuk. I absolutely agree with you. I love that idea and especially doing it more than once. How about a decade by decade death party? If you live to be 60 you have a funeral for yourself. 70? Yep, another one. 80? Third time's the charm. I wonder if the concept for the parties would change as we age.

This truly is a great idea. I think YOU should write it up as a hub!!


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

To answer a question you have already answered, NO it is absolutely NOT morbid to plan your own funeral. It is a kindness to those you leave behind. My dad died suddenly and not only did my mom have to manage her shock at losing a young husband but she had to make all the arrangements with as much lucidity as possible. She was so overwhelmed that years later she planned her entire affair. She still lives but we kids know exactly what she wants and know we will be able to manage it, as she also paid for the entire thing.

Now I am making arrangements for my father in law's funeral, as he is on hospice care. The rest of the family has to pick up other ends left untied, like Power of Attorney and Insurance benefits and Selling the House and so I am the lucky one planning this as you so aptly phrase it "biggest and last celebration" for him. It is a big responsibility. Which is why I found your hub. I am looking for any suggestions before I begin. Thanks!!!


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hi Storytellersrus, I'm so sorry to hear about your father-in-law. Been there with hospice. It's a blessing to have that support, but still hard.

I'll share from my own experience what the main responsibilities and decisions are.

1. The obituary. This is something you can actually get done before your FIL's death. Or, use that immediate post-death adrenaline to write it. One thing to bear in mind (and it may be different where you live) is that obits are not FREE. So realize it will cost money to run. The funeral home can assist with this.

In fact, even if you are doing a cremation, it is important to go through a funeral parlor/mortuary as they can get you needed death certificates.

2. Re: the funeral/celebration of life. If your FIL is religious and affiliated with a church, make an appt to talk to the pastor. S/he will give you a lot of guidance in terms of preferred days of the week, fees, preferred vendors (organists, soloists, etc.)

3. My husband put together a beautiful slide show for his dad's funeral. We didn't do that for my dad, but did have a bagpiper. So something a little personal is nice.

4. Figure out who is going to do the readings -- for my dad we had all the grandkids read.

5.Figure out who is going to give the eulogy.

6. Will you open the mike up to audience members to come up and speak? It can be very nice.

7. The "after the service party" can be as simple or elaborate as you want. Check with the church and see if they have a volunteer service that will do the catering for a donation.

You can do something as simple as cake and coffee in the room next to the church.

Or you can invite peopleback to your home or to a restaurant. I've seen it done both ways.

For my mother, dad and father-in-law we had the receptions back at the family home. Each one was a little different, but the important thing is it gives people an opportunity to come and pay their respects and have a drink, etc.

Key things I learned:

1. Everyone gets paid. The priest, the church, the organist, the soloist and the bagpiper (at my Dad's).

2. If you don't know what readings or songs your FIL would prefer, use your best judgment and go with what YOU like.

3. The more personal you can make the service the better.

Remember,this is a TRIBUTE to your FIL. Whatever his personality is,try to carry out in the service.

4.You are already dividing and conquering on the tasks required for your FIL. I have found this a good strategy with the tasks related to the funeral service also. Don't try to do it all, enlist help on some parts (if possible).

There's plenty of work to go around.

I wish you all the best. Your father-in-law is very lucky have you. And your mother is very wise and very generous to have her own funeral all planned!

Good luck with everything. Feel free to contact me here or offline if you want to chat further. MM


HollywoodRasta profile image

HollywoodRasta 6 years ago from Hollywood

So true!

I had not seen my mother in several years. But I just payed her a visit a couple of months ago and she had me take her headshot pictures for when she passes. It was a little awkward. Here I was taking pictures of my mother to display at her funeral when she passes.

Better be prepared, be smart and plan ahead for your the sake of your loved ones. Make it easy on them...plan your own funeral.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hi HR, That does sound a little awkward,but glad your mom is being prepared. I've come to believe that is the best way! Cheers and thanks for visiting. MM


The Aud1 6 years ago from UK

Loved this hub. I think death and funerals should be talked about more - why all this association with morbidity. Fact of life - we are all going to die some day. I would definitely like input into my funeral. No casket - waste of money - just a cardboard biodegradeable box. As I pass through the curtain for cremation I'd like Van Morrison playing "Baby, please don't go". At least it'd get them laughing. Do think it is nice to have a grave to visit (somewhere to put your roots down:). Could go on and on but I'll stop .... and start plannning.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hello The Aud1,

Glad this got your into planning mode. Please DO go on and on -- write your funeral itinerary as a Hub and link to mine! I would love that. Van Morrison -- love that touch! You obviously have quite the sense of humor! MM


RNMSN profile image

RNMSN 6 years ago from Tucson, Az

my dads body died in just fourteen days...Sept 2009....and cause my first family/mom,dad,siblings and so on are soooooo very very dysfuctional it was not a pretty sight...

i came home and immediately did my research/found a cool website called webcure...

they will come and take your body when you die,,,that way all your loved ones/it any are left/have to do is go the bar, play pool or darts, make gross cemetary jokes, talk about the worst and (hopefully) best pool shot I ever made) call a cab anf go homr!! too cool dude!!

course you havefrom now for foreve to ealize they will do as they will to your body...good thing then to know from tfe onset

"tis ony a shell mi lady"


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

RNMSN -- Sorry to hear about the loss of your dad. It's hard not matter what, but it seems to make the dysfunctionality of family even worse.

Glad you found such a helpful website.

And congratulations on your pool shot!

You're so right. It is only a shell. I believe that because I witnessed my dad's spirit leaving his body (the shell).


Fae 6 years ago

I've been planning my funeral since I was 16-17ish. My mother told me I was morbid. I looked at her and told her, "No, I'm making the process simple, unlike you. You're screwing me over, you won't even make a will." lol I didn't mean it in a bad way in fact I was laughing as I said it. I've just always considered a funeral like your last party, and I always wondered why anyone would throw a party and it be depressing. Yeah your dead, yes that's sad, but you should help people remember the good times! Make a video and talk about the stupid, funny stuff you did with your friends, have alcohol served, ban black (its my favorite color, but it dulls down a good funeral), set it up so one of your friends hires a clown, something! Make it just scream your name, ans make sure people remember that day forever.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

HiFae!

My, you really do have your wishes set. Your family and friends are lucky since they will know exactly what you would have wanted. Be sure to write all this down, tho.

My Mom (God love her) had everything written, down to the exact hymns she wanted sung at her funeral and the meatballs she wanted at the after-party!!!

But I hope you will stick around HP for quite awhile and not have to put in play your ideas. And tell your mom she IS screwing you over if she leaves here last wishes to probate court. Shame on her!


donahu 6 years ago

just preplanned my final wishes now i cant wait to , oh wait a minute,i said final wishes, thanks for all of your great comments,its good to add a sprinkle of humor


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Ha ha! Now that they're all preplanned you'll no doubt have decades of relaxing time to enjoy life. With no stress about what's gonna happen after you go!

Thanks for visiting. MM


Stump Parrish profile image

Stump Parrish 6 years ago from Don't have a clue, I'm lost.

By all means you should plan your own funeral.

A funeral is normally for the people who remain. This needs to change in my opinion. I have arrangements to donate my carcass to a medical lab. If any of my family want some soot they can spend the $60.00 and have it shipped. I intend on attending my funeral. Unless I go in an unexplained alien abduction, I plan on throwing a little get together when time get's close. Tell me what you have to say about me to my face and plesae by all means, lie if you have to. It won't matter as I have no intentions of spreading gossip about you in the future. Ya know, most people can't figure out how to enjoy life and here we are trying to enjoy death.

I'm not a religious person but I sure would like to hear an AME choir sing a song or two at my funeral. That song by U2 would be great.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

That all sounds quite reasonable to me. The playlist is at least as important as the menu, the guest list, and the body disposal details. Sounds like you've got them all covered. Very practical.I'm impressed!


donahu 6 years ago

thanks Mighty Mom; I agree Stump about finding it difficult to enjoy life, but if it is difficult to enjoy life, why not enjoy death if it is possible if only in arranging it?


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

But I guess I would worry that if you don't enjoy life, how do you know you are going to enjoy death any more?

Oh well. If arranging your own death gives you pleasure, by all means.

I can't even arrange my life:-). But I like the CONCEPT of being prepared in case I get hit by a bus tomorrow!


donahu 6 years ago

i guess arranging your own death sounds more like suicide , making final arrangements with a professional person is what i should have said.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

That sounds much more like it. I am relieved, donahu!


Jim Bryan profile image

Jim Bryan 6 years ago from Austin, TX

Planning your funeral is absolutely appropriate. It's healthy for the intended, though others may find it strange--especially in my case.

As I'm not yet 40, I've only a rough plan for mine, I'm planning on a Tomb, I'll be encased in reinforced glass on a stone chair, dressed in stainless mail with a giant bottle of Irish whiskey (everyone in attendance gets a nip from the bottle, after which it should be placed in my lap and the glass sealed). I'm not a SCA type, but I think it will give a unique impression. I'll want the tomb to hold for a few hundred years.

For canned music, I'm thinking "Ain't nobody's business if I do" by Billie Holiday, "Walking after midnight," by Patsy Cline, "Heart of Steel" by Manowar, "St James Infirmary," by Cab Calloway, and others. For the meal, all meat must be butchered on the spot, and will be part of the ceremony (I find the symbolism rather romantic) and BBQued by the best cooks I know that still live (Listed by preference).

After the opening and slaughter, I want each person in attendance to tell the funniest story they have involving me, or do something along the lines of a roast, or tell their best (or my favorite) joke. I want an all day affair ending with a Karaoke show. I want people to sing songs, laugh, dance, and have a good time. Finally, I'm not going to be entombed in a cemetery, but at the old family farm in East Texas.

And obviously, I'll want a full bar and to hire my favorite surviving bartender.

Finally, everyone there gets a romp through my book collection, and will take a book so that everyone I know gets a "piece of my mind" as a parting gift.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Hello Jim. You have obviously given this quite a bit of thought. I must say, your ideas for your party are quite novel and I think anyone who knows you and gets an invite should feel quite honored!

Only detail I'm not entirely sure about (not knowing your friends, of course) is the nipping at the bottle of Irish whiskey. Wouldn't you worry that there would be only drops left for you -- leaving you to face a rather thirsty transition into the afterlife?

Love the butchering of the meat onsite, tho! Must be a Texas thang....


Jim Bryan profile image

Jim Bryan 6 years ago from Austin, TX

Thanks MM.

RE Whiskey: Depending on the list, I may go for a small keg of libations. It's not about how much I have left, it's that we all drink from the same bottle, the shared consumption of life.

RE Butchering of meat: Death sustains life. Again, I find the idea romantic.

I want more than a party, I want people to think, reflect, then LIVE. Along the same lines, I no longer have birthday parties, I have dethday parties. I make everyone (including my own father), dress up and put on masks or makeup each June. We all go out to celebrate and inevitably freak out the locals. The theme is "I know how many I've had, but not how many I have left." The point is to realize we will all soon be part of the Great Majority and to get off our collective arses and live. So have that drink, eat that steak, kiss that person, have that child, write, sing--do what ever it is that you love or always put off doing and keep doing it until you can't--because someday, you won't be able to--you'll never get another chance. Besides, we should all have a truly fantastic tale to tell the boatman as our journey ends--preferably of the night we die. Life is all action and memory. It's a reminder to make sure yours actions are worth remembering.

As in life, so in death, at my funeral, I want to remind people to live.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 6 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Jim,

You truly sound like a lively guy and your dethday celebrations sound -- delightful. I think you should write a HUB about them and share with us all, complete with photos!

Speaking of kegs at your non-funeral, you should check out my "Big Fat Ghetto Memorial Service" hub. Oy!


Christina_Moore 5 years ago

Having a funeral plan is not morbid what so ever. It can actually save your family a lot of grief.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

Absolutely agree with you Christina_Moore! Thanks! MM


Jack Loudoun 5 years ago

I think planing for your own funeral will bring enormous relief o f stress for the family. Don't book a comedian or something silly, you need to remember what the mood will be like on that day, but make the funeral quintessentially your own. The service is a large part of the healing process.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA Author

I so agree with you, Jack Loudon. People need that closure. It's an essential part of the healint process.

I have heard some people say some pretty funny things when making comments (even in formal eulogies).

But haven't ever seen an actual comedian.

But I imagine there is a time and place even for that.

What happens when someone like Johnny Carson or Joan Rivers dies? Surely they will have funny people at their send-off:-)!

Me, I'm all about the MUSIC.

Thanks for commenting. MM


Matheus 21 months ago

3. One when I was about 2 or 3. The other I was about 7 or 8. And the last one was a few weeks ago. It's really frknaieg weird to see a dead body that you once saw alive. Funerals are always a horrible experience for me even though I wasn't really close to the people in any of the funerals I've went to

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