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Our last gift to him

By Erika
Posted on

I had the conversation with my family members.

Inevitably, the families who had prepared and had conversations about final wishes were much more at ease and content with their decisions during the funeral and burial.
 I grew up in a home where discussing final wishes and death was a normal occurrence. It seems so odd to me that it isn’t for so many families. The reason: my grandfather was the cemetery director in the town where we lived. He saw many, many deaths. Inevitably, the families who had prepared and had conversations about final wishes were much more at ease and content with their decisions during the funeral and burial. He saw a great deal of anguish and pain in the families who had not prepared. Many of these families were plagued by doubt, arguments and conflict. This was NOT what he wanted his family to go through when he died, so my grandfather made his final wishes very well known to the whole family. My grandmother and parents followed his lead. When my grandparents died, knowing their final wishes made their passing just a bit easier. I have had several conversations with my parents about their final wishes and know exactly what they want. It will be one less thing that I have to worry about or make a decision about when they die.

Interestingly, I married into a family where having these conversations was also normal. My in-laws were very practical people and saw no reason why death shouldn’t be discussed. My father-in-law had also worked in a cemetery for a while, so again the family was comfortable with death. Because of his work in the cemetery, my in-laws had an opportunity to purchase a lot and stone at a low price. Occasionally, we would visit other friends and relatives at the cemetery and my father-in-law would check on his own stone and grave lot. Sometimes, he would lay down in front of the stone to make sure he still fit!

When my mother-in-law finally became so ill that she entered hospice care, we had the local funeral home director come to the house and she planned out her funeral and burial. My father-in-law liked everything she had arranged, and said he wanted the same thing! She died shortly later while in rehab. My father-in-law passed away 6 months later. We followed their last wishes exactly. In a way, it was our last gift to them.

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