The day started like any other. I went for a walk in the morning. I came home. I showered and got dressed. I did a load of laundry.
Then my mom came over and we went to plan her funeral.
You see, my mother’s brother passed when he was the same age I am now (42). He was so young and his death so unexpected that no one knew what to do when he passed. There was a lot of scrambling to get everything just right. His bereaved wife, parents, brother, and sister (my mom) did the best they could for him and it was done.
My father passed away in 2014. He had pre-paid for all his funeral arrangements so when the time came, his children would not have to make any tough choices. He also paid for it all to make sure he got what he wanted. (That was fair—we would have never ordered the granite bench he so desired.) The issue was that he had dementia towards the end of his life and he never told any of us where his plans were. So upon his death, we had to call every Jewish funeral home, memorial park, and cemetery in the Philadelphia area to figure out where to put him.
My mother is not sick. She does not plan to die any time soon. However, she wanted to take the burden off her children and also pre-plan and pre-pay for what she wanted. I went with her for emotional support and to make sure the plans did not get lost.
We took a drive out to where her brother is buried. He resides in a beautiful memorial park about 40 minutes from my house. A memorial park is different than a cemetery because it does not have any standing headstones. They are all flat “plaques” if you will. It’s nice because it gives the feel of a real park. We visited in late summer so the trees were in bloom and the birds were chirping and by the time we left, I was ready to leave a deposit for myself, too! Hopefully, I do not need to think about that for me, though, any time soon.
We met with the director and with a representative from the funeral home and in less than an hour, we picked what she wanted. We took a tour of the grounds, paid respects to my uncle, and said our farewells to the gentlemen who assisted us. We also said we hope to not see them for at least another 30 years.
It wasn’t that hard of a day for me. It was nice to honor my mom and listen to what she wanted and even provide some input. We tend to not be “cemetery people” in my family. We have lost more than our share of loved ones and we all deal with loss and grief in our own ways. We started as Jewish and along the way have added in some different religions and beliefs—all which have their own ways to mourn.
However, it’s calming to know that several decades from now, when the time comes, the plans will be ready for her and for her children so we can focus on just remembering her and loving her. Just as we do every day in the present.
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