This is not a downer post—trust me—but…have you ever thought about your own funeral? How you might want it to go…what songs to have played…maybe favorite Bible verses or quotes…or perhaps final words you might want to impart?
Recently my husband shared with me that an old friend of his just went through the death of her mother. What her mom planned was, well…stick with me.
Having personally been through the planning process for a loved one where nothing was planned—and therefore that much harder—I must admit I do have a folder labeled “death planning” in my file cabinet. It’s nothing too crazy, just a place where I might put a song or idea in order to help those who have to plan my funeral know what I would like. While it may sound morbid, it’s really a loving act for those left behind.
Now, the mom of my husband’s friend took it one step further. Well…maybe several steps. I will refer to her as Pearl because I think she is quite a gem. She decided that she wanted to put a little spin on her life and spice it up a bit, and she was very specific in her design of it. Pearl crafted her obituary to include an imaginary Latin lover as her “lifelong companion.”
It was like the George Glass to beat all George Glasses. (You absolutely should get this reference, but in case you don’t…Brady Bunch…Jan’s made-up boyfriend. Sigh. I shouldn’t have to tell you these things, people.)
While some in her family were mortified (pun intended), Pearl’s daughter (my husband’s friend) was her accomplice and thought the idea was hysterical. During the wake, word had it that the gentleman was there, but…he was always in another room. Even the priest was in on it and mentioned the man in his eulogy.
As you might imagine, this put quite a twist on the mood of the event. According to what my husband’s friend told him, it was the talk of the wake, and there was much laughter for those who knew the truth.
I love that Pearl knew how she wanted her time of remembrance spent. You might feel that it is inappropriate, but…I think it’s a riot. In a way, she shares the same sentiment as Christina Rossetti’s poem “Remember” (which may or may not be in my death planning folder):
Remember me when I am gone away,
… Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
… Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Clearly, Pearl knew how she wanted to be remembered, and it wasn’t with tears and sadness, but with mystery and amusement.
She had the last word.
And what a word it was. What she left behind, after a life well-lived, was an unforgettable story for her loved ones to retell and laugh at all over again. What a gift…and what a telling example of the spirit in which she lived her life.
I don’t know what my “last word” will be or if I’ll even have one, but if I do, I hope that it reminds loved ones and friends not to mourn but to rejoice that I have gone Home…and even better if I can do so and leave them smiling or laughing in remembrance.
I didn’t know Pearl, but I wish I had. She really knew how to throw a party.