Money Matters

Terminally ill- How important are last wishes?

If a terminally ill family member, who is a respected member of the local business community, said that they didn't want a funeral or memorial service, would you honor their wishes?

[Poll]
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Re: Terminally ill- How important are last wishes?

  • I would ask them to allow us to do a memorial service after a private burial.  I would explain that we wanted to come together to celebrate our love for that individual and honor them.  

     

  • The only way I would consider going against someone's wishes would be if they werent an organ donor and their organ's were viable. Even then Im not positive I would.
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  • image grrlygirl:

    I would ask them to allow us to do a memorial service after a private burial.  I would explain that we wanted to come together to celebrate our love for that individual and honor them.  

     

    This. The memorial isn't for the dead.
  • I believe that funerals and memorial services are for the living, not for the deceased.  In the deaths that I have suffered in my lifetime, they were essential to the greiving process.  I think I would have one even if that went against the person's wishes. 

     

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  • image BunMom90:
    image grrlygirl:

    I would ask them to allow us to do a memorial service after a private burial.  I would explain that we wanted to come together to celebrate our love for that individual and honor them.  

     

    This. The memorial isn't for the dead.

    this. definitely for the living. 

    I recently told my FI that I wanted to be cremated and my ashes scattered in a TBD place.  He was so upset.  He asked how he was supposed to visit ashes in the ocean, etc.  He asked how our future descendants were supposed to know us if my ashes were gone.  I still dont think it is a big deal and he can keep them in an urn in the living room if he wants, but since he is so upset about it, I would consider being buried for him. 

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  • Very important.  Anyone who doesn't want a funeral or memorial after is completely up to them.  Normally people want to have these things for family for closure for themselves.  Both my parents have told us not to spend a dime on a funeral or service.  We attend to keep with that agreement. 
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  • My MIL, who was not ill, had expressed that she did not want to be embalmed or have any visitation.

    When she died unexpectedly at age 52, that all got thrown up in the air. Because she died at home, we were forced to have an autopsy, which was conducted in the state capital. It took four days to get her body back.  In the meantime, we met with the funeral director who encouraged us to have a visitation for US, to help US grieve and mourn her death.  We elected to do so.  He also explained that in order to have her casket in the room, she would have to be embalmed because of length of time that had elapsed.  We did have it a closed-casket visitation, though, in respect for her wishes to not be "on display." 

    So, we didn't honor her wishes, but none of us regret not doing so, nor do we feel she'll haunt us for all eternity for not doing so.

  • My father (not terminally ill) has told me he doesn't want a funeral when he dies. It goes against everything I've ever known, but come that time, we won't have a funeral.

    He also wants to be cremated which seems strange to me, but that's a different matter, and I will respect his wishes then as well.

  • I would also ask for a compromise.  I would propose burying/cremating him, then holding a service at a church afterward.  I also believe that funerals are for the living and he probably doesn't want to be on display (I'm not sure I do either), so this is a good solution.
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  • image marylynn07:

    We did have it a closed-casket visitation, though, in respect for her wishes to not be "on display." 

    This is part of why both my parents want to be cremated. They say that they don't want people talking about how "good" they look when they're dead if they didn't say it when they were alive. Understandable I suppose.

  • My great-uncle didn't want a funeral.

    We still had a memorial tea for the people that knew him at the little hall in the town he was from. It was nice. People got together, talked about how much they loved him, told some stories, ate some cake, drank some coffee, and went on home. I think he would have accepted that as okay - my family is just really against spending money on dead people. 

  • image rkto:
    image BunMom90:
    image grrlygirl:

    I would ask them to allow us to do a memorial service after a private burial.  I would explain that we wanted to come together to celebrate our love for that individual and honor them.  

     

    This. The memorial isn't for the dead.

    this. definitely for the living. 

    I recently told my FI that I wanted to be cremated and my ashes scattered in a TBD place.  He was so upset.  He asked how he was supposed to visit ashes in the ocean, etc.  He asked how our future descendants were supposed to know us if my ashes were gone.  I still dont think it is a big deal and he can keep them in an urn in the living room if he wants, but since he is so upset about it, I would consider being buried for him. 

    I had trouble with this concept too, since DH wants to be cremated.  I had the same issues, wanting a tangible place to be near him/see and visit him.  He explained that, since his dad's ashes were scattered at sea, he can go to any coast line and feel close to his dad, and feel peaceful.  I learned to let go of my attachment to the physical, which is gone already, buried or not.

    If, forbid, he went before I did, I want to turn him into a reef ball.  He loves scuba diving and making him part of a reef would be fitting.

  • My grandparents did not want a funeral, so we did not have one.  We did what they wished.  They both left a couple readings that they wanted read with just immediate family (which they knew was only 4 people, my parents, and my dh and myself.)

    We went, the preacher read the readings as we stood by the casket, then we took them to the graveyard and I said a prayer and we left.

    Honoring their wishes did not hinder our grieving process IMO, and it also didn't stop people from showing us their support and love.  They did so through visits, calls, flowers, notes, meals, etc.

    After seeing how good it felt to do exactly what we knew the deceased wanted, I would never do it any other way. We honored them with the farewell they requested.

    If some people NEED the big funeral etc to grieve, I wouldn't judge them for it, but I know for me, the comfort of knowing we gave them the farewell they wanted was worth more.

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  • I would ask if we could't do a small get together of some sort. Funerals are for the living and I have found them to be very helpful when I've lost loved ones.
  • image rkto:
    image BunMom90:
    image grrlygirl:

    I would ask them to allow us to do a memorial service after a private burial.  I would explain that we wanted to come together to celebrate our love for that individual and honor them.  

     

    This. The memorial isn't for the dead.

    this. definitely for the living. 

    I recently told my FI that I wanted to be cremated and my ashes scattered in a TBD place.  He was so upset.  He asked how he was supposed to visit ashes in the ocean, etc.  He asked how our future descendants were supposed to know us if my ashes were gone.  I still dont think it is a big deal and he can keep them in an urn in the living room if he wants, but since he is so upset about it, I would consider being buried for him. 

    DH and I have had this conversation - we both think it's important that we'd be buried so that the kids could visit. But that is us deciding based on the best interest of the living. 

    If no small children were involved, I would definitely honor the explicit wishes of the deceased, however, I might be sneaky and hold, say, a BBQ, to get everyone together and remember :-)

  • image rkto:
    image BunMom90:
    image grrlygirl:

    I would ask them to allow us to do a memorial service after a private burial.  I would explain that we wanted to come together to celebrate our love for that individual and honor them.  

     

    This. The memorial isn't for the dead.

    this. definitely for the living. 

    I recently told my FI that I wanted to be cremated and my ashes scattered in a TBD place.  He was so upset.  He asked how he was supposed to visit ashes in the ocean, etc.  He asked how our future descendants were supposed to know us if my ashes were gone.  I still dont think it is a big deal and he can keep them in an urn in the living room if he wants, but since he is so upset about it, I would consider being buried for him. 

    DH had a similar reaction to my desire for a viking burial that would essentially have the same effect (although since that's illegal, cremation is the next best option) - so I'll probably end up mouldering in a grave.  He did acquiesce to my compromise wish for a very jewish-style burial though - plain wood box, no embalming or other types of preservation, etc that speed along the decay process. 

  • My (relatively young, but terminally ill) grandfather did not want a funeral or memorial service.  Instead, with his blessing, when he passed we waited about two months and then threw a party. 

    We rented a hall, had food and drinks, and all his friends and family members attended.  It was very casual.  Some people got up and spoke, but not just the typical "he was such a great man, yadayadayada" type stuff, but personal stories.  His nephew told us about a time they got in a bar fight, lol. 

    There were a lot of laughs and a few tears, and it was much better suited to the type of man my grandfather was than a traditional funeral.  I'm glad that we honoured his wishes.


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  • As pp have said, memorials are for the living not the dead. Instead of a "memorial", I'd probably have a party in their honor - sort of a celebration of their life. That way we could honor them, but would not be specifically ignoring their last wishes. A party is not a memorial...
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  • I think there might be room for compromise if you can get to the bottom of why they don't want a funeral.

    Don't want to be on display? Hate the cost? Something else? It seems like there are ways to help the living grieve without going against the actual root of the desire to skip the funeral.

  • I really really really don't want a funeral or memorial service of any kind when I die, and I would be so upset if my family blatantly went against my wishes on this.
  • image iwaly889:
    I really really really don't want a funeral or memorial service of any kind when I die, and I would be so upset if my family blatantly went against my wishes on this.

    But why not?

    I totally don't understand. When I die, people should party and remember me.

  • image uncannycanuck:

    image iwaly889:
    I really really really don't want a funeral or memorial service of any kind when I die, and I would be so upset if my family blatantly went against my wishes on this.

    But why not?

    I totally don't understand. When I die, people should party and remember me.

    I have no problem with my family going out for a drink after I die and talking about old times.  But I don't want a funeral and I don't want a memorial service.

  • ~NB~~NB~
    5000 Comments Combo Breaker
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    I would not honor these wishes, and here's why:

    I completely agree with the people who said that the funeral and memorial are FOR THE LIVING, not for the dead. The dead won't care once they are dead- but the living will care very much, and in most cases, it is the living who will be making the arrangements and signing the check. The dead do not grieve.

    Before I actually dealt with this situation, I too would have said that the last wishes of the dying person were paramount. I no longer feel that way.

    Consider that this person was a successful business owner, had lived about 70 years, been married more than once, and had many children. After his death, HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of people inquired about the date and location of the service. Many of them lived quite far away.

    People close to him knew his wishes. In my state, the decision goes to the next of kin, his semi-estranged (on again, off again) spouse. She opted not to have any type of memorial service (it wasn't a matter of money). This left hundreds and hundreds of people seeking to pay their last respects in a sort of psychological limbo, with no place or day to come together in rememberance.

    Several of his associations held their own little ceremonies at various places and times: they lit candles, read poetry, held informal picnics and released balloons, etc. But it was so lacking.

    What a shame it was that we were all unable to come together because more value was placed on this final wish, with no thought at all toward those left behind- multitudes of grieving people who knew and loved him, whose lives had been touched by him. Had there been a service of some sort, the size of the gathering would have been a testimony to how important his life had been to us. Everyone I talked to felt cheated.

    So, after going through this experience, my opinion about this issue has definitely changed. I'm no longer on the side of doing something like this for people who are GONE FOREVER. The funeral is for the living.

     

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  • image ~NB~:

    I would not honor these wishes, and here's why:

    I completely agree with the people who said that the funeral and memorial are FOR THE LIVING, not for the dead. The dead won't care once they are dead- but the living will care very much, and in most cases, it is the living who will be making the arrangements and signing the check. The dead do not grieve.

    Before I actually dealt with this situation, I too would have said that the last wishes of the dying person were paramount. I no longer feel that way.

    Consider that this person was a successful business owner, had lived about 70 years, been married more than once, and had many children. After his death, HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of people inquired about the date and location of the service. Many of them lived quite far away.

    People close to him knew his wishes. In my state, the decision goes to the next of kin, his semi-estranged (on again, off again) spouse. She opted not to have any type of memorial service (it wasn't a matter of money). This left hundreds and hundreds of people seeking to pay their last respects in a sort of psychological limbo, with no place or day to come together in rememberance.

    Several of his associations held their own little ceremonies at various places and times: they lit candles, read poetry, held informal picnics and released balloons, etc. But it was so lacking.

    What a shame it was that we were all unable to come together because more value was placed on this final wish, with no thought at all toward those left behind- multitudes of grieving people who knew and loved him, whose lives had been touched by him. Had there been a service of some sort, it would have been a testimony to how important his life had been to us. Everyone I talked to felt cheated.

    So, after going through this experience, my opinion about this issue has definitely changed. I'm no longer on the side of doing something like this for people who are GONE FOREVER. The funeral is for the living.

     

    I have to doubt that this individual was actually close to ALL hundreds and thousands of these people.  Basically you're saying that the wishes of the deceased should be blatantly disregarded, and the feelings of his close family and kin similarly disregarded, in favor of the wishes of people who knew the deceased only in the public eye - who were essentially strangers to him.  I wholeheartedly disagree with this sentiment.

  • ~NB~~NB~
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    image iwaly889:
    I really really really don't want a funeral or memorial service of any kind when I die, and I would be so upset if my family blatantly went against my wishes on this.

    No offense, but you couldn't be upset if you were dead. Even if the promise was made and broken by your survivors.

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  • I would have a funeral.  It provides closure for the living.  The dead don't care.

     My DH wants to be cremated and "scattered"  I can handle the cremation.  I'm not sure I can go dump him in the ocean.

  • ~NB~~NB~
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    image iwaly889:

    I have to doubt that this individual was actually close to ALL hundreds and thousands of these people.  Basically you're saying that the wishes of the deceased should be blatantly disregarded, and the feelings of his close family and kin similarly disregarded, in favor of the wishes of people who knew the deceased only in the public eye - who were essentially strangers to him.  I wholeheartedly disagree with this sentiment.

    I am saying that decisions should be made by people who will be alive and affected, not deceased and unaffected.

    Many people were closer to him than the person who made the final decision not to have a service, and she was ENTIRELY ALONE in her feelings. The rest of his kin were hurt and angry. Everyone wanted a service but that one person, and she held the cards.

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  • image ~NB~:

    Many people were closer to him than the person who made the final decision not to have a service, and she was ENTIRELY ALONE in her feelings. The rest of his kin were hurt and angry. Everyone wanted a service but that one person, and she held the cards.



    You can have a memorial service without the approval of next of kin.  You may not be able to have the body physically present, but nothing was stopping any of the rest of these upset relatives from renting a hall and having people come together to informally remember the deceased.  Don't blame his wife for holding your grief hostage.

    That said, when I die my family better not honor the wishes of some random person in a professional organization (whom I may or may not have even met) over what I have felt strongly enough to express to them myself.
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  • My grandpa died a few months ago and right before he died he told everyone that he didn't want a service because he didn't want everyone standing around mourning and crying.  Since he wanted to be cremated, we planned to have a small family gathering to spread his ashes.  Some family then also decided to have half his ashes put in a veteran's cemetery and have a service for him there.  I decided not to attend the veteran's service since that's not what he wanted and I wanted to respect that.

    While I do agree that a funeral service if for the living not the dead (they're dead - what do they care?), I do think that it is respectful to honor someone's last wishes.  It's very important to me to be cremated.  I would hope my family would honor that as a way to pay their respect.

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