There are milestones in life that we gather to celebrate or commemorate. Baptisms, Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, sweet sixteen, gender reveals and gotcha days, silver anniversaries and retirements. Hours are spent planning, budgeting, shopping and trolling Pinterest for clever ideas to make such occasions special for all who attend. If you’re like me, you prefer to be included in the decision making when you are the subject of said milestones. I remind my husband of this annually. Surprise birthday party? Not a fan.
Some major life events may be celebrated more than once, such as birthdays and weddings. We get “do-overs” and second chances to execute the perfect gathering. But there is one milestone we have 100% guarantee of reaching, and 100% guarantee of no decision-making do-overs. Only 17% of us under the age of 65 have planned for it, and the number climbs to a meager 31% after the age of 75… What happens when we die?
If the only picture that pops to mind is a religious funeral home service with scrolling family pictures on a screen and men in dark suits greeting at the door, think again. While that style is perfectly suitable and lovely, it may not fit YOUR style. The post-death options available are numerous and creative! But you have to pre-plan to guarantee the perfect plan. No pre plan, no promises. Your grieving loved ones are left not only with making these decisions in your absence, but also with the tension that may arise if not all are in agreement.
Will my loved ones plan a somber traditional funeral or a lively celebration of life service? Serve my favorite food? Beer or wine? Bury me in a car? Will they cremate me? Embalm me? Share my ashes with the neighbors? Transform my remains into a piece of glass art or wear me around their necks as a bead or diamond? Compost me and plant a tree in my cremains? Most importantly, will they experience tension over these decisions because I failed to clearly plan, budget, shop, troll Pinterest and document the event I’m 100% guaranteed to experience with no do-over?
In the coming months, I’ll explore some of the new ways to commemorate this inevitable event.
|Amy Jo (AJ) Barkley
staff writer for The Arlington Memorial Gardens. AJ joins the writing and research team at The Arlington Memorial Gardens with a rich background in Human Resources for both corporate and non-profit organizations. As the wife of a Presbyterian Church Minister in Cincinnati, AJ spends her time working in the church and helping multiple charities and non-profit organizations. Her desire is that the tidbits of information she discovers and shares are helpful and hopeful!