Planning funeral is your final gift

The question is just as clear in my mind today as it was all those years ago, when my almost four-year-old daughter asked: “Where do people go when they die?”
I gave what I thought was a simple answer, “Heaven.”
In response, my daughter spoke in no uncertain terms, saying, “Well, I don’t want to go there!”
Taken aback, I asked why?
Once again she answered emphatically, “I’ve been there, and I don’t like it!”
Trying to understand, I asked her what Heaven was like and why didn’t she want to go there.
She began describing cemeteries. And, at four years old, she was sure she didn’t want to be cooped up there after she died.
Interestingly enough, now as an adult, she feels the same way. She doesn’t want to lie in a cemetery. She wants to be free! She wants her ashes sprinkled in the wind.
I, on the other hand, am more like my mother than my daughter.
My mother had one very strong request for her funeral. She said, “I want TO BE THERE!”
We honoured that request and had an open casket. Then her body was flown to Syracuse, N.Y. so she could lie beside the love of her life–Nick.
I wouldn’t mind not being at my own funeral, but I’d like to be buried in a cemetery next to my husband. But that probably won’t be possible. My husband wants part of his ashes sprinkled at “Snider’s Acres” and the rest put in our church columbarium.
The odd thing about my husband’s choice is that my daughter’s dislike of “Heaven” happened because everywhere we travelled, we visited cemeteries. As a sociologist, he was fascinated by the peoples of the area.
But what about our family history? How will it be documented for future generations?
My grandparents and great-grandparents are buried in northern New York. My only sibling and I both have moved to the middle of the country.
In years to come, how will anyone know we have ever lived here if we have no tombstones? Still, my husband feels that cremation is the responsible choice in the 21st century.
Obviously, we have some planning to do.
Actually, we have lots of planning to do. Who will be the funeral director? Who will be the minister? Who will deliver the eulogy?
My husband has written his obituary. But I haven’t.
The trigger for this column was my attendance at my good friend Esther Bartel’s funeral last week. I’ve known Esther for a very long time. I attended her husband’s funeral 30 years ago and after that her mother’s funeral.
We worked at the same place for more than 20 years. And after retirement, we had a breakfast group of work friends.
It was a very well-planned funeral. As usual, Esther knew what she wanted and had planned the event in detail some time ago.
It relieved the pressure on her family, and our pastor, Susan, mentioned in the meditation how much she appreciated Esther’s advance planning.
How about your funeral plans? Have you written your obituary or at least a brief biography? What about the music?
Where do you want to be buried? Or do you want to be cremated?
Why not start planning today—as a final gift to your family.
Write Marie Snider at