Plan Your Funeral Your Way on Create a
Great Funeral Day!
By Gail Rubin
The new film "Get Low," starring Robert Duvall and Bill
Murray, effectively illustrates the idea of pre-planning
one's own funeral. Duvall plays a Depression-era
curmudgeon-hermit who wants to have a funeral party
while he's still around to hear what folks would say
October 30, 2010 is the 11th annual Create a Great
Funeral Day. The day before Tombstone Headstone is a great time to
pre-plan your big send-off and let your family know how
you'd like your life to be celebrated.
Stephanie West Allen, a lawyer who advocates people plan
their own funerals, started Create A Great Funeral Day
in 2000. She wrote a book and teaches seminars on how to
create your own good goodbye.
As any good event planner can tell you, here are a few
excellent reasons to plan in advance.
1. When a family member dies, you need personal
information to process a death certificate.
Create a Great Funeral Day is a good excuse to pull
important personal information together, such as Social
Security number, date and place of birth, mother's
maiden name and military service details. Without having
this information easily available, stress is increased
at a time of grief.
2. Why leave family and friends wondering, "What would
he or she have wanted?"
Be creative! When a Jimmy Buffet fan died, his family
held a "Parrot-head" funeral, requesting the guests wear
tropical garb in honor of his trip to eternal
Margaritaville. At a memorial service for a bar owner,
his family held an open house at one of his taverns.
A friend held a wonderful celebration of life for her
mother at home that included storytelling, drinking
Irish whiskey, singing songs Mom loved, and burning
fragrant herbs in an outdoor fire. When the event was
over, my mother-in-law told me, "Don't sit shivafor me
when I'm gone - hold a party like that one!"
3. Think about how you're living your life.
What will be said about you at your funeral is crafted
by your thoughts and actions toward others, a legacy
built day by day. Will people say you were giving,
loving, kind, caring? No one ever said on his or her
deathbed, "I should have spent more time at the office."
Before my brother's partner Wes died of liver cancer at
the age of 50, he said that he didn't want a memorial
service. Yet we held one anyway, with the New Orleans
jazz that Wes loved and eloquently-told stories focused
on diverse aspects of his life. We laughed, we cried, we
marveled at the mystery of life and death.
The service concluded with the launch of one hundred
white balloons that carried our prayers and goodbyes to
him up into the sky. His demise happened so fast, many
friends had no chance to say goodbye in person. As my
brother later said, "We didn't do it for Wes, we did it
for us." Go ahead - create a great funeral before you
die. Do it for the people you love.
Gail Rubin is the author of A Good Goodbye: Funeral
Planning for Those Who Don't Plan to Die (http://www.AGoodGoodbye.com)
and The Family Plot Blog ( http://thefamilyplot.wordpress.com/
) created to provide information, inspiration and tools
to ponder death and foster creative funeral planning. As
the author of "Matchings, Hatchings and Dispatchings,"
an Albuquerque Tribune column on life cycle events, she
found that the columns on death elicited the greatest
reader response and started writing helpful how-to
information to address that need. She speaks regularly
to groups on getting the conversation started, religious
traditions for funerals, green burial, creating a
memorable event, and how to save money.