Planning ahead

There’s a local TV advert encouraging people to join a saving scheme that pays for their own funeral. The argument is that one’s loved ones are then spared worry. Seems stupid to me as most funeral costs are recovered from the deceased estates. And there are much more important worries that we could alleviate by proper planning.


Most people avoid thinking about their own death but there are some, probably a growing number, who plan for it. They make their wishes known about disposal of their body (cremation, burial, organ donation, body donation), style of coffin and funeral or memorial details. They may choose specific music, readings or location. Maybe even flowers. Some go as far as writing their own obituaries or writing/recording a message for presentation at the funeral/memorial.

A recent podcast from Dr Ginger Campbell’s Books and Ideas series covers the subject. Ginger interviews Sue Bailey and Carmen Flowers, authors of the book Grave Expectations: Planning the End Like There’s No Tomorrow. Some interesting ideas come up in the interviews and the book sounds interesting. It will go on my “to read” list.

They used to say that no one can escape death and taxation. Of course those peddling supernatural ideas have found a way to exempt themselves from taxation (see How to lower taxes, Taxation offense and How we all subsidise creationists)Β  – but their attempts to avoid death are pretty far fetched.

Better to face up to it. Recognise death is a normal part of life. And to prepare for it so that our survivors can accept it positively and can be helped to deal with their natural grief.

Reminds me – I must get back to my own planning. And I must let someone know where to find those plans.

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4 responses to “Planning ahead

  1. One I’ve popped into the appropriate place is that any funeral proceedings are to be non-religious in nature.

    I’ve heard of, for example, the funeral of a scientist I knew of where the religious members of his family added more of “their” angle than those that knew what he personally liked would have been comfortable with.

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  2. The recent funeral of a close friend was a lovely experience (albeit terribly sad at the same time). One of the ways she & her family came to terms with her impending death was to plan the funeral. We carried the coffin in to the final stanzas of Smetana’s ‘Ma Vlast’ (the Moldau), & the ceremony itself was a celebration of her life & the things she’d enjoyed. Completely non-religious & a very moving & in a strange way uplifting experience.

    I want one like that! (After the medical profession has got any bits that might still be useful to them.) And cremation, thank you, followed by disposal of the crunchy bits somewhere that means something to the family.

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  3. Strangely, some of the music I would choose for my departure could be considered religious. I love Verdi’s Requiem and some of this would be appropriate.

    Mind you, Verdi was a non-theist. As was Brahms who’s German requiem is another favourite.

    But there will be none of the traditional religious rubbish.

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  4. Pachelbel’s ‘Canon’ does it for me – it’s such a celebratory piece πŸ™‚

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