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She Says: We should plan our funeral

John and I should really plan our funerals and let our children know what our end-of-life directives are. However, he refuses to discuss it, or anything related to death. It’s as if he thinks he’ll never die!

He says: She’s being morbid

Listen, I know we’re all going to die, but I think it’s morbid to focus on it. Once we’re gone, we won’t care anyway, so why do we need to plan it all out? I wish Elaine would just let this drop.

What do they do?

John’s reluctance is  only human. Even if we can mentally accept the fact of our eventual death, our flesh and our imaginations still naturally recoil from it. We just don’t want to think about it, let alone plan for it.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, and it shouldn’t be. For the Christian, death contains a positive meaning. Indeed “the Christian can experience a desire for death like St. Paul’s: ‘My desire is to depart and be with Christ.’” (CCC 1010)

John and Elaine’s first step should be to pray – on their own and together – for a more peaceful, hopeful and faith-filled attitude about their ultimate destiny with God, and one another, in heaven.

But even if we can accept death and, in a proper sense, desire it, isn’t there still something a bit unseemly about making our own funeral arrangements? On the contrary, it’s a thoughtful and responsible thing to do. Most people want to leave their survivors with only good things, including not only bequests but also happy memories, including the last: an orderly state of their affairs.

Moreover, don’t be so sure, John, that once you’ve crossed over to the other side you won’t care about what you left your survivors to deal with. God will judge our lives primarily on how much (or how little) we loved others (CCC 1022), and planning our funeral and cemetery services in advance is a loving thing to do. How so?  

Those who provide these services regularly hear comments like these from family members upon discovering that the details for their deceased loved ones were pre-arranged: “You mean, everything’s really taken care of?” “There’s no balance due?” “What a blessing.”

Indeed, it’s not uncommon for surviving family members, in the midst of their grief, to be so overwhelmed with gratitude that they were spared having to make funeral decisions, let alone pay for them, that they decide to do the same for their own children and family members.

Isn’t that the kind of legacy you want to leave?