Dear Abby on Funeral Planning

Sep 1, 2010 | 0 comments

Yesterday’s Dear Abby column had several letters reacting to a July 14 letter, where a man didn’t want to attend his mother’s funeral and have to see her on display in a casket. Several writers weighed in on the benefits of a memorial service, where the person’s life is celebrated without the body present.

A woman who works in a funeral home wrote in to suggest a couple of options for those who need to see a body to fully realize the person has died. Some funeral homes have more than one viewing room. They could display his mother in one and have the receiving line in another. That way, he wouldn’t have to see his mother in a casket. The service could include a closed casket — or none at all. Another choice would be cremation with a memorial service afterward. Both arrangements would allow the husband the chance for a final goodbye without seeing Mom in the casket.

Lisa Carlson, executive director of the Funeral Ethics Organization, wrote, “A memorial service can be a very different experience than a funeral with the casket present. One of the classiest ones I ever attended was at an art museum, with a jazz trio and a display of the deceased’s artwork all around. After listening to some wonderfully funny stories about the nifty lady we were there to honor, there was wine and finger food and cordial sharing of fond memories.”

She added, “My advice to any family is to start talking about funerals now, before the big event, sharing what you like and what you don’t about funerals. There is never only one way to do it.”

I am totally in agreement about that! You can read all of the responses to this important issue through this link.

A Good Goodbye