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Content here represents the voice of SIGNATURE SUNSETS, an informational initiative designed to broaden and brighten horizons in the funerary domain.

The material is an outgrowth of a pre-planning reference book, Pondering Leaves: Composing and Conveying Your Life Story's Epilogue, written by the author of this blog.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

A CONSUMMATE PRE-PLANNER

 A “FINGER IN THE PIE”

While gathering material for the book I was writing, I spoke to a funeral director who related his vivid recollections of a pre-planned memorial affair.  Here is his story, as excerpted from Pondering Leaves:  Composing and Conveying Your Life Story’s Epilogue

A Michigan pre-planner from a conservative, religiously oriented town steeped in tradition chose to "stray from the beaten path."  Though, in deference to family needs, a church Mass preceded his social reception, he had only cared about having an elegant wine and cheese cocktail party that would mimic one he had attended for the opening of an antique shop.  With passionate zeal, this consummate gentleman, who had been reputed for his fabulous dinner parties, planned every single detail of the pre-funded event that he envisioned, including the brand of whiskey, type of mustard, and placement of design elements.  As a window dresser for a department store, he had an artistic flair that directed him toward an Asian theme, with bird of paradise floral arrangements to complement it.  He wanted all of the townsfolk to feel welcome, so when he wrote his own obituary he included an open-ended invitation to this two-hour event.  Upon his death, the funeral director used the man's handwritten notations to implement arrangements.  Though about one hundred people were expected to attend, three hundred showed up, and they had such a good time that it was in full swing for six hours.  There were no memorial tributes at this one.  It was all about an occasion graced by ambience that epitomized the spirit and the style of this individual. 

Instead of shying away from pre-emptive involvement in his own end-of-life proceedings, this man embraced an opportunity to assume the director’s role.  Rather than allowing a default mode whereby family or a funeral director would determine details for an affair, he picked up the reins by specifying precise intentions so that those folks would be able to execute them seamlessly.  And, besides enjoying a sense of control over an aspect of life generally regarded as uncontrollable, probably he had a great time throughout the decision-making process!

I bet if someone writing a book asked the man’s guests if they had ever witnessed a novel memorial affair, this one would come to minds instantly and be relayed enthusiastically.  Undoubtedly, the man is remembered for his prescient pre-planning.  

So how about you?  Can you fathom having a hand in some aspect of your final proceedings?  If you at least allow yourself to think about it, ideas may pop around in your mind like a bag full of kettle corn in a microwave.  Find your comfort zone on the notion continuum… from a single, incidental element to a broad spectrum of detailed arrangements. You’re apt to feel a sense of engagement and empowerment that may motivate you to keep thinking and notating throughout the rest of your life. And you may even discover why there’s “fun” in the word “funeral.”    
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