This seems to be a common theme that we as funeral directors get told from families. When we first ask a family how they would want to honor their loved one and what type of service they were thinking about, we will hear: “Well daddy always said just put him in a pine box and then place him in the backyard” or “He always said just have him cremated and spread his ashes in the lake.” or something along those lines, I can assure you that we have heard them all!
First, I must say that you should check your local county ordinances before you start lining off grave lots in the back yard! Most counties would require you to set aside a piece of property that could zoned for a family cemetery. From what I understand this is not an easy process and it is not approved very often on residential land here in Cobb. But this is not to discourage you but maybe you should check with the county before renting the tractor!
But the question is; what does this statement really mean? Is this what that person really wanted or were they just avoiding the question and trying to lessen the mood and make it easier on everyone around? I believe that human nature is to feel wanted and loved and when this is said, its almost eluding to the statement that they are actually saying ” Would anyone really come to my funeral or did my life really mean that much to anyone?” As people get older and more dependent on others around them for their daily tasks, they will often feel unimportant or like they are being a burden. At this stage in many peoples life is when the talks about funerals come up and many don’t want to continue to burden their family and will just say the easiest thing for them to do to lessen the burden.
People ask me why is cremations with no services so popular now a days and this is one of the main reasons. Most people are not always able to have these conversations with their family and would usually hear somewhere in passing, “Don’t spend all that money on me, just have me cremated when it comes my time.” If that is what they really meant we will never know but I can assure you that will stick into the families mind and when something does happen then they will tell us, “He said just to have him cremated” and that is exactly what we do. So many times families will struggle with this at the arrangement table, “Is this what Dad really wanted or was he just saying this?”
There is actually an opposite effect to this, though more rare than the previous but some people will say “I want the best casket I can get, I’m going out in style!” Again, there is a burden on the family when they walk through the selection room and actually see the cost of the “best you can get” and realize that is impractical and now they wonder what they should do. Often times this can be the more difficult burden to bear and it is hard for us to explain to the families that surly their loved one did not want them to enter into a lifetime of debt in order to design a funeral service with all the glitz and glamour.
I know that we have said it before but communicating your wishes to your family is extremely important and even better yet, pre-planning your funeral takes all of the guessing out of it. Let your funeral director help you in navigating these decisions and help plan a fitting service that would be exactly what is needed. Now if you really want to be scattered out in the river or placed in the woods make sure that everyone around understands this before it becomes too late!