Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Taking Care Of Business No. 2


















Nathan is watching me climb out of a town car limousine at 1:00 on a Friday afternoon. He says ‘Who the heck dropped you off Mom?’ I tell him Lynette from Desjardins (the funeral home). He laughs and says ‘Oh God.’

Anyway, Friday afternoon I spent at Desjardins Funeral Home. I am always fine-tuning my funeral arrangements so that it will be less work for my family when the time comes.

This is my third time going as I went in May last year. I plan on making this an annual event just to fine-tune and also to get use to the place. The first year I went I felt choked, the second year it felt more like business and this year it felt like I was just renegotiating what I want in my living room with an interior decorator.

Although it is Nadalene who originally wanted me to set up my funeral, I really feel now that everyone should do it and honestly it is just something that needs to be done.

The funny thing is that the more I go and the more I know, the more I realize I can more or less do what I want. I also feel that at the time of my death Lynette will see me as a person not just a body.

I will share with you what went down this year.

Lynette and I go over all the details of what I want and switch up a few little things here and there. I tell her that I have bought a cemetery plot at St. Boniface Catholic Cemetery on Archibald and give her all the details. Tell her that I have also prepaid for the opening and closing of the plot.

We talk a little more about the urns and I tell her I want to check out the new ones they have this year as I am looking more for a box type.

We go down to the casket room again and I honestly don’t know why they have the caskets so crowded in that room. They are jam-packed with their quilted lining that gives me the creeps. I ask her if they have samples of the cardboard box that I want for cremation and she says no, just the wooden one for $740. The one I want is $15 and she tells me that it just is really a long cardboard box that looks similar to what a fridge would come in. I ask her if it has Kenmore stamped on the side and we both laugh.

The first year I thought I would want a niche in the wall and was told I couldn’t have a wooden urn because they dissolve and the cemetery doesn’t allow that. Last year I thought I would want a bio-degradable urn, but this year I decided against the bio-degradable as it looks like a white cotton cardboard box that you would take leftovers in from a restaurant and I don’t want that sitting in the church. It looks cheap when really it is more expensive than the wooden urns. I did like one wooden urn but am thinking I want to talk to the cemetery place and see if I just can’t have a nice wooden box that isn’t $500. I prefer what Karin made for her companion Zach.

I really like the idea of dust to dust; ashes to ashes.

I am only there for about an hour.

Costs of a funeral:

Arrangements: $840 (2007); $940 (2008 and 2009)

Transfer of body from hospital: $215 (2007); $265 (2008 and 2009)

Staff (four people): $495 (2007, 2008, and 2009)

Preparation for identification: $220 (2007 and 2008); $395 (2009). I ask why such a big hike and the answer was so lame that I don’t even remember it.

Basic facility: $295 (2007); $195 (2008 and 2009)

Cremation fee: $460 (2007); $485 (2008); $495 (2009)

Lead car (for priest, flowers, urn, etc): $125 (2007, 2008, 2009)

Limousine for family: $225 (2007, 2008, 2009)

Casket for cremation: $760 pressed board (2007); $15 for cardboard (2008 and 2009)

Urn: $760 for pewter (2007); $435 for bio-degradable (2008); $415 for wooden urn (2009)

*Memorial cards: $1.75 per card (2007 and 2008); $2.00 per card (2009) $600

Guest book, 50 thank you cards, and crucifix: $195 now no longer want from Desjardins and will buy on our own.

Luncheon sandwiches: $10 per person ($3,000) now no longer want from Desjardins, Mickey will get from that place in Steinbach.

Luncheon tea and coffee: $1.50 per person then $1.75 per person ($425) now no longer want from Desjardins, Mickey will get from that place in Steinbach.

Two hostesses: $250 now no longer want from Desjardins, Mickey will get from that place in Steinbach.

*Based on 300 people.

The funeral based on around 300 people attending would be about $4,165. Not including taxes, church costs, priest, death certificates, food and catering, other papers needed or cemetery costs.

After the meeting I ask Lynette to use the phone and she asks me if I am phoning to be picked up. When I tell her yes, she tells me she is going right by my place and can drop me off.

Just before exiting she tells me how great it is to see me again and how she is happy when she sees me. I tell her that I like to see her too, but hopefully if I see her before next year it will be socially and not business.

Some things I still know for sure:

Do not want to die at home.
Cremation cardboard box of $15 (do not upgrade this).
No public viewing.
Full Catholic Mass at Holy Family Church (incense and holy water).

I wrote this a week before Sheldon died; little did I know that I would be seeing Lynette again nine days later with Ben and Jennifer.

80 comments:

Angela Recada said...

Good morning, dear Renee,

Funerals certainly are a big business. A lot like weddings. They mess with your emotions.

My Grandmother (who lived to be 96) saved and planned for her own funeral for well over 30 years. I have told my family that I want a simple cremation, or I'll come back to haunt them.
:0)
My kids have teased me that they'll just have a big bonfire outside, somewhere beautiful. Sounds good to me. As long as they play all my favorite music and dance until dawn.
:0)
Love you lots, dear one,
xoxoxo
Angela

Artistic Accents by Darla said...

This makes me sad, but I know it's reality and something I would do too!
I'm going to be cremated also because I just don't know what my boys would bring for clothes to the funeral home. I work at a bean plant (dress very casual daily!) and IF they found a nice dress in my closet it would be 15 years old :)

Thanks for sharing this with us Renee! It's hard to comprehend, but once again you are teaching us. Bless you!!

Love, Darla

Diva Kreszl said...

Well you certainly have given this alot of thought. I have to admit I haven't thought about it since my Mom passed away 12 years ago and we were dealing with her arrangements. At the time I joked about what to do with my ashes, my husband suggested the rose garden since I loved it so much. I told him not there since when the house was someday sold he'd be leaving me behind. I wanted an urn, but not sure if I'd be happy with the same one for eternity...I constantly redecorate so I thought I might need something that could be changed with the seasons. Then I got to thinking about whether or not my sons would want a part of my ashes so I finally decided I should go with smaller party favor size ash containers and that way everyone could have a part of me when I'm gone! Seriously though, while I commend your efforts at being prepared...don't forget to live in the present!!!

glorv1 said...

Morning Sunshine! My husband and I have our plots all picked out. This year is the year for paying for our cremations and hopefully we will get it done before the year is out. I need to find a place and make arrangements. We have our plots next to where my mom will go and my son David's plot is there too. My other son Val is at the San Joaquin National Memorial where all our military are. I hope your sister is doing a little better. I love this world and I'm trying to live every moment. All of us just don't know. Enjoy life Renee, do things you want to do, Now, not later. Always thinking of you. Your friend, gloria

pRiyA said...

Yes, it is business isn't it. Very matter of fact stuff that we all have to deal with. This is the first time I've read about it sans the melodrama its usually associated with . It's an attitude that I think I'd like to have.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Renee: This is so you - making sure everything is done so as not to burden your family any further. Really such an act of love to take care of business in this way.

Sobering.

soulbrush said...

gasp. my son who is 38 has organised his funeral too...i haven't even thought of mine, don't know if i can yet. sigh and gasp.

Bella Sinclair said...

Darling, please give yourself a little more credit. The side of the box should at least be stamped 'Sub-Zero'.

My husband's cremation was a very interesting one, following Japanese custom. I didn't have the heart to bury them, so he is still with me.

Deborah said...

Top of the morning to you, Lovee! I so appreciate you writing this each year. Something we should all be doing. I think it helps the family to understand that death is a part of life...unnatural for the young though. But should we be blessed with a long life like my parents and Gary's Mom, I want my children to know that I will go Home happily, and that's it's okay. Yes, yes, Catholic funeral mass, cremation, and spread me in my beloved garden, for I am an organic gardener! **kisskiss** Deb

Elizabeth said...

Whew. This is some wild post. Have you ever read Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying?" Renee, I hope your arrangements become obsolete because you live to be a hundred.

Love you...

Inner Toddler said...

you know my mom and I still have a fairly regular conversation about who's coming to our funerals. It's a little twisted. But we laugh about people we've lost touch with and sign about who would speak. It's oddly a comforting way to deal with immortality. We joke (it's so sick renee, but you will laugh) about who will do her eulogy since she gives the best one in town. She might pre-record...

They should stamp bosch on the side of the box. A little fancier than kenmore...

lots of love to you.
susie

Sarah said...

Good morning hon...wowowowow OMG it's like a wedding - where do they come up with some of theses charges?? I will have to say that I am deeply impressed that you have done this - says so very much about your sweet heart hon - getting it all done ahead of time - whenever that is. The later the better! I guess it was better that you did it before Sheldon passed hon. I loved his obituary and the picture of him was wonderful!! Oy..I didn't have to deal with my parents details - I was young and spouses did that. Wow I am still in shock at the cost!
For me - I hope and pray that this event is later - much later hon!!
Hugs and love to you, Sarah

karen gerstenberger said...

You are so smart (and thoughtful)to take care of this yourself. It must be very, very hard to do it the first time you go there.
I could write an entire posting about this. When we knew we were going to need the funeral home, the owner came to our house with his catalog. Katie was in her room upstairs, but was not part of this discussion. The catalog had all of the ornate caskets, from most expensive on down to the minimal ones, and Gregg immediately flipped to the very back of the book, to find exactly what you described: the cardboard box for cremation. (I agree about the fancy caskets; they give me the creeps, too.) We chose the biodegradeable "urns" for scattering her ashes on the water. (You know that now, I have a wooden box and a small metal heart, too.) It's still surreal to write about it.
When Katie passed, hospice made the call, and the funeral man came back with his white van, and waited patiently until we were able to let her go. He is a really nice guy.
The best part of all of this is that Katie DID tell us what she wanted for her celebration of life. It was perfectly in character, and we did it for her. That gives me comfort.
You, making specific arrangements ahead of time, means that when the family has to do this difficult task, they will have the comfort of knowing that it is something they are doing for YOU, the way you want it. I wish everyone would be so thoughtful as you are, Renee, but I am sorry that these days have been so full of this kind of "business." XO

lakeviewer said...

Well, Renee, you are sober and objective about these dealings. It's good to know these things, and good to have your wishes set out front. We don't want to think about this though. No. We want to switch off right now, and go to Disneyland. Yes, let's.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

You are wise to prearrange everything. I'm starting to think about doing likewise, but haven't actually taken the first step yet.

♥ Braja said...

What a business....

Thank God I'm in India:

Cremation down at the river Ganges, 100m from my home: approx Rs 2000 (USD50).
Feast for the village, visitors, family: Rs 25,000 (USD500)

Simple.

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

One of the hardest things to do is pre-plan our funeral. You are a wise woman to do so as many people get caught up in everything going on at the time. I am with you on ashes to ashes and dust to dust. It has been that way through time and written as such. I still can't believe the sky rocketing charge of funerals and imagine that it will be only higher in the years to come. I did have a good chuckle about the Kenmore on the side of the box! Your spirit is what will live on...

Tessa said...

Renee - woman of extraordinary sense and sensibilities. (That ‘Kenmore’ comment made me splutter….hootin’!) I’ve also made plans, copies of which are with my solicitor, with Guy and with Georgina. I want to be taken home in a beautiful Cape Oak box which used to contain some vintage wine that my father gave me for a birthday present once. In Cape Town, I want a huge beach party (at our place near Langebaan) to be organised for all our friends and family and then I want to be taken to the vineyards near where I grew up and have my ashes thrown to the wind (hopefully I’ll fertilize a vine or two or three on the way) within sight of the mountains and the sea. Very satisfying plan to have planned, methinks.

Micki said...

A friend of ours who had a heart defect had his funeral all planned out before he died too, the whole day was very emotional, he was only in his 20's but knew exactly what he wanted.

As for me I say burn me, then throw me in the sea, no plot, no headstone, no prayers, nuff said ;)

Only my hubby would respect my wishes, the rest of my family would want the whole sheebang, *sigh*

Micki x

Sassy Scribbles said...

my dear Renee, now I'm choking. ^^

Isabel said...

It is not an easy subject, but honestly it is one all of us should think about as we will be there sooner or later.

I think I told you how I feel about this subject before, especially after my grandfather took care of all his funeral arrangements to free the family to celebrate his life and not having to worry about anything else. In a sense, what you are doing is an act of love, my dear.

http://a-room-of-one-s-own.blogspot.com/2007/11/mortality-vs-immortality.html

You are a beautiful Warrior of Light

xox

Isabel

Marion said...

Mon Dieu! I can't afford to die, even with cremation! I admire your practical nature, Renee. You're so good. I want my ashes to be scattered, not put in a box or urn for someone to cry over because I'll be long gone, to that great library in the sky... I've made my daughters and husband promise if I go first that they'll take a road trip and sprinkle my ashes (along with my 20 year old cat's ashes) in librairies and book stores (independent if possible) around the country. And I want some put in their flower gardens so I can become a flower, hopefully a rose.

Love and Hugs, dearest friend! Blessings!

Miss Becky said...

wow, at first I thought this post was a bit shocking. I haven't had to deal with any of this since my father died 14 years ago. That was such a trauma that I put it all away for another day. My mother is 83 and I wish she would deal with some of this but she won't. Different generation and besides, I don't know that I will out-live her. I don't even want a funeral or any gathering,just the disposal of the physical by cremation. Done, that's it. If I can't go to the party, there won't be one. I don't like it at all that you are in a position to be doing these sorts of things, but I do love the manner in which you are doing them. Peace be with you and soul hugs :)

sinnlighet said...

Godevening my friend.... eller godkväll min vän!! Idag orkar jag inte läsa hela Din text, men jag tänkte försöka lära Dig lite svenska!!

Agneta o;))

turquoise cro said...

$1.75 for a memorial card??!!!Phew! I think that is high! I keep telling my mom we have to go back too to make permanent arrangements for her and dad and I know I should too!for my hubby and I! I want it all taken care of! for the sake of my children! We do have the plots, as a matter of fact, at 2 locations! hehe City or Country?!! That's been a theme of my married life, live in the country, live in the city, back to the country, back to the city until finally here in the city where it is like country with all the wild life roaming around eating my flowers! UG! LOL

clairedulalune said...

Hello Renee, I am so sorry to hear you met Lynette so much sooner than expected. You are a very thoughtful person with taking care of business for your family. ((Big Hugs))

Julie said...

Wow, this was very educational! I also wish to get cremated, and man, I ROFL'ed at your Maytag comment. At that point, I figure I wouldn't care too much if they actually did put me in some used refrigerator box.

*jean* said...

dear renee - i applaud your courage in talking about the things we never want to talk about in our society...thank you so much for your candidness, i so admire that....

it makes me want to start a journal for my own...

*jean***

Silke said...

Dear Renee, what a great and unusual post! I have known a few people who have made their own funeral arrangements and it really needs to be something we all do at some point. Daniel and I have specified what we want in our wills, but haven't made any actual arrangements. Anyway, I found your post quite inspiring! So sorry though you needed to make arrangements for your sweet nephew as well! Sending lots of love!! Silke

secret agent woman said...

I recently re-did my will, so it's something I've given some thought to, but I guess less about the actual funeral. Just verbally - ashes scattered somewhere peaceful. You know, there is a Buddhist practice of sitting in meditation at a charnal yard, comig face to face in a very powerful way with mortailty. I wonder if re-visting the funeral home is a variant of that. And also a chance to then re-focus on life.

Marie S said...

You are forever the realist. Thank you for sharing your procedure and thoughts on this. Something everyone tends to ignore
Cremation and spread wherever it gives my family peace, is what I want for me.
"Dont cry because I'm gone. Smile for the times we had."
I love you my pretty!

Michelle said...

I wish mum would do this.....xxx

studio lolo said...

It's amazing to me how many people don't plan for this and leave family members scrambling and going into debt on top of their grief. Geuss what? That includes me. What a moron! I really need to do this with Brian.
You can bet everyone knows what I want for my animals should I die though.
Priorities ;P

love you raven sister,
xoxo
Lolo

P.S. Kenmore made me chuckle too!

yoborobo said...

Oh, the business of death. I wish I could have an orthodox Jewish funeral, buried in a wooden box as is. Alas, I am not Jewish. :) I completely understand you wanting to have this all arranged now, and to have it exactly as you wish it to be. Of course, I want you here, with all of us, for years and years. :) When my time comes, I don't give a wit what they do with me, but I know, from experience, that great comfort comes to those who are left, when things are all arranged. Love to you, my friend. Sending you a hummingbird - xoxox Pam

Baino said...

You're so organised! I always said I would plan my own. I have left some 'instructions' and we do have a family 'plot' that nobody visits (not even me) but I'm not sure I'd have the courage to go into a funeral parlour and actually do the business end. I've organised a few for family members too, that was hard enough. Andif 300 people turned up to my funeral I'd be suspicious that 2/3 were just there for the sandwiches! I know, I make light of a serious subject but that's because it's too hard to bear otherwise.

Ces said...

All I want is to make sure I have underwear! I have to have underwear and my make-up and lipstick are not caked-on and I want to wear starched white cotton mayfair tailored pajamas. Also put a pair of walking loafers by the side of my feet with white ankle socks and I want my favorite leather bound book and my reading glasses, my signature brush, and a pigment pen and the letter that I have written for this day and the pocket drawing I have done and also intended for this day. Then cremate me with all of these things and scatter my ashes around my parents' graves.

Linda Sue said...

My parents did this sort of thing while we were all under the same roof - it never happened the way they intended and were creamated- far from "home", the plotsleft empty but the jar on my china hutch full...I have plans too- I think that I would like very much to blow up in a plane on my way home from the best holiday I ever had! That's my plan- want to join me?

The Undertaker said...

I commend you for taking care of business. There is alot of detail that goes into planning and arranging a funeral. When I met with people planning their own funeral it was a powerful and courageous feat. It was almost as if instantly I was their best friend. Very moving...

Your family and friends will be remembering you in your own light. Beautiful. thank you for sharing.

Daria said...

Renee, thank you so much for this post ... it's such a difficult subject. I have made many attempts to start the planning process but keep failing.

I admire your strength and courage.

Pattee said...

I really understand the purpose of getting you're life in order. I've started to do that also.

As much as I hated reading this post because it was so honest and well facing the truth about your death... which I don't like to think about.

I've told my family I wanted my ashes spread across a special place to me in Montana... and they can keep some if they'd like. (Not sure about that now) Also I want a life celebration! Laughing stories drinking and dancing,eating and a celebration!

I hate to say this but the urns my pets ashes are in are beautiful!
Much love~Pattee

Manon Doyle said...

Hey Renee,

Ya.... I don't really like this either but my parents have done this also. It kind of freaks me out but I understand.
I don't want a viewing either..... actually.... i'd like a big party where everyone gets up and says a nice word and does a shot of tequila .... or whatever. That would be perfect!

love,
manon
xo

Dede said...

Renee you are such a wonderful person to take care of all of this. I too have mine planned. However, hubby will not talk about it. Makes me so upset. I do not want to put my family and friends through doing all of this for me. They will have enough to deal with. You are an awesome lady!
(((HUGS)))

Sonia ;) said...

Lovey...

My Dad the year before he died had bought prepaid cremation arrangements. Little did we know we would use it a year later. But my Dad made his own cremation hardwood box for his ashes. His ashes are now in Va with my mom. I want simple, cremation and ashes planted with a tree (magnolia, or weeping willow). I used to want open casket by invite only and have during the ceremony have my hand or leg pop up and scare the shit out of everyone...My parents were horrified...That was till a few years ago...Maybe I will have nana put my ashes in some paint and paint a picture with me in the paint...How cool would that be...ya ya..Oh have to tell nana(sheeanna)///She and gf buying a home...and we both going to be working from home by next week. Because of her asthma, ibs, and depression be easier. And me because of muscle soreness..more freedom to move around...alot going on here in Tx....

Love ya Lovey xoxoxoxo

Rusted Wings said...

Renee...you never cease to amaze me!! And you've got me thinking of how wise it is to lay some plans down, and ways to keep it all simple. What ever happened to the family farm, and gathering place under the big sycamore on the hill....resting in the ground with a few seeds in your hands? or a beautiful urn, like on 'chocolat' made by a potter friend?
every now and then i hear a song and say...remember to play this at my funeral....but then i forget the song, and keep trying to keep up with life. but i'm going to start writing some things down....one never knows....and it's best to not leave so much to the family to figure out...
you are wise, and so full of life's beauty, and the love that endures forever!!!
blessing of health to you always!!
XO abigail

Carrie @ Cottage Cozy said...

You are very brave and totally inspiring! Thanks for making something that seems so unnatural and weird seem so natural and necessary! You're awesome!

Fondly, Carrie

yoborobo said...

I'm headed off to bed, and I wanted say goodnight, and that I wish the world was different, and we never had to think about the things we do. You are a wonderful teacher, you know that? I am so grateful to know you. xoxo Pam

Diana Evans said...

Hi Renee....I am so sad when I read this....but then I remembered a few weeks ago we were at a family dinner and I just blurted out that I need to find a stone carver to make my tombstone....they all looked at me like I was crazy....but I was serious....I said I need a cupcake tombstone carved and engraved with ...what a sweet life....

they all laughed ...but I was serious....

anyway...I just wanted to share in a laugh with you....since you really made me sad with this post....but I am here for you.....I do agree it is nice to have things prepared so family doesn't have to do much....and if you want something special done it is a given....

Hugssssssssssssss
Diana

Annie said...

I think this is a great idea for all of us, so our family does not have to deal with it, however, I have little money and paying rent right now is a struggle, so no money for funerals, but when I do I will follow your example. Sending love and hugs dear Renee.
xoxo

Woman in a Window said...

Renee, forgive me here. When I was reading this I was thinking, when I die I want a pine box. You know, old pine. Aged. An antique. I want to be buried in an antique. Not pristine. Beat to shit, please. However, I thought I wanted to be cremated so now I'm all confused. BUT, I do want a field. No building. I do not want goodbyes in a building. And I want poetry. Friends and family and strangers. And beer. Poetry and beer. And chips. And a perfect breeze, or even a wind. Fall. I want to die in fall. (Not this fall, preferably.) And I would like you to be there. Wouldn't that be cool? Let me die much much in the future and there will be wind and poetry and friends and beer and chips, lots of chips, and a pine box. You can rest your beer on my box. Oh, and guitar music. I want music. Not sad stuff. Life stuff.

I am not making fun of this at all. This is what I want. Do you understand me? Of course, you do.

I love you too Renee. You have worked your way deep into my heart.

You are teaching us all how to live.
xo
erin

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Renee,

The funeral business is a big business, and all the arrangements you need to make are one big headache, having just gone through all this with Dads funeral.
My Dad had worked everything out which was lovely, what he wanted to wear, the hymns etc. which made it a little easier for us.

It is something that is good to work out but Renee, I do hope that this will be 30 years in the future for you my dear.

Lots of love &
Hugs to you
Carolyn

kj said...

renee, i had a visceral reaction reading this. i do not want to lose you ever. i don't want to think you will need a funeral (or myself for that matter) for a long long time. my feet gripped the ground reading this post, and i stood firm that you can never be confined to a little box no matter what happens. you have a special place in my heart, that's for sure.

i was surprised you don't want to die at home. to each her own, but i do, if possible. my dad did, and it was so lovely i will never forget it.

much love,
your pal
kj babes

Sophia said...

I am blown away by your bravery and guts to talk about your own funeral. Wow. I am so not at that point yet. I still talk about "what ifs" with my current health issues, but I am definitely not as far as you.

(hugs)

Kate James said...

Oh Renee you are so thoughtful and so practical. I love it that you still make jokes at the funeral home. It's always been the place that my sister Anna and I end up getting the giggles for one silly reason or another. The more we tried to suppress it the harder we laughed.

Anna just came back from Europe where she made friends with a couple of British women who had made the trip to Rome to scatter their "Daddy's" ashes. They climbed over a fence into a forbidden area at the Colosseum to spread the contents of their little wooden box across the hill and ended up covered in ashes (and in gales of laughter) when they misjudged the direction of the wind. Sounds like the perfect send off to me! xo

Caroline said...

How practical of you Renee - to plan and shoulder the financial burden too - good for you. We should all really be more open about such plans but it's all too easy to procrastinate. Actually, the last funeral I went to was quite beautiful and made me think the ones I'd been to previously in crematoriums were so impersonal. This was held in a tiny church packed to overflowing with family, friends and colleagues - many of whom spoke a few words. The church was lit with candles and all the floral tributes were laid on the aisle behind the coffin. A soloist sang Amazing Grace from somewhere behind us and it was a perfect and really personal send off. Maybe I'll start making a few notes......

Loredana said...

Hi Renee, it was nice to see you in my blog!

This morning I got up and read your post: quite strange, but not so much out of loud.

I want to notice how different are funerals in different places of the world. I've always seen american funerals in films and found it strange, the first times found them quite crazy. I wondered myself how could you eat and talk and make a sort of party at funeral... but now I start to understand it better and find it quite a good idea.

In Italy, funerals, are so sad and empty and cold, this give to death a big sadness, bigger than how it really is.
People goes to the hospital or at home it depends on where you die, and a priest comes to pray and the close the cuffin and everybody cries because there you have to see your dear for the last time. The death is brought to the church for the mass, and to the cemetery where can be put in the ground, or in the niche or burn. A last pray, and everyone goes away. That's all. Sad don't you think?

You make me thinking a lot, I may want something different for me, something with music, something where people can think at me with no sadness. Thank-you for sharing this experience with us, you don't know how important this can be to others.

Oups! I forgot to say that I think that you are quite courageous.

Ribbon said...

Beautiful Renee you are so wise and generous.
I'm with Lakeviewer/Rosaria... let's go to Disneyland now :)

love to you xoxo

A Cuban In London said...

You know what? I read your post and had to re-read it a couple of times to let the idea sink in that you're writing about your own death. It, I don't know, takes courage to write a highly articulate and, in parts, funny column about your own demise. I commend you for it. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Debra said...

It is hard for you I am so sure, but I think it is very proactive to plan ahead like you are doing. I see now some of the differences in Canada as opposed to the U.S.
We can actually pre-pay and lock in prices here. My friends did this for thier mother. It was nice not having to worry about it. It was much less for my brother as he live in a more rural area. It is hard enough losing one you love, without the added pain of having to plan the funeral. I am so sorry that you had to go back again.
Hope you are doing better dear freind, and Jacquie. I think (and pray) about her every day.

Finding Felix said...

I think this is a great idea. Tempted to do it myself so that family and friends know what to do if they ever need to do anything without having the opportunity to discuss it with me first.
Certainly saves any doubt and indecision at a time when there are enough things for family and friends to think about... without adding the stress of the funeral.
I agree it's something you probably need to address every year or so, as tastes and attitudes and what is important changes all the time. I'm going for a cardboard box and definitely cremation.
Thinking of you often Renee. x

Ces said...

Good morning Renee. I worked with an analyst who was widowed three times and all three husbands were cremated. During the hurricane she and her friend had to evacuate, by the analyst forgot to take the urns from the closet so they had to return. She put them in the backseat of the car and so she told us that it was a different sensation having to drive with her three husbands in the backseat of her car. She is now married for the fourth time.

LDWatkins said...

We need to do this. Thank you for making it seem a business transaction, which it is, without the burden of grief. Cremation bothers me for some unknown reason. I need to sort out why. I hope you have to revise this plan for many,many years. Hugs and love to you

rochambeau said...

Dear Renee,
You are a smart cookie!

One thing I learned from my friend Sharon, after my fathers passing is that you don't need to use their boxes (at a funeral home) for ashes. You can bring any vessel you want. We buried my fathers ashes with a young tree, which is now a BIG healthy tree!

Love to you.
May you live to be a very old and healthy and FUN woman.
;-)
Constance

rochambeau said...

Would like to mention one more thing, Put it out there for your readers.
Since most people don't think about death, people who are unprepared are vulnerable to be taken advantage of financially.

Find out what loved ones want NOW TODAY!!
NO ONE says a person has to have a religious ceremony. My father didn't. We had our own celebration, which he would have most approved of. No one can make you go into debt for a fancy schmancy coffin or urn. That's why it's important to THINK now.
ASK QUESTIONS of yourself, your loved ones!!

Don't be taken advantage of! There is enough to morn in loosing a loved one without going into debt too!!!!!

xox
Love,
Constance

Nina P. said...

Being prepared is not closing doors or giving up rather it is opening windows to fly. It is lifting worries from yourself and others and oping time to life, to be to soar as long and as high as you can. No one likes making these arrangements but in doing them you are freeing those around you from worry about making sure your wishes are met. Soar my friend to the sky and beyond. Life life to it's fullest and see the beauty in all aspects of life. You've opened my eye's to things that need attending to and to realize life is so very precious and we must Live every moment as best we can. Blessings to you and yours. Love and Light, Nina P

Tammy said...

You are a very strong, special person! I'm going to be cremated too.

jacquie said...

i can not begin to tell you the gift you have given me of yourself...
for countless hours day after day and endless love you poured on sheldon on days you could barely go on.............and slso for the love and support you gave to gil, ben and jen ....especially while doing the funeral renee.....for that i am eternally grateful beyond words...my heart is full.
together strong has taken on a whole new meaning for me...
love you
jacquie

lyptis said...

Omg, what an interesting post!

I read the whole thing and i was glued to the screen.
So interesting to know all the facts and costs involved. Its good ure organizing it for urself, it must feel quite empowering to decide for urself and learn alot about the procedure so in one way it makes it more like a passing into another state of being, like organizing a journey with ur travel agent or something.

Thanks for sharing ur experience!

~* The Beldame on Peach Street *~ said...

Wow! You are so brave. Just seeing hurse gives me the willies!

My husband grew up in a church called Holy Family Catholic Church. My husband is catholic, I'm southern baptist but I go to church with him. Are you laughing yet?!

Yes I did have fun! It was a nice ego boost having folks come by and say nice things. I will need to go back to one again soon before the good feeling wears off. ;)

Hugs & Love to you!

Jamie

Yvonne Anderson said...

Renee,

We should all do this.

I was friends with someone whose husband went out one night in Melbourne for a work do and never came home after a drunk driver put him in intensive care. He had just had his lazer eye surgery a week before. I always thought that it might help him see the beauty of the world from heaven...or in his next life.

I believe we have all been here before and we'll be here again...

I'm waffling....

Love you xx

nollyposh said...

(((Hugs))) My mum has done all this too... i just wish it wasn't so expensive to die... Much cheaper to just be born again (Lol!) ... What i REALLY want they just won't do... That is, like a Viking funeral, on a ship set alite and then out to sea... sighhhh... Can't you just see the sunset X:-)

Clarity said...

Dear Renee,

The one thing that cannot be quantified is the sense of love that passes through these arrangements. Although it is none of my business I wish you wouldn't choose cremation. Your spirit is somehow too bright to leave ashes behind. I don't know how to say it, just that I wish you would whenever that far-off future point comes leave an intact body behind with a beautiful smile. This must be the strangest comment I have ever left. But I think you would understand, peace, love, x.

Brad McCall said...

Thanks for sharing your experience and the costs of "taking care of business". Very interesting. So many decisions, it's good that you make them yourself, the way you'd want. It makes it so much easier on your loved ones after you go.

All the best,
Brad

Mim said...

I think this is a very sensible thing to do, and something I should do too but haven't - mostly because I don't live near family or a family plot or any of that stuff.
Funny story - the day that DH and I were walking into a hospital for his kidney transplant (from me) he turned to me and said "you know what I want don't you?". My first thought was that he wanted a moche latte - but no...he went on about cremation. I agreed with him (who can argue in a hospital!) and said I wanted that also. He said to me "no you don't, you want to be a mummy" (yes, I was an archaeology major) and I said "well, I don't know who would do that". By this time all the people on the elevator were edging away from us. That is the closest that we have gotten to the discussion.

My sister in law left strict instructions that she didn't want a "celebration of life". She wanted a full mass, and black clothes, and weeping, wailing and knashing of teeth. So we did!

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

Renee - you are such a thoughtful person to spare your family in making all the arrangements. Your objective discussion about the options was enlightening - I guess it is not something that you usually think about or get quotes for.

Hope you are having a great week! Love your Wednesday's woman this week - Hold your head high is what I tell my daughter!

Kelly Lish said...

Renee, I love reading your blog. I love that you still have a great sense of humor. I love that death is just a natural part of life and that you treat it that way. It brought me comfort to read this last post-Taking care of business no. 2 I'm not afraid of death at all. I am actually looking forward to it. (Not in a weird, morbid way) I feel like it is just part of the circle, and it is very strange to me that us humans avoid the subject and treat it so secretly. I wish you were my "real" life friend because I would love to hug you, but I am very happy that we are "fb" friends. I think you are very strong and courageous and beautiful.
Love,
Kelly

Björnik said...

Oh my dear Renee, I admire how strong you are and personally I don't think you'll be leaving us anytime soon. That means you'll be seeing more of Lynette too.;)

I find this business very sad, why do some people want to make a living from the ones grieving. They say it will bring bad luck to the owners. I hope that you'll get these all figured out when the time comes.

Love you my dear Renee.

XOXO
Björnik

Sarah said...

It is sad to read this Renee though it yet again shows what a thoughtful person you are to be doing all this so your family will have less to worry about. Funerals here are pretty expensive too I think. It must be a strange profession to work in I think-very difficult really. Your lady that you deal with sounds very nice at least. I want a ghanaian coffin-they are in the shapes of animals and brightly painted. I think they are made of wood but it would be better to have a card version.
Here's to many more years of arranging things.
Love Sarah xx

dragonflydreamer said...

I also want to be cremated. I want my husband and sons to take me to the ocean and spend at least a weekend together remembering our life together as a family. Most people are uncomfortable with my choice. You are a very strong lady and your blog has touched me and makes me think about what is real and really matters. We all learn at a young age that our time on earth will be finite, but because we are a death denying society, we do live as though we have forever. I pray for you and your family. I always pray for a miracle. <3 and ((hugs)) to you.

Oops! Desperate Blogger~ said...

Tears here. Hoping you visit again and again and again...and only for browsing.
XO

Momo Luna said...

Strong post and a wise thing to do. I've arranged my funeral in big lines, not that very specific. I hope you have this kind of meeting for many, many years, just for arranging and not for real sad matters.

Sweet greetz and hugs for you!