Decisions, decisions

I met today with a funeral director to begin the process of pre-paying for at least part of Mom’s needs after she dies. Somewhere, there is a will that states her wishes. My sister and I both recall that she wanted to be cremated. I also favor cremation in general, so that is our plan. Or at least part of the plan. There is a lot to consider, and even though I know what I think would be nice and suitable, I don’t feel it’s something I should decide on my own. Laura and Jeff should be part of the conversation. But the thing is, I’m in a hurry to spend Mom’s money. Today, in fact, was the 45-day deadline to spend down to $1,500 to determine her Medicaid eligibility. I am not there yet. But soon I will place a downpayment on Mom’s funeral expenses and pay for 14 days of assisted living for the month of August, and then she won’t have much money at all.

So once a family decides on cremation, there are other things to consider. Visitation? Memorial service? Actual funeral, with clergy present? Should Mom’s body be there or not? And will we keep her ashes in separate containers, one for each of us, so we can have a part of her with us forever? I had thought we might go that route. But I think Laura would like a burial, a permanent place to visit. That would be nice for my aunt, too. And the funeral director noted that sometimes, people take ashes to their homes, and then THEY die, and there are these loved one’s ashes left in the corner. What does one do with those? I hadn’t thought of that. I imagine funeral directors have thought of everything. And seen a lot of things.

I don’t really feel inclined to have a service for Mom. She was not a member of a local church, so I don’t think a clergy person is appropriate. I certainly don’t want to lead a service that’s more of a free for all, with people speaking one after the other. I would like visitation, or calling hours, or whatever. To have pictures all around, and classical music, and to talk with Mom’s friends in a casual atmosphere. Mom was casual. She still is casual. She liked a party. Formality wasn’t her thing. However, I am just one person. Maybe others would like something serious and formal, for reflection. Virtually everyone else who knows Mom will have spent a lot less time with her at the time that she dies than I will have spent with her. So maybe I shouldn’t decide. The same goes for whether her body is there. I tend to think, why? But the funeral director noted that for many, especially family, seeing the body is an important part of saying goodbye. So I am open to that. But I tend to not like that particular practice, having a stiff, artificial version of the body I once knew to say goodbye to.

So, we’ll have to make some decisions as a family. I felt nervous before I got to the funeral home. I get nervous before I do a lot of things related to Mom. I’m not afraid I’ll cry or anything. I’m not having “performance” anxiety, you know, like I have to represent Mom in some special way. I just have butterflies. I guess it’s just plain anxiety. What I’m doing is often important. Life savings, long-term care, death. Those are serious issues. Once I’m in the thick of it, the butterflies go away.

6 comments so far

  1. Laura on

    These are definitely not decisions that need to be made now – especially with everything else on your plate! We’ll talk about it next week, but even then we don’t need to set anything in stone. I’m glad you worked out the cremation with Southwick, though!

  2. Gemma on

    I talked with a funeral director because my mom was convinced she didn’t have enough money to bury her. It was amazing how much you have to consider. And now I’m reluctant to bring the subject up with Mom. I’m going to see her this weekend, so I’ll try to dredge up the courage. Even thinking about it makes my heart pound. Don’t know why — she absolutely wants to be in control, and I’m sure that includes what happens at her funeral!

  3. sandy on

    years ago, my parents signed up with the neptune society and apparently we are covered for a small boat to go out on the bay where we can scatter the ashes. I like this, but worry about having a service too. My family always has a Chinese banquet after funeral services, which other cultures do for weddings!

  4. momsbrain on

    Laura: Yes, we should have plenty of time to deal with the details, thankfully.

    Gemma: Feel free to use me as an excuse when you talk to your mom! “I have this friend who talked about all the dang details involved in pre-planning a funeral…”

    Sandy: That sounds nice – I’ll bet many people choose the bay for scattering. I have never thought about scattering Mom’s ashes because I can’t think of a single place that was ever super important to her. But it is another option. You know, I hadn’t even thought about food, which is yet another thing to consider…!

  5. IcedLatte on

    Ah, okay, first, they are “cremains” not ashes. Seriously. And lots of people “forget” them at the funeral home, which I know because I’ve spent a lot of time in funeral homes and when I’m bored I explore my surroundings. Second, whatever you do, start putting pennies in the piggy bank for the vacation you are going to need to soothe your busy mind. My family has a tradition of bourbon, the ocean, and ham, but whatever works….

  6. momsbrain on

    Hi, Iced Latte. I am familiar with the term cremains but am prone to call them ashes, I guess. As for a vacation – I’m all for it and hope to do some serious vacationing soon. I’m more of a vodka girl myself. But ocean, ham…yes.

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