I was pleased to see that earlier this month Professor Gerry W. Beyer at Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog posted about my book Creating Your Own Funeral or Memorial Service: A Workbook. I have written before at idealawg about the benefits for lawyers and clients of designing their own, unique end-of-life events, regardless of the designer's age or state of health. The topic is one that is close to my heart.
Why would I write a book on how to create your own going-out ritual? Too often I have seen the grieving survivors, when planning the funeral or memorial, struggle to answer this question about the deceased: "What would he/she have wanted?" That guessing often accompanies and sometimes exacerbates the pain of loss. I decided leaving behind your wishes about your event would be a gift to your friends and loved ones. And I wanted to make it easy for people to create that gift -- thus, the workbook.
As I researched and wrote the book, I realized filling out the workbook had several advantages:
- You relieve those you leave behind of many decisions during their time of grief.
- You give the bereaved the emotional satisfaction of knowing they are carrying out your wishes.
- You may open up new areas of discussion with your family.
- You are able to create an event that truly reflects your life.
- Reviewing your life for the purpose of creating the service allows you to evaluate how you want to use your future.
- And this gentle reminder of your mortality has an effect on your decisions about today.
Today, October 30, 2006, is the 7th annual Create a Great Funeral Day. While writers such as Kimberley A. Strassel call these holidays "ridiculousness" (she cited Create a Great Funeral Day as an example), I declared it so that people (at least a few) might think for a moment of the many advantages of somehow leaving their wishes about their ceremonies behind. Maybe just a scrap of paper or a letter or a conversation with someone with a good memory . . . The method does not matter; the message will.