“Do you want to be cremated, or do you want a full burial?” That’s not the kind of conversation you would think my wife and I would be having on a date night dinner, but here we were. We had to do this and we had been putting it off. So, we made a plan for dinner and, during our dinner, we would go through all of the questions we would have if the other died first.
Do you want the service at the church?
Do you want music? If so, what kind of music will that be, and who do you want to sing it?
Who do you want to speak?
What are the passwords to your accounts?
Who do you want to be notified about your death?
Do you want flowers, or do you want to recommend donations to a favorite charity in lieu of flowers?
The questions go on and on. These are the questions your family will have to answer when you die. Not only that, but they will have to try and find the suit or dress you want to be buried in while they are overwhelmed with grief. Depending on the circumstances of your death will dictate how much energy your family has to plan your service. If you died after a full and long life, resting in your bed surrounded by your family, or unexpectedly in an airplane crash. It makes a difference.
How relieved and grateful your family will be if they can reach for a notebook that has all of your wishes and necessary information lovingly arranged by you. You will have relieved them from the crisis of having to make decisions when they are in no mental or emotional state to make any kind of decision. Not only that, they will be relieved to know they are doing your funeral the way you wanted it done.
Why should you do this? Because you’re going to die. Is that news to you? Sooner or later, it happens to all of us. Our heart stops beating. We stop breathing and then, someone has to do something with our body. Someone has to call the funeral home. Someone has to plan the service. There’s a lot to do. How much easier it is to be able to work down the list you have prepared for your family that indicates who should be called.
And while you’re planning for your service, you realize that the life you live is the sermon that will be preached. As a preacher who has done a lot of funerals, I can tell you there’s only so much we can do. We can’t take a — let’s say, a colorful life — and turn you into Saint Teresa in the few minutes given to us between the last song and the final prayer. Your life will be what we preach — for good or for bad.
This brings up this last reminder. You don’t have as much time as you think. Everyone thinks that someday they’ll get their life together. They’ll repair any broken relationships, love their neighbors, and change the world. Here’s the problem — someday never comes. Death comes like a thief in the night and it comes when we never expect it. If you’re going to love someone, you better do it today. Need to patch up a busted relationship? Better do it today.
Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone.
So, sit down and write out your will. Plan your funeral. If you love your family, do this. And then, live your life every day with the understanding that this day could be your last. Give your pastor too many stories to fit into a one-hour service. Give your family something to celebrate.
If you love your family, plan your funeral. If you love your family, live so everyone you love you wouldn’t miss your funeral for anything in the world.