By Jason Meidl, Funeral Director at Creston Valley Funeral Services
School has started, and for some of us, it is a bittersweet moment. Our youngest started kindergarten this year, and she couldn’t have been more ready. The question was whether we were ready as parents! We have so many moments in our lives where we can forget to stop and just be okay with being in the moment without worries. Life can pass us by so quickly, and we can miss so many things. It’s very true what they say about life being short and valuing every moment that you have. We had a scare this weekend as one of our dogs who has always had a penchant for eating socks ended up at the vets for surgery to correct her latest sock eating fetish. It was a sobering moment for us all as both kids contemplated the effect that losing their dog would have on them. Growing up with a dad who is a funeral director has normalized death for them, and they are very comfortable with the concept. But when faced with the reality that their beloved sock-eating dog may not come home, the idea hit them both very hard. Thankfully, she is going to be okay, but in the words of my youngest – “Dad, dogs die, if not now, then some other time.” I believe its important to not shield our children from death as it is important for them to be able to understand and cope with it when it crosses their paths.
“Do I need to have a funeral or do people do other things?” – Bill
One of the main things I do as a funeral director is to help plan someone’s end of life service. Now, I use the term “service” loosely, as I tell all my families that a service is whatever they make of it. A service can be what we think of as a faith-based organized service, a celebration of life service, a backyard BBQ, to something as simple as a hike to someone’s favorite spot. The word funeral can be taken in so many ways these days. I have seen someone plan their own funeral and even attend their own service when they know their passing is imminent. I have also heard it said many times that a service can be more for the people left than the person that has died. I believe strongly that it’s important to do something for someone who has passed, what that looks like is entirely up to you. There is no right or wrong answer here.
There is a trend that’s growing in popularity, and it’s called a living funeral. It’s a funeral-type gathering, but with one small difference from a traditional funeral. It’s held while the person being honoured is still alive.
That small difference, of course, makes a huge impact on the tone of the gathering. A living funeral tends to be upbeat and celebratory, rather than sad and mournful. After all, the guest of honor is still alive at a living funeral.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no deep emotion in a living funeral. This sort of gathering is typically planned toward the end of a person’s life. It could be that the right time for a living funeral is shortly after a person’s diagnosis with a terminal illness, or as a hospice stay approaches. Or a living funeral could be scheduled to coincide with a milestone birthday. Often a 90th or 100th birthday party and a living funeral will be rolled into one big gathering.
Keep the questions coming! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.