1. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,418
    I have agonised over where and even if I should post this but I really need some input so here goes. I really don't want to upset anyone, but I know when the time comes I'm going to be a basket case, so I'm trying to get things straight before that point.

    Funerals: a difficult subject. My mother now lives 100 miles from where she has lived for the past 20 years or so, and we've always been a bit peripatetic - bouncing around the south of england. Mummy always said that was my father's choice, but since he died she moved at least 6 times of her own volition (and has commented to me that possibly it wasn't just my father). Anyway, the upshot is that she only has one pre-illness friend left who is likely to come to her funeral. We have no real family left on my mother's side, and no contact with them. So that leaves me, my husband and my children. Compounding the problem is that, of course, my husband and children will be in the US when the time comes. So the question is, do we have to have a funeral? I mean I think they have real value in terms of closure, but I can't think that a funeral attended by a few people is going to be anything other than supremely depressing. Depending on when it occurs it may not even be possible for my children to be there.

    Mummy has always said she want to be cremated. I was thinking - is it possible to have a private cremation and then subsequently have a non-religious (because none of us are) memorial service? And if so, where should I have this service: near where she is currently living or where she used to live?

    I once went to a Society of Friends "funeral" which was lovely - people just stood up and spoke about the person, but I don't think that would work - frankly there aren't enough of us left. On the other hand I don't want to to give my mother short shrift. On the other other hand, I don't want to do something just because it is "supposed" to be done, or because not to do so will put me in a bad light - I know how much I love and value my mother so I don't need that sort of validation.

    Jennifer
     
  2. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Jennifer, I know how you feel. It's so hard, working out what to do for the best. It must be even harder trying to work it out for a distance.

    Have you thought of a Humanist ceremony? I've never been to one, but I/ve heard that they are very comforting.

    It might be worth contacting The Humanist Society.

    (Had a panic there, when I saw you'd posted on this forum! You see, you're not the only one!)

    Love,
     
  3. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    68,659
    Kent
    Dear jennifer

    I think we are on exactly the same wavelength here.

    Dhiren has no family here and only one friend left. He is unable to travel unaccompanied .

    If Dhiren dies before me, he will have a private cremation with just me, our son and daughter-in-law.

    That is what I would want for myself.

    We have no religious beliefs.

    I too would not wish to upset anyone with my views. Funerals are personal to the individual, this is our choice.
     
  4. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Absolutely, Sylvia. I do think that closure is important, and that closure must be what the family is happy with.
     
  5. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,418
    Hazel - the Humanist idea is a great one, so thank you. I probably wouldn't have thought of it on my own.

    It's the logistics of the thing that is (at this stage) driving me to distraction. If it happens soon, my son won't have his passport, my daughter will be well into her senior year at college. How long can you put off a funeral anyway? I'm glad to hear that it isn't entirely outside the pale to just have a few people at a funeral. As a teacher my mother touched a lot of peoples lives, but I don't need them there to know that.

    My mother was always very fond of poetry, particularly Tennyson, so that's a rich source of possible readings, and the one piece of music that she would like would be Edith Piaf singing "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" Just thinking about it makes me cry though.

    Jennifer
     
  6. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Crying's OK. Je ne regrette rien's a great choice. Also poetry.

    My mum and dad were very active in the church, and I was brought up in the strict Presbyterian tradition. But I just had a (Christian) crematorium service for each of them, although I had tremendous pressure to have a church service. Almost all their friends had died, (dad was 87, mum 92) and there's nothing sadder than an empty church at a funeral.

    Just do whatever you're comfortable with. Your mum knows how you feel.

    Love,
     
  7. BeckyJan

    BeckyJan Registered User

    Nov 28, 2005
    18,972
    Derbyshire
    A friend of mine had a humanist memorial service at our local Town Hall some time after the private cremation. Lots of amusing stories were told!! It worked well. Does it really matter if only a few special people are there? - I do not think so. Also as we age then there are fewer of our old friends around.

    Just a thought but what about a private memorial service at home!! I am sure that is allowed.

    I also have been sounding out about these things as I think it better to voice our own preferences well in advance of own funerals.

    Beckyjan
     
  8. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,418
    I see no reason why one couldn't have a memorial service at home, but I don't have a home in the UK to hold it.

    I don't know: relatively fast private funeral with a memorial later, or just do the memorial and funeral thing at the same time? I'm not sure that I will want to extend the process, even if that just means it will be me, DH, my mother's only remaining friend plus a couple of the carers from the home.

    Edited to add: I know my DH (or rather not so D) H won't want to come over, but I'm damned if I'm going to go through this on my own. Hummf.
     
  9. BeckyJan

    BeckyJan Registered User

    Nov 28, 2005
    18,972
    Derbyshire
    Where is your Mum? - wonder if some local TP members could join you?!!!!! - even if not in person we will all be there in spirit.
    Love Jan
     
  10. connie

    connie Registered User

    Mar 7, 2004
    9,519
    Frinton-on-Sea
    Lionel is now in a care home some 30 miles from where we lived together.

    His wonderful old school friends are scattered over the county of Kent. His children don't ever visit. Whenever the time comes I shall just have a short service at the nearest crematorium. After all I have posted before on Lionels wishes:

     
  11. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,418
    Jan - she's in Warwickshire, but who knows when this event will occur - maybe she'll rally.

    Connie I just love the idea of the Viking funeral. I've been thinking that when the time comes, I'm going spread my mother's ashes on the sussex downs (first making sure the direction the wind is blowing in) :) It's either that, or plant her under a rose bush - she did always so love gardening.

    Jennifer
     
  12. Kayla

    Kayla Registered User

    May 14, 2006
    621
    Kent
    We had a service at the Church where we are members and then a committal service at the local Crematorium. We are planning to scatter Mum's ashes in the garden, when the family can all be together.
    Would it be possible for you to consider taking the ashes back to America for a family ceremony of some kind in the future?
    I think some people have a Church service, without anyone going to the Crematorium afterwards. The Funeral Directors could advise you on the options available when the time comes. We found them very helpful.
    Kayla
     
  13. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    68,659
    Kent
    My husband wants his ashes scattered in the Ganges.
     
  14. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    1,342
    #14 Lila13, Jul 28, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2007
    Will you be able to go there, when the time comes?

    My parents' ashes were just scattered in their local crematorium garden.

    My mother had chosen a song ("All through the night") and a reading, which I found in her pre-dementia handwriting among her other papers. My brother and aunts and uncle talked and I read a poem:

    Christina Rossetti

    Remember

    [message edited by Brucie to remove possible copyright material - link to the same poem on the Internet added instead]

    http://www.sitemappro.com/examples/prossetti.html



    (The older aunts wanted to talk so much they wouldn't have left time for anything else, my brother had a bit of difficulty making them shut up in time. The oldest remembering the day my mother was born ... Well, it's probably only at funerals that they all get together now.)

    Lila
     
  15. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    12,413
    near London
  16. blue sea

    blue sea Registered User

    Aug 24, 2005
    270
    England
    Hi Jennifer

    I think it is really sensible to be planning this now as it is probably helping you prepare for the reality of the end. Having a clear idea about what you will do will put your mind at rest. It is really difficult to make such decisions when the event happens and, even though it you have mentally prepared for it, you feel in shock. Perhaps you could provide some memorial to your mother near your own home, a special tree planted in your garden or somewhere locally, for example? I would try not to worry too much about the details of the funeral. You could have a simple service at the crematorium, with no religious elements, if you wished. I have been to a couple like this and they were every dignified and touching, partly through their simplicity. Choosing the music, poems, or a reading can be very healing. If you felt able to, you could say a few words about your mother. Even if very few people can come, you will probably find the service, whatever form it takes, will be helpful to you in coming to terms with the finality of what has happened. You must do whatever feels right for you. It must be very hard for you being physically so far away, but your love is close and with your mother all the time.
    Blue sea
     
  17. Cate

    Cate Registered User

    Jul 2, 2006
    1,370
    Newport, Gwent
    Hi Jennifer

    I understand what you mean about being prepared. Even at 89 I thought mum would go on forever, so it was a shock when out of the blue mum had the heart attack, and now she is refusing medication……….

    The relatives are all but gone, so we know there will be, at best, 8 of us at her funeral. Mum is RC, and has her ‘plot’ with dad. So even though the church won’t be packed with people, I know pretty much what she wants, which is a blessing.

    I certainly know what she wants added to the headstone, she has told me often enough!! And I also know she wants, to quote “nobody looking at me dead, my coffin is to be nailed down straight away”.

    I have to say, when we had the ‘discussions’ I found them so very depressing, and I usually ended up in tears. My heart used to sink when she used to say to me ‘sit down I want to talk to you’ in that stern ‘mummy’ voice, I knew it was the dreaded ‘funeral’ coming. Now I feel differently about it, although the ‘finer’ details will be up to us, I am relieved that I do know what she would want.

    Jennifer you know your mum best of all, and you know what would be a fitting tribute, and personally I don’t think it will matter one iota where it is.

    Love

    Cate
     
  18. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,418
    Thanks everyone.

    I keep thinking that I have very little experience of funerals, but in fact I have been to my fair share over the years. However, they have all been "cut down in their prime" sort of things, with the result that they still have masses of friends and family and, for the most part, they have lived in one area for most of their lives. It's given me a probably unrealistic view of what funerals are like, particularly for the very elderly. Mummy has never been overly sentimental about death - she prepaid her funeral expenses many years ago, and apart from expressing a hope that if there is a heaven she'll find her assorted dogs there, is not a believer.

    I have printed off the list of humanist officiants, since I think they would be ideal. I still have a couple of questions though.

    1) How long can a funeral be put off?
    2) What are people's feelings about adult granchildren attending? Not from an emotional standpoint - if they were resident "in country" they'd be there, but is this something else I have to worry about - getting them there in time?

    Jennifer

    P.S. I think you're all right - I do know what will be a fitting tribute, but I'm getting bogged down in the minutae - keeps my mind of the big issue I suppose.
     
  19. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    1) I think it can be put off for as long as you want, provided the funeral director is prepared to store the body. It would probably incur charges.

    2) My opinion only, but I would think it would be up to the grandchildren. And I don't think you can rule out the emotional. They may want to say goobye to grandma, or they might want to stay away and avoid it. There are no rules, and that's something you can discuss with them in advance -- of course, they may change their minds! My (teenage) grandchildern chose not to come to my mum's funeral, even though they had been very close to her. Personal choice.

    Don't get too bogged down -- you too may change your mind when the time comes. Emotion does strange things to us!

    Love,
     
  20. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    5,379
    NW England
    I'm sorry, but am I the only person starting to find this thread somewhat distasteful?

    I was hugely appreciative of Jennifer first posting - my own father's funeral some years ago being a totally different concept from what I might plan for my mother for all sorts of personal reasons .... and good 'heads up' at first ..... whlst keeping my personal thoughts to myself .....

    I think this a valid discussion, but am very concerned for people who are currently or very recently dealing with their loss and indeed on going funeral arrangements for their loved ones being very upset by some of the finer detail being mentioned here ....

    I am keenly aware some people who have been very valued members of TP feel somewhat 'distanced' from the main boards since their own losses ... also that the 'Dealing with Loss' section has been a debatable point for some time as to whether it was a place of isolation ..... from different perspectives ...

    By all means, we all know what we have to face and the practicalities which will follow the 'inevitable' - but I personally find this discussion totally inappropriate for members/ visitors to the site looking to the 'Dealing with Loss' section as at least some 'place of safety' ..... if not comfort .....

    Sorry, if I'm totally wrong, but just felt I finally had to say something...

    Karen
     

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