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My Toolkit

Visitations/Services/Remains

This section of Final Roadmap encourages you to consider and communicate your wishes for gatherings that include your loved ones and others who knew you, following your physical death. These events may be private or may include people you never knew, who are present to support your loved ones. Home visitation, Shiva, wake, funeral or other services as well as disposition of physical remains such as burial or cremation are covered here.

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While unpleasant to consider, there are many stories of family members spending a great deal of money while they are emotionally overwrought. Unscrupulous people may insinuate that you are not a good spouse/son/daughter/partner/friend if you do not “honor your loved one” be spending a lot of money. Too often, these expenditures are true hardships and the source of great regret. People are reluctant to talk about death or money, but your Final Roadmap encourages you to communicate in a thoughtful manner, with as much privacy as you desire. Again, you provide the best comfort for those left behind by telling them how to honor your wishes.

 

As with all aspects of end of life, your directions are gifts to those who love you. Details provided in this section will allow your loved ones to celebrate your life and grieve your death rather than fuss about what your wishes might have been. Those who love you want to honor you, and letting them know how to do that is both priceless and pragmatic. There is enormous comfort in being able to carry out the final wishes of someone you love.

This section contains five forms. As always, use none of them or all of them to the extent appropriate for you.

My Overall Thoughts on this Topic

This is a place to consider collecting your thoughts about the time and formal events that will honor you and your life.

Some examples as food for thought:

-When I picture those people that I love gathered after I die, I hope you will be in a comfortable place, maybe my apartment, and tell stories. Comfort one another and do what it takes to make you feel better. You all know my favorite prayers and will find them well noted in my Bible. I have requested to die with that Bible in my hands, but not to be buried with it so it should be around someplace. Please don’t spend money going out to eat or anything unless you really want to – I have always thought this was as pointless as expensive caskets.

-I know I will come back to this section as I age. Part of me thinks all of this should reflect my life, which has been pretty normal and modest. Another part wants it to be kind of over the top. I think this is an area that will evolve for me. I’m young now, and single, so having a wife and kids will cause me to include them in the discussion. The only thing I know for sure is that I want to be an organ donor and be cremated. If, God forbid, I die before my parents, they can figure out what to do with the ashes.

-I surprised myself by living as long as I did and I know some of you feel the same way. I have left a lot of money behind and instructions for a big splash at the Peninsula hotel. I have left a menu and want the bar to be open after a champagne toast to me. This is my last hoorah. If you think it’s tacky, stay home. I had a great run. Details are on the forms in my Final Roadmap.

My Wishes for Visitation and/or Wake Form

Excerpted questions with sample responses (actual forms do not include responses).

Consideration                  My Wishes                          Notes
Visitation at Home I don’t know what the house will look like and prefer not to have people there. I understand people will want to gather, and hope Sally and Jim will open their home the day I die.  
Shiva Please do not miss a week of work or school. I know you loved me and I have lived a full life and I died in peace.  
Wake - Location I would like my wake to be in the church, closed casket, immediately before the funeral. Please have a recent picture on the casket - I hate when the picture is 20 years old. And, if you insist on poster boards with photos, please do not have any with people in bathing suits.
Wake – clothing, jewelry ,other If I look decent, I would like to be in an open casket in my military uniform and my medals. You can take the medals off before the casket is closed.  
Casket - open or closed? The kids can decide if the casket is open or closed, but if it’s open, bring my makeup to the funeral home, especially the lipstick.  
Wake - casket Rent something decent looking for the wake and use a pine box for the cremation.  

 
My Wishes for My Funeral Form

Excerpted questions with sample responses (actual forms do not include responses).

Element             My Wishes                       Considerations/Notes
Budget I prefer that $5,000 or less be spent on wake, funeral and cremation. Have you set aside money for your funeral? Is there an amount (dollar or percentage) of your estate you wish to instruct your loved ones to spend?
Point person Katie There is effort required to carry out your wishes (but much less because you have Final Roadmap). Consider designating a coordinator who can delegate, facilitate and be the decision maker, when required.
Element                  My Wishes                                                   Consideration/Notes
Overall tone I hope there is some humor; nothing too somber. Traditional? Somber? Lighthearted? Celebratory?
Music I would love to have a gospel choir. If not, upbeat gospel recordings will be fine. Do not allow “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” Consider listing songs, musicians, singers, recordings, points at which you wish certain pieces to be played…Also consider songs you absolutely do not want.
Readings I have attached 3 readings. As set by the church/synagogue/temple for the day? Favorite biblical passages, poems, or prose?
Reception after the funeral? Absolutely, at McNulty’s, my favorite bar. Y/N/whatever my loved ones decide.


My Wishes for Memorial or Celebration of Life Services Form

Excerpted questions with sample responses (actual forms do not include responses).

Element My Wishes Consideration/Notes
Guest list It is attached arizonafriends.docx  
Location The Community Center in our subdivision  
Timing Depending on when I die, either November or March – when most of our friends are there  
Readers Jim xxx-xxx-xxxx
Kitty xxx-xxx-xxxx
Consider specifying individuals for certain items. Consider listing phone numbers if they are not well known to your loved ones.


My Wishes for Cremation, Burial or Other Disposition of My Remains Form

Excerpted questions with sample responses (actual forms do not include responses).

Element My Wishes Considerations/Notes
Budget This is part of my funeral budget and is attached Have you set aside funds for this purpose? If so, how much and how can they be accessed?
I choose burial for my body
Location I have a plot at St. Mary’s and want a green burial. No embalming fluid and no casket. Particular cemetery? Other considerations?
I would like my remains in a mausoleum
I choose cremation
Location(s) for my ashes If my son and daughter want some, that’s fine. I have no preference for what happens to my remains, but don’t want them to feel creeped out or guilty. If my family doesn’t want them or have a good idea, and it’s not against the law, just scatter them in the woods where we used to cross-country ski.  

 


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