Monday, July 19, 2010

Critical Choices

I was browsing the current copy of Montana Magazine (July/Aug 2010) in the store.  There was a wonderful article about a casket maker out of Kalispell, MT.  His business is called Sweet Earth Casket and Cradle Shop. He does custom orders.  What intrigued me was his commitment to his customers.  Several of his caskets do double duty they can be other things until they are needed as caskets.  I never thought about pre-ordering my casket.

When we faced Mom's death,  I learned a lot about funeral's and expenses. I wish I had known about his Critical Choices book. We did not have a lot of money and chose to do much of the service and preparations ourselves.  I was shocked at how many mainstream churches refused hosting a funeral because Mom was not a member of their congregation. We designed and printed the funeral program. Hired the musician.

I remember talking with my younger sister and asked what do people do who don't have the resources we do.  Mom's service was very lovely.  The Unitarian Church graciously allowed us to have her service there.  One of the hospice chaplain's officiated.  My 18 year old niece gave the eulogy. My sister and niece sang, and my uncle read a favorite poem.  A friend created a beautiful photo slideshow that was shown during Mom's service.

We were not prepared for all the hoops that needed to be jumped.  It would have been easier if we had known some of the things before hand.  Mom had always told us she wanted to be cremated.  It was not in writing however. According to Montana Law all the siblings must approve cremation if there is no written instructions.  This surprised me because I was the executor of her estate and her guardian.

One of the hardest conversations to have is end of life discussions.  It is so important.  We should be having them with our family regularly, so that people know our wishes. Aging With Dignity has a booklet called the  5 Wishes that lets you write down your wishes for end of life care if you are unable to express your desires.

It is very difficult to make decisions when you are in pain and grieving.  Talking about choices when emotions are not as high is a gift you give yourself and your loved ones.


Doreen McGettigan said...

What a tough subject to discuss. I lost my younger brother to murder at the age of 26. The costs were unbelievable. Funeral, loss of work and helping his wife(not able to work here because she is from Iceland) and baby.
My husband lost his 17 year old son to suicide..this cost my husband a bankruptcy and nearly his mind.
But it is so important to be prepared and have these discussions.
I hope you have many good memories of times shared with your mother.

Ruth said...

I am so sorry for your losses. It is very difficult to have these conversations. I am sorry to say that my mother tried to have these conversations when she was still healthy and I wasn't ready to listen.

But yes I have many wonderful memories. I am very blessed.