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Preparing For The Inevitable Death

This story is regarding my sister-in-law, who on previous occasions I have bean-dipped with confidence after reading your website. Unfortunately the bean dip has only been a momentary distraction and hasn’t seemed to have discouraged her, but I digress.

I had been asked by a good friend (a part-time chef/ caterer) to personally apologize to my SIL.  Apparently my friend hadn’t responded to a request for catering SIL was trying to organize as my friend’s daughter had been quite ill and in the hospital. I asked what the catering was for and my friend explained that it was for a wake for my SIL’s grandfather. I was shocked as her grandfather, while sick, had not passed away. I was a little taken aback and thought it could just be some sort of confusion of emotion and responsibility while SIL’s grandfather was not well. However, I then saw that my SIL had posted on Facebook asking for general recommendations for a caterer…. with her Grandfather still ill and very much alive. Making it even worse (perhaps only from my point of view) was the comment from a friend of hers (obviously not knowing what it was for) saying she didn’t have a caterer recommendation but to let her know of the party so she could come along to have some fun!

Sadly her lovely grandfather did pass away about a week later.

There is a lot of etiquette surrounding the passing of a loved one but I have truly never come across this situation before and hope never to again. I never did say anything to my SIL as I thought it incredibly inappropriate considering the circumstances. Not sure if there is any way to deal with it in a sensitive way except to let it go.  0113-12

If serving refreshments at a wake or visitation is part of one’s culture, being prepared is not a faux pas.   Death and funerals are so emotionally and physically taxing to the grieving that anything that can be done ahead eases the burden considerably.   I saw this firsthand this past summer when a good friend died suddenly and unexpectedly.    A close family friend was attempting to organize the food for after the funeral and burial for an expected crowd of 350 mourners.  I stepped in to finish the organizing and execution and we ended up serving a good lunch to at least 300 people with just three days to prep.   I’m now working with our church to make plans ahead for set menus, amounts based on how mourners expected and how to execute those plans as efficiently as possible.

My father-in-love died just days ago from cancer and during the time we knew he was terminally ill, there was discreet discussion as to how best to plan for the wake.   The funeral home is  providing the catering for the visitors.   Think about it….we can spend months planning a wedding reception for hundreds of people yet with a funeral there is often mere days to plan the events.  People who are terminally ill know they are dying and there is nothing gruesome or inappropriate about recognizing this inevitable sorrow and making plans ahead of time that will ease the burdens of those left to grieve.

Your sister-in-law appears to have been discreet as to why she wanted information on caterers in her area.  You knew only by accident when your friend asked you to relay a message to your SIL that she could not assist her at this time.   Your SIL’s friend who merrily explained of wanting to be invited to whatever catered event SIL was planning obviously had no idea whatsoever that your SIL was referring to a wake reception and she undoubtedly would be mortified if she knew.

More apropos to the discussion of funeral related faux pas are the insensitive things people will say.   I’m blessed with considerate friends and family but every once in a while a well-intentioned person asks a question that causes me to wince.   And I have concluded that many people either have no idea what to say to a grieving person or know that anything said could result in fresh tears so they say nothing at all.    For those you in that category, at least send a card or note of condolence.  Saying nothing at all seems like you don’t care.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Harley Granny January 16, 2012, 9:52 am

    The only faux pas here was the caterer asking you to pass on an apology.

    Your SIL was very wise to be helping with these preparations in advance. After my husband’s Cancer this past year we decided to sit down and write everything out along with Business names, addresses and phone numbers. Even songs that we wanted. It’s in a file called “final wishes” Both our son and my brother know where the file is and what it’s for.
    I do feel for the FB friend tho. She’s going to be uncomfortable when she finds out what the caterer inquiry was for.

  • Daisy January 16, 2012, 10:07 am

    Please accept my sincerest sympathies on the loss of your father-in-law, who must surely have been an important part of your life and whose death you must grieve. I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Jennifer January 16, 2012, 10:21 am

    Sometimes the dying person is involved in planning their own wake as well, if they are imminently dying and still of clear mind. I don’t see anything wrong with preparing for a death.

    My friend’s grandmother was from a particular part of the US that has elaborate funerals and my friend wanted to do one for her – she had to plan it in advance, when her grandmother had gone into the hospital and it was clear she was never going to leave. It would have been impossible to get everything together in just a few days.

    Of course there are sudden deaths – I had a friend who died very very suddenly, and had to be buried the next day (before a certain day) due to his religious beliefs. It was very very difficult and involved many people working around the clock to get the whole ceremony together.

  • JennJenn68 January 16, 2012, 10:27 am

    My condolences on the death of your father-in-law. Nobody is ever really prepared when it finally happens, no matter how long the illness preceding it. I hope that the arrangements go smoothly and allow you and your family to concentrate on mourning.

  • L.J. January 16, 2012, 10:35 am

    My mother’s church has arrangements with a nearby deli and a florist so everything goes smoothly for the repast. Several family members have passed away in the past few years and it made things easier to not have to think much about those matters and yet still have a nice service and repast. When possible, I composed the obituaries before they died, so I had time to proofread and make sure nobody was forgotten. The time after a death is very difficult and it’s helpful to have routines to settle into and tasks already completed.

  • Diana January 16, 2012, 11:19 am

    A similar situation happened to us when my husband’s grandfather was very ill. His wife (my husband’s grandmother) actually went ahead and scheduled the funeral before he had passed away (she booked the church, set up food, flowers, the whole shebang). She had scheduled the funeral for 2:00 PM on a Saturday, but he held out and didn’t pass away until about 9:00 PM Saturday. Still makes me smile that he managed to hold on long enough to ruin her plans 🙂

  • Cat January 16, 2012, 11:45 am

    I cannot imagine having to plan and to provide food for hundreds of people after the death of a loved one. I have never seen this done. After the funeral, our immediate family goes out to eat or we go home to have whatever food friends and neighbors have provided.

    The feeling is that the family has enough to deal with after a death. People provide food for the family and come to the funeral home before the funeral for visitation. The family sends thank you notes for those who sent flowers or who made contributions to a charity in rememberance of the deceased person.

    To have a sit down, catered meal would be beyond my financial means and would be too much of a strain after such an emotional ordeal. Is this the norm of the day and I am hopelessly outdated or is this similar to the traditional Irish wake and is limited to certain groups?

  • spartiechic January 16, 2012, 12:19 pm

    I’m going to have to agree with the Admin. There is nothing wrong with being prepared. You don’t know if she was booking caterers or just getting information. A funeral doesn’t give much prep time and it’s admirable that she was trying to get as much information as possible before he passed so that she didn’t have to do it all in a few days. The fact that he passed a week later goes to prove that she, indeed, had a reason to feel she needed to get started in the planning. It’s not like she was planning how she would spend his money after he’s gone like I’ve seen other (extremely tacky) people do. She was trying to prepare herself for the inevitable. It’s no different than the funeral planning done by my mother who isn’t likely to die any time soon. She just wants to be prepared so that we don’t have to worry about her wishes when she passes.

  • Justine January 16, 2012, 12:21 pm

    So sorry to hear about your father-in-law.

    Both of my parents have passed away. Being prepared was one of the best ideas. In my grief, I could barely make decisions. Having names and numbers ready really helped when mom passed away. (Dad went first.)

  • Timothy January 16, 2012, 12:40 pm

    @Dianna: Wait, what?! There’s being prepared, and then there is…that! That’s not even an etiquette issue. That’s just…agh! Good for your grandfather-in-law that he gave her one last act of disrupting her plans. Who schedules a full funeral ahead of time?!

  • Shalamar January 16, 2012, 12:46 pm

    Diana, your husband’s grandmother actually SCHEDULED THE FUNERAL when her husband was still alive? That’s taking organization and pre-planning a little too far!

    As for the OP – my opinion is that it’s no more crass to plan ahead for the catering at the wake than it is to buy a plot and a casket.

  • Margaret January 16, 2012, 1:03 pm

    My grandmother is in a nursing home and clearly failing. One of her concerns is about her funeral — what she will wear, will it fit (to the point that she insists on trying it on, even though she cannot even walk), what the lunch will be. She is a worrier, though.

    By gum, when it’s my turn, I’m just going to say make sure there’s lots for everyone, and let someone else worry about it!

    My mom has her funeral wishes in a file. But then, she’s that kind of organized person, and she’s been the one to organize for many funerals, and also, she has seen families torn apart fighting after a death, and that is the one thing she does not want to see.

    I don’t have my funeral planned, but I do have a list of debts and assets made up. I have seen it recommended that you have a list of contacts who should be notified. Maybe no one knows or will remember in time that you were an enthusiastic and active member of the local Whiffle Ball Association, so if there is a contact person named, they can be informed.

  • Margaret January 16, 2012, 1:05 pm

    And I should say that everything is done to reassure my grandmother that her wishes will be carried out and everything will go well. She does not get tut-tutted. And yes, she gets to try on her dress as many times as she wants.

  • LovleAnjel January 16, 2012, 1:08 pm

    My condolences on your loss. Even with knowledge of a terminal illness, you can’t truly prepare.

    I am nowhere near my end of days, but I’ve made it pretty clear to my husband and family what my wishes would be, should I end up in fatal car crash or some such. My father’s side is Polish, and after the burial everyone goes to a huge feast in a banquet hall. It ends up being more like family reunion, everyone chatting and eating things-stuffed-with-meat.

  • SHOEGAL January 16, 2012, 1:22 pm

    A co worker’s mother was preparing to die and it was only a matter of days or weeks when. He lived in another state and visited his mother while she was still living and said his goodbyes. He left to go home and the next week she passed. He didn’t travel back up and said that he had already said goodbye and that a small service would be held months later and he would go to that. I was actually shocked. It was such a cold and practical way of looking at the death of one’s mother. It was as if it had nothing to do with his grief or wanting to be with her – it was more about travel plans and his time away from work. These are things I don’t think should be taken into consideration.

    I’m okay with being prepared but making arrangements on an actual day is wrong. It is like hoping that the loved one will pass so not to spoil the plans.

  • Mary January 16, 2012, 1:35 pm

    I have absolutely no problem with this kind of preparation. As long as she wasn’t discussing it where the soon to be deceased could hear, no problem.

    When my Dad was dying of pancreatic cancer, he was doing everything to prepare. Showing my mom how he paid all of the bills online, planning the funeral for himself and for his 94 year old mom (so my mom wouldn’t have to plan her MIL’s funeral later on) putting together what we called “The Death Binder” with all the vital documents. He even traveled with my mom to another state to select his handmade casket. I just found out from my mom that during that time, he invited representatives from the university where he taught part time to go through all of his teaching materials and xrays to take what they needed so my mom wouldn’t have to go through it. I think the only thing that wasn’t planned out ahead of time was the obituary which I wrote the day after he died (I hate the canned ones that the funeral homes put together) and the meal after the funeral. However our church went through one deli all the time and just asked for a number of people and they set everything up for us.

  • claire January 16, 2012, 2:03 pm

    actually I should hav ethis discussion with my husband….i won’t be there at my funeral so I don’t have much of an opinion, the funeral is for those left behind so we shoudl bot think now about it when we can be a bit detached from the actual idea of what we are planning.

  • Jessyy January 16, 2012, 2:30 pm

    When my grandfather died (after prolonged illness) it was a blessing he had organised everything. My mum and her two sisters (along with my grandmother) had all expected it to happen, but didn’t at the same time. My grandfather had drawn up a list of EVERYTHING (literally – who to phone, in what order, what they knew him as, how much money to donate to where, what he wanted to do with some of his money, what do to about his funeral). Yes, it must be awful planning it all “ahead of necessary” but sometimes you just don’t have enough time to plan in the few days after a death.

    Contrastingly, my boyfriend’s family (when my boyfriend’s father died) had to very often play “guess what he would have wanted”, and “oooh does this step on anyone’s toes?” It was a nightmare to try and organise.

  • Angeldrac January 16, 2012, 3:46 pm

    My dear Grandmother has been wanting to leave us for years – she is a very unwell lady with a mind still as sharp as ever. She has told my and my mother and sisters several times that she had written down her wishes for her funeral etc. and where to find this note hidden. She has had to do this because my Grandfather utterly refuses to discuss the matter with her or anyone else. We understand his fear and sadness at the prospect of losing his wife, but it has caused my Grandmother some trouble, not feeling free to discuss anything about her passing and funeral with him. They are two people very much in love, as much as they were 65 years ago, but I am glad my Grandmother has found some comfort in disclosing her ‘secrets’ to us and I hope it eases her mind when she does leave us.

    Admin, I’m sorry to hear of your father-in-law’s passings. My thoughts to you and your family.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith January 16, 2012, 4:37 pm

    Agreed! It is often the daughter in law, sister in law etc who step in to help when immediate family is grieving a loss. They sometimes are asked to work miracles with short notice and no help (we had a death in the family recently so I had occasion to observe this dynamic again, first hand). Who would fault someone for helping her family by preparing for a very difficult event in advance?

  • lkb January 16, 2012, 5:37 pm

    I understand where you’re coming from but where I live (midwestern US), the funeral luncheon is the family’s way of saying thank you to all who came to offer condolences and support (in addition to the thank you notes). Often it’s in a restaurant but the church I belong to also has a funeral lunch ministry: When funeral arrangements are being made, the family is asked whether they would like the church to host a luncheon afterwards. Church members are contacted (if they’ve expressed interest in the ministry) to help (serve food, provide food, set up, clean up etc.). I think it’s up to the family whether to make a donation to the church in return (and how much that donation would be). I think it’s pretty typical in that case for the family to send a thank you to the church or to whomever is in charge of the ministry.

    I’ve known of a few cases in which the funeral lunch took place in a person’s home, but it’s been years since I’ve been to one.

    It’s pretty typical for neighbors and friends to provide food for the family after a loss but I’ve never seen this take the place of a funeral luncheon. Different practices for different cultures I suppose.

    My condolences on the OP’s loss.

  • Jennifer January 16, 2012, 5:39 pm

    This actually reminds me of something – for important people, funerals are planned far ahead of time. When someone dies suddenly, like Princess Diana, there are tons of people scrambling to make the important decisions, and it often gets botched (watch “The Queen”).

  • Jennifer January 16, 2012, 5:40 pm

    (I misused important, I meant famous people – heads of state and such).

  • QueenofAllThings January 16, 2012, 6:34 pm

    I have to disagree with the admin on one point – while it is appropriate to discreetly plan a funeral (including catering) ahead of time, I don’t think Facebook is the place to do so, even if simply asking for a catering recommendation. First, it’s very public, and second, you get comments like the ones the poster got – “Hey – party? Count me in!”

    Leave Facebook out of it. Call, text or PM a few trusted friends instead.

  • G. January 16, 2012, 6:58 pm

    To Cat

    the way I’ve always seen wakes done is after the funeral, everyone goes down to the pub. There may be snack/party foods on offer, such as mini-cocktail sausages and the like, but no catered meals.

  • MyFamily January 16, 2012, 7:49 pm

    My sincere condolences on the loss of your father-in-law. I hope that your memories of him bring you and your entire family comfort during this difficult time.

    As far as the OP, I have to say this is someone who is looking for something to judge her SIL on and not a real issue. I organized the food for the night before and lunch after for both of my mother’s parents. Thank G-d, I worked with a friend who owns a grocery store with a catering arm and she was able to help me tons. Without her assistance, I don’t think I could have done it. I think this SIL was smart to take some pro-active steps faced with the reality that her beloved grandfather was dying.

    Also, for some people, they do best in situations like this by keeping busy and focusing on these details and not on what they can’t control.

  • AMC January 16, 2012, 8:01 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Admin. My sincere condolences on the passing of your father-in-law. You and your family will be in my thoughts.

  • Cat Whisperer January 16, 2012, 10:10 pm

    First, my condolences to the Administrator on her loss. She has my admiration for continuing to get the website updated at a time when it must be very stressful.

    As Administrator noted, when a loved one dies, the survivors are frequently left scrambling to put together the appropriate activities associated with a wake, a funeral, a post-funeral get together of family, and the necessary acknowledgements of condolences received and thanks for assistance from people who help you hold it together at a very tough time.

    From my own dealing with losses, which includes the loss of my grandparents, my mother, my father, my younger brother, and my husband’s mother and father, I’ve learned that there are basically three kinds of people you have to deal with:

    The people who ask how they can help, and pitch in without complaint or criticism, who forgive you if you make mistakes and gaffes and act irrationally and cover for you when you lose it and can’t deal with things anymore;

    The people who get snitty about the mistakes you make and pick holes in what you do, who are quick to point out your errors and who hoard grudges over the way you deal with the situation, and are always able to come up with reasons why their grief is more important and more precious and more worthy of forgiveness of errors and gaffes than your grief is;

    And the people who just can’t handle the concept of death and try to deal with it by pretending nothing has happened. They won’t express sorrow at your loss, because they don’t know what to say; they won’t offer to help you in any way, because they feel inadequate and are afraid they’ll do something wrong; and if they can, they will avoid even mentioning in your presence the person who passed away, because they don’t know how to cope with your reaction, whatever that reaction is.

    Man, I’ve met all three kinds, and all I can say is that I hope there’s an especially hot place in hades for people who use the occasion of a loved one’s death to belittle you or criticize you for what you’ve done to deal with the things that have to be done when a loved one dies. And I hope there’s an especially special place in heaven for the people who try to help as best they can, who don’t judge and don’t criticize, but who understand that you’re going through a hellaciously difficult time and that you aren’t perfect and aren’t going to handle it perfectly.

    For the people who are unable to cope with the concept of death to the point where they’re afraid to even address the subject with someone who has lost a loved one, I have this to say: GET OVER IT. The one certainty in your life is that you will have to deal with death sooner or later. Be adult and face that fact.

  • Cat Whisperer January 16, 2012, 10:23 pm

    Shalamar said: “….As for the OP – my opinion is that it’s no more crass to plan ahead for the catering at the wake than it is to buy a plot and a casket.”

    I got a smile out of this, because when I was in college, my roommate told me that her mom and dad had already made plans for their funerals and had bought the plots at the cemetary.

    She said that when the guy from the cemetary who handles sale of the plots came out to their house to handle the details, he described the various plots that were available. He made a big pitch for a pair of plots that were under a large, beautiful tree. These were premium plots which cost more than the usual gravesites because they were under a tree.

    My roommate said her mother, who was quite a character, immediately told the cemetery rep that she’d been, in her own words, “sh*t upon her entire life, so she’d be damned if she’d pay extra for the privilege of having birds sh*t on her for the rest of eternity”! My roommate said that the cemetery rep was so shocked he darn near fell off the couch.

  • Lily G January 17, 2012, 12:54 am

    I really like the phrase “father-in-love”. That is incredibly sweet and loving. My sympathies on his passing-he must have been a great guy to merit that term.

  • Edhla January 17, 2012, 4:19 am

    I don’t think the SIL in this story did anything terribly wrong. But now I’m wondering about my aunt who rang her son’s singing coach from my grandparents’ kitchen to ask them to teach him something “for the funeral.” My grandfather was dying of cancer in a nearby bedroom and my mother was weeping by his side. These were not her parents but her in-laws. I’m still horrified, to be honest. Nobody else had asked my cousin to sing at the funeral and she just wanted to grandstand his “talent.”

  • Lexie January 17, 2012, 5:13 am

    I partially disagree with the admin on this matter. I understand that preparations must be made quickly, but if you choose to start preparations early, do them quietly. Not everything needs to be mentioned on Facebook; phone books still exist. Ultimately, if the grandfather had passed away, something else would have been posted on FB and her intentions made clear. Discretion is greatly lacking these days, especially online. How dreadful would it have been had her grandfather pulled through? I really don’t understand how organizing a caterer for a funeral of someone still living can be acceptable but, say, ordering the headstone and casket is appalling,.

    I think the caterer passing along a message via the OP was beyond tacky and no way to run a business.

  • SS January 17, 2012, 8:27 am

    I don’t see any etiquette issue about asking for caterer suggestions (for a funeral) on facebook if you don’t specify what it is for. The actual etiquette issue is the person who attempted to invite themselves to a party. One can ask for advice on all types of things on facebook but that could be gathering information for themselves or a friend or personal reasons (in this case).

  • Xtina January 17, 2012, 8:52 am

    OP, my condolences on your loss.

    I don’t think SIL really did anything “wrong”, but maybe Facebook wasn’t the best place to ask for advice–considering the event that she was planning for, even if she didn’t broadcast it to FB, that seems more the kind of event that you’d probably just want to call or ask people directly.

    The caterer that contacted the OP should have done his/her own apologizing, not have the OP pass along an apology–that makes it seem very insincere!

    @Diana–planning a whole funeral ahead of time–that’s AWFUL!

    I’ve never heard of including a meal or catering in funeral planning. Everyone feeds themselves before or after the event, although people will generally take food to the family of the deceased for a few days/weeks to help ease their burdens.

  • Cupcake January 17, 2012, 9:29 am

    Admin, I am so sorry for your loss.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to make plans for a funeral ahead of time, but I do think it’s a little tacky to do it through a public forum like Facebook. If you are familiar with social networking sites, you are probably also familiar with Google and can find recommendations for a caterer yourself.

  • Tracy January 17, 2012, 9:34 am

    @ Shoegal – I find your post unnecessarily judgmental. The man managed to visit his mother while she was living instead of waiting until after she had died. I find that neither cold nor too “practical.” I would hate to think that my loved ones, who might only be able to make one trip to see me, would wait until I was dead because it would look better to outsiders.

    Admin, my condolences on your loss.

  • Wink-n-Smile January 17, 2012, 10:33 am

    First – my condolences, Admin, on your loss. He was obviously loved (I love the term “father-in-love”) and will be missed.

    Second – I think that I will specify in my plans that for my funeral, we’ll just order a lot of pizza.

  • Gracie C. January 17, 2012, 11:54 am

    @ Lexie – many people order their plots, headstones and caskets ahead of time. There is actually nothing appalling about it.

  • mom2kids71 January 17, 2012, 12:43 pm

    Six years ago, my family experienced the loss of 3 close family members in one calendar year (my maternal grandmother, my maternal grandfather 2.5 months later, then my mother 9.5 months after that). My grandparents knew they were dying and made some preparations with the funeral home in the months prior to their passing. We pretty much knew where to look for documents, address books, etc. My mom’s scenario was much different as she passed in a home fire (on Christmas Day no less) and documents were much harder to find. In NC, a catered lunch isn’t served because typically friends and neighbors always prepared mounds of food for the family. The church has one of their circle groups come and serve, as well as stay at the home during the visitation and funeral to answer the phone and door if necessary.

    I agree with Admin, that being prepared is necessary so as not to forget anything. My grandparents were prepared, but my mom was not. We became prepared with experience that, unfortunately, we wished we hadn’t had.

  • Library Diva January 17, 2012, 2:59 pm

    I don’t really see anything particularly bad about what SIL did, nor with the way she did it. It’s pretty common for people to ask, via FB, if anyone knows a good caterer/computer repair guy/plumber/method of freezing pesto/etc. It’s a little awkward to have that comment up there from the person who wants to go to the party, but that’s on them, and maybe it will teach them to think next time before they open their mouths (really, even if it wasn’t for a funeral, why would that person’s random FB friend necessarily think they’re invited? It might not have even been for SIL, she could have been asking on someone else’s behalf).

    Actually arranging things ahead of time, like the one commentor’s grandma-in-law did, crosses the line. But there’s nothing wrong, IMO, with having a few phone numbers at the ready, or even with having made contact with a caterer. For all we know, SIL’s grandpa could have asked her to take care of things, and she could have been trying to fulfill his last wishes.

    I’m sorry for both admin’s and the OP’s loss.

  • Kitty Lizard January 17, 2012, 3:32 pm

    My condolences – you must have been very close.

    A very close friend of ours, who was close to our
    age (early 40s,) died unexpectedly. (Heart attack). In his will, he left a sum of money for a blowout
    cocktail party. It stunned us all, but it specified his closest friends, (my husband and my) to throw
    the party and we did at our house, as he specified. It was a roaring good party that lasted till the
    wee hours of the morning, with laughter, tears, and incredible good memories.

    The next day, at daybreak, we boarded his sailboat sailed into the sunrise and scattered his ashes
    at sea. (He was a naval architect.) There were a lot of friends crowded aboard the boat,
    watching the sun rise, as the tide and his ashes and the flowers flowed toward the horizon as we
    bade bon voyage to our dear friend with tears and laughter and champagne. It was an unusual send-off, but in the end, it was the greatest good-bye I’ve ever seen.

  • Tracy January 18, 2012, 9:13 am

    Someone else’s comment reminded me… in what parts of the country is it typical for the bereaved family to feed the other mourners? In my part of the country, people bring food TO the family, rather than expecting to be fed.

  • ladycrim January 18, 2012, 12:44 pm

    Thank you for posting this, Miss Jeanne. I was told on Monday that my mother only has a couple of months left at best. I was worried that even discussing the funeral with family would be considered morbid, but it’s something that must be done. I wish I lived in your area so I could take advantage of the budget plan you’re working on.

  • babs January 18, 2012, 4:53 pm

    I used to have a sweet little elderly in my Sunday School class who traveled out of state for her sister’s “Celebration of Life” service. Only thing is, her sis had not died yet! She had a terminal illness and decided she wanted the whole thing while she was alive. She wanted to hear the music that was to be played, the sermon and the tributes by family and friends! Now THAT’s planning! We thought it was sweet. Her sister passed away a few months later.

  • Enna January 21, 2012, 5:44 am

    Sorry to hear about your Father-In-Law.

    I agree with Admin on this one.

  • Kat January 25, 2012, 12:30 pm

    When my grandmother passed away last year, we certainly were expected to feed the mourners. We held two memorial services: one in the town where she was raised, married and where much of her extended family still lives, and another in the town to which she moved when my mother was a teenager, where most of her children and grandchildren live. In her birthplace, a light lunch was catered by her brother’s church, where the service was held. In our hometown, we held a light lunch at our/her home, to which everyone was invited back after the church service. This is a totally separate thing from gifts of food from friends and neighbors to the family after her passing—and in our case, the memorial services were a month apart due to geography, and the first one (which included the burial/scattering of ashes) was two weeks after her death.

    Even though we had several weeks between her passing and the first memorial service, a lot of the arrangements had been discussed ahead of time. My grandmother made her wishes *extremely* clear to my mother, down to what portion of her ashes were to go in the plot with my grandfather, what portion scattered over her parents’ gravestones, what portion to the ocean with my uncle, and what portion scattered among her favorite flowers in her garden. Most of these arrangements had to be made before my grandmother passed away, which she (and most-everyone else) knew was imminent more than a month beforehand (she had been battling Stage 4 pancreatic cancer for over a year).

  • RC February 3, 2012, 7:16 am

    I’ve had distant relatives whose funerals I attended, and they seemed to be along the lines of a non-religious Chinese funeral service. In every case, we had a massive 7-course meal (with a lot of roast pig IIRC) after the service at a nearby restaurant, and I think this is arranged by the immediate family, but there must be some partnership between the restaurants and the funeral home because organising that much food for 100 people definitely takes some time and logistics.

  • NostalgicGal December 24, 2012, 2:40 am

    I am an only and have no children, just my DH… and more distant family. When my father turned sixty, I had to sit down with him and discuss ‘those issues’ because I lived states away and would have to face up to all of this. He said it was hard, but we sat down and sorted everything for if he or mom or both went. He finally made a will. And a living will. So did mom. We revisit it periodically…. (the plans and wishes). Mom took a really bad turn a few years ago, and I even wrote her obit. She’s still with us.

    My father had a sudden diagnosis of lung cancer recently, started his chemo/radiation and came home rather suddenly. I’m not agreeing so much with them saying ‘it’s not working’ as he decided, with a few decades of various iffy health, pain, and now this, that he had had enough. I’m not pushing it. I can’t. At least with some preparation and having to face things before, it’s sorted, plans made, and some logistics planned for. We made a special effort to go there to see them, after the diagnosis and before he started treatment. Time to go was now, so we did.

    I don’t see it wrong to plan ahead, just don’t dwell on it. Having a caterer is a little unusual but if that is your family or society norm, then. Our tradition would be a potluck for the gathering after the service… I sure hope it’s not turning to ‘having to’ throw a big stylized event like weddings have turned into! There will just be enough to settle estate and cover what needs to be covered and I certainly don’t have the wherewithal to have anything elaborate. And that’s not what they want.

    I am not looking forward to dealing with certain infamily issues nor the obligation of doing the service and some of the afters myself.

    Maybe the grandfather is the one that is the source of the need, wanting to have the party before he passes. If not I can see why making the plans ahead of time BUT. It’s so easy to descend into TACKY and a real bad thing… like the facebook bit.

    Another thing is those who prey on those with a death in the family, as the entire situation is just quite a traumatic stressful time and has to often be done in such a short timeframe. Another thing I am not looking forward to facing. Being fleeced (or grand attempts to) by vendors and more.

    With the way our society is changing though, I expect a slide into increasingly more tacky and gauche than aanything.

  • NostalgicGal December 26, 2012, 5:40 am

    This morning my planning is needed.

    Enough said. I am glad I did have it done, as it gives me what I need to keep going through with what has to be done in the next few days and weeks. And hopefully avoid a ton of drama, insanity, and attempts at fleecing.

    Don’t obsess but gods, do sort it out ahead of the time~!