By Melanie Ayotte, Boomerang Staff Writer
The couple had everything in place that the experts say should be done: The medical power of attorney, end-of-life instructions, their wills and instructions on whether to be cremated or buried and where, and more. What they hadn't discussed was what would actually happen at the funeral or memorial itself.
Last winter, Bob, a very dear friend, passed away at his winter home. His wife telephoned my husband Steve and asked if he would be part of the memorial service. She described what she would like Steve to do at the service. After hanging up, Steve told me that the Bob he knew never would have wanted what she was asking for. While Bob and my husband had talked about Bob's funeral and what he wanted on several occasions, Bob unfortunately had failed to convey his wishes to his wife.
Funerals are a time-honored part of the grieving process, but increasingly, folks are using funerals to celebrate their loved one's life as much or more than marking his passing. Have you ever left a service and said to someone, "Please don't do that at my funeral"? Or maybe you've attended a service that seemed so perfectly tailored to the deceased's personality and said, "That's the kind of funeral I want." Until recently, a "personalized" funeral meant you picked your pall-bearers and asked for donations instead of flowers. Today, funerals often are very personal affairs that reflect the uniqueness of the individual.
Here are a few ways boomers are personalizing their funerals to allow friends not only to mourn their passing, but also to share their life and loves one last time:
- Creating a playlist of their favorite songs to be played during visitations and even the service;
- Asking attendees to wear their favorite team's colors;
- Holding their memorials at favorite venues, parks or restaurants;
- Turning their memorials into fund-raising events for their favorite charities;
- Going green and choosing natural wood or cardboard caskets, or natural material urns;
- Building their own caskets from do-it-yourself kits; and
- Personalizing their caskets or urns with sports logos, paintings, photo collages, poems and more.
Making your final farewell wishes known in advance means that your friends and family will be able to focus on their memories of you instead of on details of your service. Be sure to include a funeral home in your plans to make sure that they are willing and able to honor your preferences and that your plans conform with state and local laws. Once you have a plan, write your instructions down. Then, review them every few years to make sure they are still in line with your personality.
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