Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One Week

It will be one week tomorrow. My mother-in-law found my father-in-law out in the flower bed. Passed out face down in the lillies. Apparently a heart attack. She and a friend attempted to move him but both were too small and weak to do so. They called 911 and he was taken to the hospital but did not make it.

This was 2 days before his 81rst birthday. The funeral plans were put into motion quickly so that it could take place on that 81rst birthday. All 3 children and their spouses and the 8 grandchildren were there. Along with lifelong friends and co-workers and extended family.

He was a gentle soul who didn't speak much but smiled at everyone. He was a brilliant scientist who made pharmacy his career. For many in his community, he was their "doctor." He stayed married to his wife until "death they did part." He was a wonderful man and an even better father....and a kind and loving grandfather. He was an unselfish human. Most of all he was a Christian.

The most unselfish thing he did was plan his funeral service on paper. He wrote down the scriptures he wanted read and the hymns he wanted sung and had purchased the plot in the cemetary. He even included a wallet size picture of him and his wife to be put into his breast pocket before the casket was closed.

I have thought alot about my father-in-law these past few days. I am glad he was outside in his yard when he died....working in his garden and flower beds....something he enjoyed doing. I am glad he went fast and didn't suffer. I am glad he isn't laying in a hospital bed connected to tubes that keep him alive but with a damaged brain. I am glad my children had him as long as they did (24, 22, and 19 years). I am glad my husband is so much like him....even the quiet part that drives me crazy sometimes. I am glad to have heard his favorite scriptures and hymns. It gave me comfort to hear them through "his ears."

And I am glad that we were able to be there for his birthday.

Here's the deal. None of us are getting out of here alive. All of us will go one day. You. Me.

And I know that is hard to deal with, talk about, plan for. Our human brains aren't wired to deal with that. Our faith tries to prepare us....but talk out loud? Hardly.

But surely you can begin to think about what you want the day of your funeral to look like? To sound like? To feel like? I challenge you and myself to make a list. And add to it now and then. And keep it in a safe place where at least 2 family members can find it. I am not talking about a will....although that is extremely important. I am talking about your service.

Because it is the most unselfish thing you can do. And it is not a jinx.

For the record, I have brought this up a time or two with my husband......and he squirms and changes the subject and the channel on the t.v. But it's on my list of things to do. And I hope you think about it, too.

Sorry to be a downer....but really we're all in this together.


  1. My sympathies for the loss of your husbands father and your FIL. I am with you, sister about planning. Its "magical thinking" to think its a jinx. As a person who had to plan 2 on the fly and in the dark - it is a very kind thing to do. I used to joke I got nervous in winter, when it was rainy - that's the day for my funeral. But I'm thinking this kind of spring weather is just when I want to go!

  2. I don't think this is a downer at all. I think it's wonderful! I think he was a very smart man and it makes such sense to do that. And I would love to go just like he did although I would prefer to leave this earth falling in the peonies. His life sounds like one to be celebrated.

  3. My sympathies to your family, too. Beautiful post, Julia. And, yes, planning for your funeral is a gift to your loved ones.

  4. This is so true. I am getting ready to celebrate my second mothers day since my mom joined my dad in heaven. We had a little time to prepare for her death and together with my siblings we did everything she wanted and celebrated her life and the legacy she left us and her grandchildren and great grandchildren. I have started putting my wishes on paper so my family won't have to wonder what I would have wanted.

  5. For anyone who has had to plan a funeral, they know that is not the time you are thinking clearly. Having your wishes put on paper is a blessing.I think it also makes the difficult day easier to go through knowing you are following their wishes. My sympathies go out to all of you.

  6. Loved your heart filled advice. I went to a funeral last summer of my children's babysitter. We thought of her as part of our family. A few days before her death age 95, she called her pastor and told him exactly how it was to be. Despite my sadness, I left there feeling like I had been with her. You are so right about the planning.

  7. You are so right; you can really tell when the person or the family has planned the funeral. Even though your family knows you well it's still like trying to get your husband to buy you jewelry you like. I need to write it down, quickly, before Paul gets involved! What a sweet post. I'm sure loosing someone so suddenly is very hard but I'd like to order that one too. He knew how much he was loved, he was blessed and a blessing.