The funerals of Aretha Franklin and John McCain are coming up this Saturday. With thousands wanting to pay tribute to these outstanding individuals, it’s a challenge to coordinate multiple events in different places. Funeral directors are rising to this challenge.
Aretha Franklin’s Funeral Arrangements
Consider the many elements the Swanson Funeral Home is handling for “The Queen of Soul” in Detroit:
- Public viewings on August 28, 29 and 30 – with a change of outfits from Tuesday to Wednesday (and probably another on Thursday).
- A musical tribute the evening of August 30 (tickets available at TicketMaster).
- A private family funeral service and burial on Saturday, September 1.
- More than 150 pink Cadillacs are converging on Detroit for these events in tribute (and what PR for Mary Kay Cosmetics!).
- The 1940 LaSalle hearse that carried her father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, and Rosa Parks is being used to carry Aretha.
- The flowers! Huge displays of roses were set up around her casket. They need to be delivered, set up, moved, and maintained over these next few days.
- The casket from Batesville! The chosen model is called the “Promethean” and referred to as the “gold standard” of caskets because of its gold finish. The casket is made from 48-ounce polished bronze and has 14-karat gold-plated hardware. It was the same casket model Michael Jackson was buried in.
The news coverage shows Swanson’s staff, sharply attired with matching suits and ties, gracefully handling her casket with white gloves. Here’s what they posted for her obituary.
And even though her music touched and inspired millions, and made her millions of dollars, Aretha Franklin did not have a will. She’s not alone – other rich and famous people didn’t have wills, which leads to conflict, pain, and unnecessary expenses. Read this column by Michelle Singletary in the Washington Post: I wasn’t surprised that Aretha Franklin didn’t have a will. You probably don’t either.
John McCain’s Funeral Arrangements
Multiple funeral homes in different cities are being called upon to facilitate John McCain’s services in Arizona, Washington, D.C. and Annapolis. The schedule for his memorial services involves travel, crowd control, high security for the presence of former presidents, and all with proper etiquette with politicos and the military.
Over the past year, while John McCain was at home dealing with the brain cancer that eventually took his life, he planned his funeral services. It was his idea to have services in Arizona, Washington, D.C. and Annapolis. What a schedule:
- His body will lie in state in the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix on Wednesday, with a private ceremony on what would have been his 82nd birthday.
- On Thursday at 10:00 a.m. there will be a service at North Phoenix Baptist Church where former Vice President Joe Biden will speak.
- McCain’s body will then be transported to Washington, D.C.
- His body will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Friday, with a wreath presentation ceremony at 10:00 a.m.
- On Saturday, his body will be driven past the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and there will be a memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral at 10:00 a.m. Eulogies will be presented by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
- On Sunday, he’ll be transported to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he will be laid to rest in the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery overlooking the Severn River. The ceremony will be private.
It takes incredible coordination to manage all of these different ceremonies in different places. Yet, in all of the news coverage of these plans, no specific funeral home is mentioned. You can bet that like a duck gliding gracefully on the surface of a pond, there are feet paddling furiously below the surface to make all of these events happen.
As you watch the memorial services for Aretha Franklin and John McCain unfold over the next few days, consider what will happen in your family if you don’t plan ahead. Thousands of people loved and revered Franklin and McCain. Surely, there are people in your life you love and revere you.
You may not need multiple services in multiple places to let people gather and mourn your death. But you should at least give them one chance to have a good goodbye.