Grandparents? Parents? Kids? Grandkids? Husbands? Wives? Brothers? Sisters? Friends? A fiance? What kind of question is that? “Who should die first?” How can any sane person answer such a question?
When you work in the death care industry, and you meet with survivors on a daily basis, it is not uncommon to hear someone say that it should have been them that died instead of ___________. You can fill in the blank with any one of the relationships mentioned above and be confident that you would be right more often than wrong as regards to survivors’ sentiments immediately following a death.
Think of the important people in your own life. If you or your child had to die, and it was your decision as to which of you were the one in tomorrow’s obits, most parents would volunteer themselves rather than let their child pass away. Ask the child and you may get a completely different answer.
Death. So final, so devastating, so painful, so numbing. Death. No sane person wants to die. Such a small word for such a life-changing event. But every day…no, every second of every day, people die. Repeat the litany … grandparents, parents, moms, dads, kids, cousins, friends … every day people come into the world and every day people leave. Yet, somehow, we read of the death of a kid on a motorbike, a drowning, murder, simple falls, illness and in every case the cause of death is exactly the same – the stopping of the heart. What makes the front page of newspapers is whatever it was that made the heart stop beating.
Lets face it, when the national audience spent 3-4 weeks of their lives recently watching the trial of a mother who allegedly killed her daughter, we sat in front of our TV’s and computer screens and I-phones, eating chips and salads and acted as though the death of a child was entertainment. Tragic, horrific – yes! But we went about our daily lives without truly absorbing the meaning of this loss to the world. A child was murdered, and along with her went the hopes and dreams of so many people in her life.
When the World Trade Center Towers fell, we were mesmerized as a nation, but still caught our favorite TV shows within a week. In fact, I remember very clearly leaving work at mid-day on what has become known as 9/11 to check up on some special people in my life.
Many people hugged their wives and kids and parents and for a period truly saw the importance of people in their lives rather than things. The fact is we were made to face losses and be able to go on. For some, their emotional make-up lets them accept and move on while others cling to the life that was taken away and deny, for a while at least, their new reality.
I have seen families torn apart when a death occurs. I have sat with kids (kids of all ages) across a table who were left with making final arrangements for a parent. Each has had a different opinion of how things should be handled, and each has had a different perspective on the money side of things. Some wanted to inherit more so they fought to spend less of mom or dad’s assets on a proper burial, while others wanted to be sure to handle things with dignity, respect, love and honor and to hell with the cost.
A funeral director or a family service counselor spends every day meeting with people who utter those sad words of “it should have been me” or “she died so young” or “it was so unexpected” and on and on and on ….. Oddly, we all know, intellectually, that our day will come. We don’t know when, where, or how, but we know. Most of us do not want to even contemplate our own mortality or the possibility that someone important to us will stop breathing one day. It is because of this that decisions about pre-planning our own funerals, or even discussing what we may want to happen at our funerals, is tucked back in the deep recesses of our minds. Yes, we will have to do something some day, but we have lots of time, don’t we?
Or do we? Look at the obituary pages for a week. Look at just the ages that you will find for those who have passed away. Death has no respect for age, or race or religion or any other tag word that I could put at the end of this post. Death will come to us all. You don’t need me to tell you this fact. What I can tell you…or more politely, what I can ask you is this: call a funeral director and a cemeterian as soon as you can and get some information about all that is involved with making final arrangements. Maybe a better first step would be to talk to a friend or a family member who has had to make arrangements for someone they loved. Find out what it was like…how they felt…all that had to be done and how much it costs to die.
Then, call us. We will answer all of your questions and leave your decisions up to you. But, and only you can answer this one, “Do you think it would be better for you and your loved ones for you to be in control of what you want your funeral to look like, and how much should be spent, or do you think it is better to leave it up to a stranger?” When you wait, you are leaving so much to your funeral director or your cemetery family service counselor. For the most part, these people care, and truly want to be of the best possible service to you. But that does not make them friend or family, does it?
Just this afternoon, a daughter was in making plans for her mother’s funeral. As I was leaving the room to handle some paperwork, I overheard her tell her friend who came in with her that she is going to come back in soon to make her own plans because she said it felt too much like a business transaction…making her mother’s plans. It can seem that way when everything has to be done immediately following a death. It is absolutely not fair, but more people wait than prearrange. Sad, but true…fair or not.
Fortunately, anyone able to read this post is also able to make their own decisions…about deciding to call or not to call. If you wish to call, our number is 219-769-8803. Regardless of your seeking a proper education in such an important matter or not, the good news is that you will not be involved in who should die first. That is left to the hands of fate, or God or the universe or whomever it is that you believe in that is greater than yourself. I prefer God, but that’s just me.
You can find more information about pre-needing along with many related topics by reading some of the other posts in this blog, and by going to our website at calumetparkcemetery.com