Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, precedes the yearly celebration on November 1 of All Hallows’ (or Saints’) Day. Appropriately, Create a Great Funeral Day (CAGFD) falls on October 30, the day before Halloween.
Unfortunately, maybe 25-30% of adults do any end-of-life planning – wills, funerals or advance medical directives. It’s a recipe for emotional and financial disaster.
Long before Death Cafes and Death Over Dinner events swept the nation, Chase’s Calendar of Events listed Create a Great Funeral Day for 15 years. It provides an opportunity to reduce stress on top of grief, minimize family conflict, save money and create a meaningful, memorable “good goodbye.”
The first Create a Great Funeral Day, started by attorney and mediator Stephanie West Allen, author of Creating Your Own Funeral or Memorial Service: A Workbook. took place in 2000. Over the years, her view of funeral planning has changed.
“One of the things that’s happened over the fifteen years since I wrote the book is that I understand how much more of a group effort [funeral planning] is. When I first wrote it I had a sense that it was a fairly autonomous, solo activity,” she explained.
The idea behind Create a Great Funeral Day is to think about how you would like to be remembered and to let others you love know how you’d like your life celebrated. The family’s experience of funerals is so much better when a loved one expresses their desires and values before dying.
“The people who are left behind are so grateful to have this already done,” said Allen. “And planning your funeral in advance, regardless of your age or state of health, is a good way to think about ‘What is my legacy thus far and how am I going to change, improve, or affirm it as I move forward?’”
Her father died in 2014. Regarding funeral plans, her father said, “I don’t care what you decide to do.” (Her mother, who died first, had said that she didn’t want anything.) After his death, Allen and her sister were left to negotiate ways to mesh their very different styles of decision-making about their dad’s funeral plans.
Stating some sort of plan is better than no plan at all. Allen suggests spending time on October 30 considering the many ways a memorial service can celebrate each individual’s unique life.
Ask yourself what are the purposes and goals for your service – each person will answer that question in his or her own way – and then make some plans or suggestions so your service matches that vision.
One tip to start the process: write down your “Never Again” stories. These are stories about things you have done that you would never do again and what you learned from the experiences. Doing so helps you to see what is most important to you, and thus recall or recognize the values you might like to see reflected in your end-of-life event.
“Never Again” stories highlight cherished values and reinforce the lesson learned after going astray from those values. It’s one way we can reinforce the legacy we want to leave our loved ones.
Download a news op-ed column that you can personalize for your own market about Create a Great Funeral Day: http://AGoodGoodbye.com/op-ed/
Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®, brings a light touch to serious subjects as a speaker who uses humor and funny films to attract people to discuss mortality, end-of-life, estate and funeral planning issues. She is Certified in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement by the Association for Death Education and Counseling. A pioneering Death Café hostess, she is author of the award-winning book and host of the TV and radio shows A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die. Gail is an ongoing contributor to the AAEPA blog. Her website is http://agoodgoodbye.com/
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