Discussion about funeral arrangement with family

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Nancy, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Last week my husband told me he didn't want a funeral, no church service, just have him cremated, short service at cemetary and that's it. He said it was too sad and was unnecessary. I didn't say anything at the time but after attending my neighbor's brother's funeral this week I finally asked him to reconsider what that would do to his daughters, especially easy child who is very close to him and will have a difficult time as it is. I explained that funerals are not for the dead, they are for the living so that there can be some closure and they can be comforted in their grief. I told him I thought he would want his family to hold whatever service they thought would give them peace at that difficult time.

    Now today I got call form my sister who had been at Dad's today and she reported he did not want our other sister's name in the obit, nor her kids. She was prepared to honor those wishes, I was not. So I called Dad and had the most difficult conversation about his funeral, he's 88 and let's face it that time could come anytime. I explained that I was very uncomfortable leaving out his firstborn and although they have been estranged for many years, I do not want to be in the position of denying that she is my sister. I would rather he be the bigger person and not give her a reason for her estrangement from the family. His family did things like that all the time, left out family members' names they were mad at when they died and I didn't want to repeat that cycle. He finally agreed that we could include her name.

    How has anyone else dealt with this subject, have you honored funeral wishes that made you uncomfortable and that in your heart you knew where going to cause hurt feelings?

  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    We haven't had any issues like this. My dad's mom for years said she wanted everyone to wear red at her funeral. One of her sisters did,and several other relatives had hissys until they were told to be quiet, it was what Gma wanted.

    We tend not to have discord over these things, just family tradition to do what is asked.

    Sorry you have such a difficult funeral to face, and such requests that make you uncomfortable.


  3. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Personally, I'm with your husband. I don't want a funeral -- it's just not worth the expense. What I do want is a gathering of my friends and family after I am cremated. I want them to remember me, the good and the bad. More importantly, I want them to celebrate my life, not mourn my death.

    If my daughter feels the need for a service to say good-bye, I hope she do it privately. If she can't then she can do as she needs. My wishes are that she find comfort no matter what that means.

    However, I wouldn't speak for your daughters. I think they have a right to know their father's wishes and decide what is right for him and them. It doesn't have to be today or tomorrow but as they mature and everyone feels they can make mature decisions. If you need the services for yourself, then that should be factored into any decision.

    Death is not an easy subject but an important one. It is good that your husband spoke his wishes.
  4. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    I'm with your husband in that I've told everyone I want no funeral. I want to be cremated the cheapest way they'll do it and the cheapest urn required for the ashes and scatter my ashes in the country somewhere. I refuse to have my family spend thousands of dollars for any of that. We're not well off, and if it happens before I'm old that money is better used to take care of my kids. And if it happens when I'm old, my kids will (I hope) have my grandkids to take care of. I've told my mom, sibs, husband and kids this already, and that if husband was to pass away before me he'll get the same, and he agreed. If they want to spend money, then I'd rather they spend in on a hot dog/hamburger potluck buffet "family reunion" type gathering to see each other again, maybe remember the good times we had, because that's the kind of thing I love, getting together with family and just being together.
  5. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    My husband family is (was) quite different from my family and good thing he was an only child as were both his parents- or at least thats what he had been told all his life. (since his parents deaths we HAVE found relatives)
    My family can be quite rude and loud and off again on again. BUT when it comes time for final arrangements, we mix practical with sentimental. Even when there are estrangements, those feuds somehow thru some long standing code of conduct sorta slide away for the wake and funeral, and everyone simply gives each other space.
    We have had deaths where there were no funds to have an obit in the paper and no funds for anything more than a very simple cremation with no service. We have had long drawn out affairs doubled in another state for family who could not come to the first state...with very elaborate arrangements.

    My husband has said - no wake, no funeral, no nothing, ake me out with the garbage. Yeah, that sounds "practical" but, I have been able to help him come to see that our children most likely might need "more" I have said "please, do not incur debt that will drag anyone down for their future"
    I have also said "please do not fight, please realize you all might need something different, try to accomodate each other"

    Within reason in my family we try to honor the recently deceased wishes.....but we also realize the deceased is gone. We do need to keep in mind the people left behind as well.
    Personally I myself would NEVER leave out any family member, even if estranged. Sometimes estranged family members will grieve even harder than others becuz now the hope of ever haveing a reconciliation is gone forever. And being excluded could close reconciliation doors to others who may in the future want to have a reconciliation.
    Ah yes, I have arranged and been in charge of more arrangements than I ever could have thought possible.......way way way too many.......
    And seems to me some people take a death and it can be a catalyst for healing even beyond the realtionship between them and the recently deceased. People CAN change, feelings can change, circumstances can change and I am not big on doing things that cannot be undone if I do not like how they turned out the first time.
    Actually my first husband died when I was 25 and he was 30. He had been 100% estranged from his family since he was 16. Noone attended his memorial service except me and my now husband. 20 years later his mother passed, and his siblings requested my first husband remains, so they could bury them with his mother.......20 years and healing finally happened. 20 years later and his siblings FINALLY had a funeral for their brother.
  6. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    "Chelle, thats how the majority of our family funerals are- potluck at someones house, all family, all friends, all kids, grandkids etc present, music, laughter, etc. Of course there are also tears, and lots of people to share hugs and offer comfort. Sometimes we have no "body" becuz several in the family have donated bodies to science.....sometimes ashes do not get collected from funeral home.....sometimes we run with simply memory, or photos or videotapes. Always we go with lots of funny stories and such to be shared. Once we even rented a hotel room and all who wanted gathered at the hotel pool.....once we went as a very very large group to....a zoo. My mom passed just before Christmas and we gathered Toys for Tots instead of haveing flowers. We put up a Christmas Tree at her wake (her fav holiday and she always did it in a HUGE way)
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Funerals should be a celebration of life - not a family throwdown.

    My Father didn't want ANY fan fare. We honored his wishes because well lets face it - it was his life, his body and his party. (so to speak) And none of us wanted to think for the rest of OUR lives that we did things OUR way instead of the way Dad wanted them.

    So we had him creamated
    We didn't have a graveside service - we had a life celebration at the funeral home for my Mother's sake. My father's family didn't even show up and my Moms family (per fathers orders) were not informed.

    As far as the obituary- It said his name, in lieu of flowers make donations to the American Lung Association, and that he will be missed by his wife, daughters, and grandchildren. We all think the name thing is - unnecessary. If you KNEW the person in life - you knew his family - either you did or you didn't. It only gives others the opportunity to send cards, and he didn't want those either - neither did my Mom - she said that meant that by the time she was able to deal with his passing - she would be reminded to send out cards as a thank you when she really didn't feel like thanking anyone for anything. Wording the obit. in the paper like such kept it to Dads wishes - and was simple and cheaper.

    So at the funeral home instead of a casket and flowers, and plants that no one wants to take care of - there was a magnetic picture board with my dads picture, and life pictures, our pictures with our dad, mom's wedding pictures - and stuff like that - again we caution celebration of LIFE -

    Someone bought a HUGE basket of flowers. I mean HUGE like 5 1/2 feet high - and they were beautiful. No one jumped up and yelled - YOU should have sent the money to the lung association. Instead my sister and I walked our mother over to the person that sent them and thanked her for her gesture and then asked if we could share the beauty with a local nursing home. they would be delivered in a limousine by the funeral home. We said it would be sharing something beautiful with the living and IN her name. She loved the idea. We explained there was a cremation and no burial. That eliminated the need for a thank you card or for mom to remember.

    At the funeral a minister said some great things about my wonderful Dad. We just asked that the part be left out about Death where is thy sting. And he didn't. Said it just like it was part of a rehearsed eulogy. But other than the sting - it went well. After the eulogy - I stood up and said (ladies name) provided sandwhiches and cold salad - and everyone was invited.

    The funeral home drove us to my Moms. Only a few people showed up, but that was okay. Most were friends of my Dads and their wives. We spent the rest of the day crying, laughing and remembering. Mostly trying to console my Mom who after 65 years would be alone for the first time in her life. For her we were the most sad. She lost her life mate, her soul mate, her helper, her lover. You don't find many men like him any more.

    My best advice would be to get through this however you can and respect your dads wishes. If the name thing is a bone of contention with you - perhaps my suggestion of will be missed by: can help and heal all concerned.

    Hugs -
  8. WiscKaren

    WiscKaren New Member

    My mom did not want a funeral, but did want to be buried. Because of legal reasons, we had to set up her funeral before she died. That was emotionally draining. My mom suffered from agorphobia for many years, so everything was left up to me (being her only daughter and my two brothers did not want to be part of it).

    She died suddenly in my home in 2001. She had mentioned that her one brother, if he wanted too, could come to the funeral home to pay his respects. So, I met him there. And I was shocked!! Here he had called her other brother, and my mom and him had not spoken to each other in years (like 20+), and all their kids and their kids' kids were there. I was too stunned to say anything. Her estranged brother walked in and said, "It's nice not to see you with a scowl on your face finally". I cried so hard, but maintained myself for out of respect to my mom.

    We did have a graveside service. They all came out there. And her estranged brother had the adacity to help carry her casket to the grave. I was stunned. I didn't ask him; he just took it upon himself.

    If I had known this, I would not have asked her one brother to come to pay his respects. I felt like I did not honor my mother's wishes -- and to this day, it bothers me immensely.

    My funeral arrangements are done. At the time I die, I only hope my wishes are followed.
  9. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    my father passed away 3.5 years ago about 36 hours after hip replacement surgery. Noone expected it. But, he prepared for it. He told my mother than if something should happen and he were to die, she should go to the red cabinet and would find an envelope. My father wrote his own obit and also requested that family only attend his funeral. (not only that, but we found documents on their computer entitled "For E....", my mom's name that contained instructions on how to go about notifying SSA of his passing and how to contact Arlington Cemetary for his internment, etc.)

    His obit listed only mom and the four of us children. No grandchildren by name, none of his three surviving siblings. My father was a fun-loving man full of life, humor and love. We honored his wishes, but so many people wanted to attend the funeral mass but the obit listed a private service for family only. Personally, I would have loved to have shared the day and hear wonderful stories of my dad from his business associates we met and socialized with over the years and good family friends we grew up with, partied with, and cried with over the years. We were surrounded by family on both sides, moms and dads. But, they were my father's wishes and they had to be honored, my mother insisted.

    Dad also wanted to be cremated with no funeral home stuff. He was interned in Arlington cemetary a year after his death. Mom wanted his ashes with her for awhile.

    I kinda feel differently. A few years ago, right after bonehead and I seperated, I flew to Texas for a long weekend to visit with friends. I had a will, but it did not include funeral arrangements. I wrote them at that time. I want to be cremated with no funeral home services, but I do want a celebration at our church. I want my family, especially for my children, and friends to be there to support my children. I want my children to feel the love that is left around them after I go. I also chose my music and requested a friend of my daughter, who attends our church, to sing one of the songs and dedicate to easy child and difficult child.

    I also put down that I would prefer to be "double burned", no ashes, but if the children would prefer, they could keep the ashes. easy child has said that she would like to have some of my ashes put into a little gold cross necklace and that she would love to scatter my ashes at the beach in the Atlantic since she, difficult child, and I have so many wonderful memories of our times at the beach.

    I believe it is important to plan ahead. I think it is important to get some input from your loved ones. Especially since funerals and such are for the living not the dead. But ultimately, it is the wishes of the deceased that should rule.

  10. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Nancy, my dad was a difficult child in his own right. His only instruction was "burn him". He didn't care about the rest of it. My parents community does not do cremation. My mother was appalled and voiced her opinion despite their divorce of 10yrs.
    We honored his wish. We did have a dinner after a small service at the funeral home so that we can share dad's story and they could share it with us.
    I think anything hurtful should not be included. It is irrepairable. It is the final slap from the grave that the child or spouse can not defend or confront.
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think I probably come from a family with very strange ideas on this. My one greataunt was the cheapest person I have ever met. She was always gracious and welcoming to us, and I know she loved us dearly.

    When I was a girl we visited at Memorial Day and took her to the Cemetary. When we got home she wanted to show just me something. I had asked why her husband didn't havea headstone there.

    She pulled out a ziploc baggie full of his ashes. She couldn't bear to part with them. They were in a file cabinet. The bag was labelled with his name. Not sure if it was all or part of him. Didn't want to ask.

    As frugal as she was (she lived through the Depression and she and her husband worked very hard and were very frugal) she did, in her words, "Splurge" on a new box of ziplocs so he would have a new ziploc, not one that was re-used.

    I think we should do what we can to respect the wishes of those we mourn, and also make sure we find the closure, or help in grieving, that a service can provide.

  12. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks for your input. I am more concerned about leaving my sister's name out of the obit than I am in the funeral ceremony. I agree with the celebration of life and have no problem with how anyone wants to arrange that whether it be a funeral service or in a banquet hall. I am uncomfortable with leaving a child's name out of the obit and leaving that baggage for the other children to deal with over the years. I've seen that done where the siblings are forever at odds because of what happened or didn't happen when mom or dad died. Dad feels as though he will be getting back at her for her turning her back on him, he'll show her. I don't see that celebrating anyone's life. I see that as being spiteful, vindictive. I don't want to remember Dad that way. My other sister and I have come to have a very good relationship with him and for me to have his life come down to fighting over who can and cannot come to his celebration of life is crazy. My sister will have to deal with not having had a relationship with him, that's far worse in my thinking than leaving her name out of the obit.


    P.S. Fran, my Dad was a difficult child in his own right too. He is probably more than 50% of the reason he my sister are estranged. I believe he wants to hurt her, to disown her in public. I would rather we leave all our names out than one.
  13. WiscKaren

    WiscKaren New Member

    Nancy, I just want to add that in my mom's obit, I mentioned my sister in law by name even though my brother and her were in the middle of a divorce. Just in case they didn't go through with the divorce, I didn't want that thrown up in my face. They didn't, but I don't regret having her name in the obit. She was part of my mom's life for almost 25 years.
  14. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    My dad passes away suddenly just over 9 months ago. The invincible - wasn't.

    He hated overly religious services. He called them "recruiting parties for Christ". We were all sure he wouldn't have wanted that. He also didn't like a big fuss to be made over him, so we planned a small graveside service with a lot of little things that meant something to us, his family, and a farmer/neighbor/classmate from country school performed the graveside service.

    He loved his family, his farm, and his antique tractors, so we had the grandsons drive the tractors to the cemetary, and at the end of the service, the oldest started grandpa's tractor, a Johnny Popper, and "popped" it loud. Another granddaughter brought yellow and green balloons to release, then the 3 tractors lead a procession to a lunch at a local church. The casket flowers were built around one of his toy tractors, and everyone who wanted contributed to the arrangement by adding little trinkets that were special between them and my dad. One son brought a tiny rifle and deer, a grandson added a Hot Wheels go-cart and 4wheeler, someone added a tiny cast iron skillet. Wee difficult child, the youngest of his grandkids, had spent all day with him the week before selling him colored Easter eggs. He stuck in an Easter egg and a bag of change so grandpa could buy eggs in Heaven.

    The 2 hour visitation turned into 5 hours and the small graveside service had cars lining the highway for a mile either direction from the cemetary. Had we known that, we probably wouldn't have put all the goofy stuff on his casket spray, but then again, that's the kinda guy he was, and I'm pretty sure it was a bash he'd have loved and it was the bash we all needed to say goodbye.

    Guess I'm kinda hijacking your post, but my point was, with a little creativity, I think we combined what dad would have wanted with what the rest of us needed. Hopefully you and yours can do the same.
  15. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    My dad always said "If you want to plant something when I die, plant a tree". Once he found out about body donation, he was all for it.
    And that's what we did (I've also had quite a number of other relatives donate their bodies). We had a mass, and then had everyone over to the house he had built for a potluck/wake/what have you.
    His ashes are interred at a communal area that was donated for the program at our local cemetery.
  16. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    That's what I was saying:

    Mr. so and So of Such and such place
    has gone to be with
    Passed away at 101
    Left this earth
    Went to a homecoming with his Lord

    on February 31st, 2050.

    He leaves behind three daughters, three sons,
    two son in laws, three daughter in laws,
    17 grand children, and 3 great grandchildren

    He will be missed by all.

    Wouldn't that suffice or work? Maybe (morbid as it sounds) but since your dad is into it - clip some local obituaries and paste them in a book for him to look at - and ask him to please pick one. Then - depending on the style just put your sisters name in.

    Just trying to think of something that will help = but if your dad is a difficult child - I wish you luck.
  17. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I guess it's just a matter of personal preference. My former mother in law had always let it be known that she wanted to be cremated when she died but apparently had never said anything about what to do with her ashes. My (adult) daughter had always been very close to her grandma and was devastated when she died. When grandma died, they had a nice funeral service and then she was cremated. One daughter in law suggested that her ashes be scattered in the ocean near where she used to live, in a different state, so that's what was done. My daughter was OK with the cremation, but had a real problem with the way the ashes were handled. She said it was just like her grandmother disappeared, almost like she had never "been"! There was no grave, no marker, no nothing! No place for her to leave flowers, no place to go "visit" grandma if she wanted to sit and talk to her for a while like she always used to!

    My family is still talking about the service they had for my oldest cousins' husband! I think they had the right idea with this one. They had been married for over 40 years and he was a real character, always full of fun and playing pranks - one of the funniest people I've ever met! He had been sick with cancer for many years - kept his sense of humor right to the end. He wanted his body to be donated to the university medical school, so there was no funeral service after he died. Instead, about two weeks after, they held a simple religious memorial service for him, followed by a covered dish meal in the fellowship hall of the church. There were so many people there ... our whole huge family, friends, neighbors, his former co-workers, all their kids friends. And it turned out just like they thought it would. Everybody brought pictures and started swapping funny stories about him, and everybody ended up laughing, in spite of themselves! Just the way he would have wanted it!
  18. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member


    My parents both decided long ago that they wanted to be cremated. I am not very comfortable with the idea but my mother followed my father's wishes.

    We did not have a public viewing but we did have a private family viewing to say goodbye. We went to the crematory where he was laid out very nicely. I was worried about how he would look since he hadn't been embalmed and my girls were young but I was surprised at how natural he looked. He honestly looked better than those people I have seen "made up" in a funeral home casket.

    Anyway, we got to have closure and then followed the private viewing with a public memorial service at their chuch for their friends and church family. It was a lovely way to say goodbye.

    I've changed my mind since then about cremation. I'm still not sure that it's for me but it didn't make the death any harder (than it already was) on the family. I think your girls would be okay.

    by the way, my mom still has "dad" with her all these years later. She wants us to comingle their ashes when the time comes and then bury them together in the family plot.

    It's a little creepy and nice all at the same time.

  19. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Kathy thanks for sharing, the service sounds lovely and very tasteful. I am not at all against cremation. I'm sorry I made it sound that way. I was against my husband saying he wanted no service just cremate him and be done with it. He knows how sensitive our easy child is and how close she is to us and how it would devastate her not to be able to grieve in a way that would comfort her. For her that means some sort of service where she can be comforted by her faith.

    I was actually just mentioning that as a precursor to the convo with my Dad and not wanting his daughter's name or her kids in the obit and how uncomfortable that would make it for me and how it would drive an already wedge further deeper between us. I understand many of the reasons for their estrangement but I can't get over that your kids are your kids forever and at some point the anger and vidictiveness should stop, or at least not follow you into the grave.

  20. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    I agree with your thoughts Nancy.

    We seem to be big believers in cremation too at least in my side of the family. I am not at all sure what my fathers plans are anymore. I guess I will find out sometime.

    I kinda had to chuckle at whoever posted about the family member who kept the ashes with them in plastic bags. Ummm....I still have both my Grandmother and my Mom sitting here on a shelf in my family room because we simply cant figure out what to do with them! I inherited my Grandmother from underneath my Moms bathroom sink when Mom came to live with me.

    Mom had no service for my Grandmother when she died. She was simply cremated and the ashes returned to my Mom. I didnt find it all that unusual because my Grandmother came up from Florida to live with my Mom because she got sick and had no friends or relatives there other than us. Same thing when my Mom died here with me. We had a private family viewing before my mom was cremated so the boys could say bye and then nothing.

    Both husband and I have told the boys that we want to be cremated too. They have a running joke that they are going to mix my ashes up with my moms for all eternity so she can torment me in the afterlife too...lol. I will come back and haunt them! We are actually thinking of getting three small boxes made with 4 compartments...one for each of us...my grandmother, my mom, me and their dad. They can put a small amount of each of our ashes in each space and then scatter the rest anywhere they want. Personally I think my grandmothers should go down to Florida where her husbands are buried. My moms should go to Difficult Child so she can torment the government just like she did in life...lol. Their dad can be scattered in the ocean since he loved to fish...and me...just drive me to NYC and dump me along Broadway...I always wanted to go back...lol.