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Monday, February 13, 2017

5 Questions, #2 - Preparing for the Hereafter

Preface:  It's almost taboo in the United States to talk about funeral planning and the like, but recent events for me have highlighted just how important this sort of thing can be.  Oh, and no, your local funeral parlor is not paying me to write this posting.  However, if they wanted to chip in...

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1) Why bother?  You'll be dead anyway.
As my (late) mother grew older, I helped her with many of her financial matters.  One of the things we did was purchase a burial plot for both her and my Dad.  Kind of ironic, given the fact that the two of them never got along, but death does have this way of sewing peace where life made that previously difficult.  Anyway, when my Mom did pass away in 2013, having many of those decisions already made was a big blessing.

Conversely, when my brother Chris passed away, there were no details, no plans, no Will, nothing.  It was all left up to two brothers and a wife to make all of the decisions for his arrangements.  It was, in a very real way, the exact opposite of the experience we had with my Mom, making a stressful time even more stressful, needlessly so I'll add.

Fast forward to now, and the thought of burdening others with having to make decisions for me is nauseating. I never want that kind of attention.  In fact, I've spent a lifetime (and hopefully many years to come) trying to keep my act together, so there's no sense in letting it all fall apart when I pass away.

Added to the above is the fact that I very much want to spend eternity with my wife.  Wherever I go, I want her to go as well (or wherever she goes I want to go as well).  As noted, for the rest of the posting I'll be mostly referring to "we", as I'll try to speak for the collective "us".  My wife can correct the record on any of this if she wants.

2) Cremation or Casket?  Above or below ground?
We're not sure on either count.  My brother Chris was cremated, and it seemed to be a very dignified, almost "clean" way of having remains.  Also, the thought of not being in the cold ground (as if I'll be able to tell anyway) is appealing.  Prior to the arrangements for my brother, I never would have considered cremation.  Now?  Well, I think it's something everyone should consider.  Even the Catholic Church seems to approve (see HERE).

3) Where?
Good question, and on our collective "to do" list for 2017, we have, among wallpaper removal, and driveway paving, a decision on a burial location.  A key driver for us is the idea that we want to be in a place where we can be visited, or, God forbid, one of us could visit the other.

Me?  Well, I want somewhere with trees.  And rabbits.  When I went to Penn State Harrisburg (in Middletown, PA), there was a cemetery near the main campus classroom building.  I'd walk by the cemetery on the way to the athletic building and I'd see all these giant, well-fed rabbits hopping along the tombstones.  In a way, it seemed as if their job was to somehow keep the deceased company.  I found it oddly peaceful.  Anyway, yes, rabbits.

We've talked about a few places, but nothing even remotely close to decided.  A big "what if" is where we will eventually retire.  If it were up to me, well, that place would be about five degrees warmer than northeastern Pennsylvania.

4) Services?
I was born and raised Roman Catholic, so it's natural to think of a Funeral Mass when the time comes.  However, and this is a big "however", I don't like hypocrisy, especially my own.  I don't ascribe to all of the tenants of the Catholic Church, and I'm just not sure that I want to portray the diligent Catholic upon death.  This is, by the way, something that my wife and I have talked about from time to time.  Call this one a "TBD".

5) Any special instructions?
You bet...I have plenty...all written down and saved to flash drives.  Yes, I am that anal-retentive.

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End Note:  This is important stuff.  If it pleases you, do laugh, guffaw, snicker, ridicule or whatever else you want related to this posting.  But with all the seriousness that I can muster, please do also talk to your loved one(s) about this topic...not for you, but for them.  Make their job easier when your time comes.  It matters, a lot.

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