WWYD..elderly parent funeral(14 Posts)
Hope I am posting in the right place and do not offend anyone. My elderly mother is becoming more and more frail and I fear for the worse. I have been thinking about planning as much as her funeral as possible beforehand as I know that when it happens I will be absolutely devastated.
My question is...what sort of funeral service can I plan when we have very little family, by that I mean myself, a silbing and two grandchildren. I know she wishes to be cremated but it's the service that will seem strange with just a handful of us there.
Hope this makes sense.
I think you might be surprised at how many people come out of the wood work for a funeral. Does she have any surviving friends?
No, she is very, very elderly almost last of her generation.
My grandmother died aged 90, we are a similar small family. Nan had survived all her siblings and other relatives were scattered/out of touch etc.
We had a burial, with a life celebrant, and tea and cakes afterwards at her house. It was a small funeral just her two dd,sil,two grandkids and two great grand kids and a couple of neighbours.
The life celebrant spoke for about 25mins, a sort of 'this is your life' type of ceremony, no hymns-not enough people to sing- but we provided a cd to play a song halfway through and at the end.
It was sad that there was not many people there, nan was vibrant,jolly, outgoing, popular and active right up until the two yrs or so before she died, but we were glad to have her around longer and thats how we looked at it.
My very recent experience... mum was cremated last friday .... has led me to realise that it will make things so much easier for family left behind if I make my wishes known asap ( prefer write it down) and make some of the decisions they may well find hard a little eaiser.
if she has told you she wants cremated then has she also said where she wants her ashes to go. Things like music ....my dD was devasted that a while back my dM had mentioned a piece of music she wanted played... but dD did not want to acknowledge the event would come and did not make note of it ... she regrets that now. It does not need to be brought up as "what do you want played at funeral" but maybe make notes of any music , poems etc she likes and would be approproate.
Also to think about is whether its a religious service or not and who would take the service. My mum was not religious but the funeral director did a lovely service and some of the family gave tributes /read poems.
We did not have a large service but ex colleagues of mums came as well as some neighbours ... as long as she has those that cared there then it does not matter the actual number.(((0)))
Most funeral directors have plans whereby you can pay for as well as plan in advance s funeral ..... I know its not a pleasant thing to think about but for sure I think that forward planning makes sense.
Other funerals we have had to organise back this is up ........ making painful decisions whilst say, having to also deal with the practicals such as house clearing, makes things even more stressful.
Thank you so much for your replies.
tazzle very sorry for your loss but thank you sharing.
iseeall your gm funeral sounds very much what I am thinking of for my dm.
It is all very sad, very stressful but I hope that making decisions now will make things earier when the time comes.
Again, thank you for taking the time to share.
My recent experience is the loss of my Grandad aged 94. Again, the last of a generation, having outlived everyone. However small we were as a family we found that his carers, neighbours etc did come along. Having cared for him myself in the summer for respite I, like you, felt preparations needed to be made. He refused to discuss it ( believed himself immortal!) but I wrote a poem for him which I then went on to read at his funeral. I was too upset when he actually died to have written that poem so I am glad I had prepared it before. We also had a lovely cream tea after at his favourite place. Sorry to ramble but I think I'm saying preparation really helped me, more people will go to a service than you think and a small funeral because of such a long life is, in many ways, something to celebrate in itself.
Well, a small turnout for a funeral isn't as bad as a small turnout for a wedding, I mean at least they aren't there to see it.
I sound flippant, but really I wonder if there are other singletons out there dread getting married as it shows up their total lack of social life.
But I digress, a small funeral can be quite nice and should there be loads of people if she didn't hang out with them in a social setting in later life anyway... I mean, what feels natural? It doesn't have to be like we see it on telly.
Figure out how much you want to cry. An odd thing to say, but you know, at one relative's funeral they had a picture of the deceased in her younger days, a black and white shot, and the tears opened up, it somehow made it seem more tragic and poignant. And we hadn't even seen her in over a decade! Some hymns could put you over the edge - Abide with Me is one - but really, do you want that?
I suppose a funeral should be like a visit to a much-loved pub or cafe, natural and unforced, and not like planning a much-anticipated holiday where it all has to be perfect and winds up getting joyless and stressful.
ProfDent, thank you for that post (only just revisited my old thread). Like the idea of it being natural and unforced, food for thought!
Op a friend of mine died last year, before he died he asked me which were good undertakers etc and went and visited and filled out a lot of the paper work and details ready for his death in the folloinng couple of months. The undertakers were very kind to him and said it is rare we meet our customers when they are still living.
When he died his wife found it a great help and comfort that he had made choices about this and that and she had little paper work to deal with.
he had choosen his coffin, which charities to make donation, which songs to be played which reading he wanted etc.
Why not visit an undertakers and aks for their advise on small funerals and if you can do a lot of the work in preparation for when the time comes as that would be of help to you.
Have you talked to her about it?
Funerals I have been to recently of very elderly and not so old have mostly been quite religious in emphasis. I disagree about photos being sad. My 91yr old neighbour had a lovely powerpoint photo album going before and after her service. It was lovely, even though it recalled her DH who died 5+ yrs ago and happy times with small kids/grandkids.
At least get your mum to talk you through her life story and the high points of it so a little talk can be given easily. I only found out a few weeks ago that my Dad was due to go into the RAF as a 15yr old school leaver.....AND his Dad had bought him a new suitcase (the things they remember!) but he never made it because war was declared and they didn't want him as he was too young to fight! THat sort of things has to be in surely?
Weather you have faith or not a funeral of a very elderly person can be a celebration of their life. Forget the curling ham sandwiches and have something that meant something to them- a carvery roast with loads of meat always made my nan happy (look how much meat... that would have fed us all!) , fish and chips or just a round of beer in the corner of their local pub! THink about them, talk about them, smile and mop the tears in equal measures.
Need to pin my parents down...
Sorry- this wont help you OP, but anyone else reading this, please talk to your parents now about what they would like. In fact, talk to your DCs when the opportunity arises about what you would like yourself. It might sound morbid, but we have all discussed burial/cremation etc and in time I will write things down. My father did this for me.
He wrote a letter about 10 years ago, like this-
I am sorry to have to write to you like this but needs must,
It went on to list his funeral arrangements, the policy number he had taken out to pay for it, the hymns, what the male voice choir should sing, church, burial plot deeds, a poem he wanted reading etc.
He signed it with his full name, not "Dad" which made me laugh as it was so like my dad to be formal. He gave it to me about 6 months before he died and it was marked "to be opened in the event of my death."
It helped so much as I did not have to do, or think, about anything, other than letting people know and set the ball rolling with the insurance policy etc.
I think I would have got things wrong without his plans to go on as i would have been doing it for me, instead of him, IYSWIM.
I'm a funeral celebrant, and once took a funeral for someone I knew well. I expected there to be about 10 people, but the crematorium was 2/3 full, a pleasant surprise for me and a comfort to his family.
Slide shows can be lovely, especially if they feature photos from the past as well as the present, and include family.
For a small service I would use the format of brief welcome and reading, music/slides, eulogy/biography, words of comfort, music, committal, final words and notification of where the wake will be held.
If you're having a cremation you are often limited to 15-20 minutes for the service anyway, especially if the crematorium is busy. If you want to ensure you have enough time either book a double slot, or choose a slot just before lunchtime (if they break for lunch - not all crems do) or at the end of the day.
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