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rojo's avatar

Have you made your final plans? Another question about death and dying.

Asked by rojo (15028 points ) February 12th, 2013

Have made plans for what is done with your mortal remains after your demise? In the words of Python, are you a burner or a burier, or an eater?

But seriously, have you given it any thought?
Have you chosen burial or cremation?
Do you have a cemetery plot already?
Have you chosen a funeral home?
What kind of service or memorial do you want?
Fancy high dollar casket or cheap wooden box?
Who or how is it going to be paid for?
Have you told others?
Who knows or who will make certain that your wishes are followed?
Do you have a living will?
Is it all in writing somewhere?

You may not really care because hey, you’re dead, but someone will have to make these decisions for you if you do not and while you have the easy part, just lying there looking all pale and pasty white, they are having to deal with the emotional upheaval that you just died AND try to second guess what you would have done.

Do them a favor, make the hard choices so they can just grieve!

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26 Answers

DigitalBlue's avatar

I don’t have anything in writing, but I really don’t have an assets where it would be important for me to divvy up, so to speak. I’m young (I recognize that doesn’t mean that I can’t die today), but I’ve expressed to my family that I’d like to be cremated and that I do not want a funeral. If I happen to get the opportunity to live out my life fully, and green burials are more easily obtained, I would prefer that. At this point I hope that they’ll respect my wishes, but really I’ll be dead, so it’s not like I’ll know the difference. I would like the event of my death to be carried out with the least environmental and financial impact possible. Basically.
I do not have a living will, but I really know that is something that I ought to do (probably something everyone ought to do.)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I have an envelope in my desk that is labeled “If anything happens to me – open this” with a note inside with some instructions.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Yes – my will says that I want to be cremated, and I have discussed this with both of my (adult) children. They are aware that I want my ashes to be strewn in the forest (any forest) because I like the green splendor of nature. The kids are aware that I am NOT in favor of sitting on the mantel piece or the bookshelf in an urn.

I also have a living will (no heroic medical care, pull the plug, it’s OK with me).

So, while I hope this isn’t going to happen any time soon, I’m ready for it.

marinelife's avatar

I have thought about it, but not committed them to paper. I want to be cremated and my ashes scattered on the ocean.

rojo's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I would be sure that its’ location is known to many. It would be tragic to decide to cremate someone only to find out they wanted to be buried when you are cleaning up.

@elbanditoroso I am just the opposite, I have requested to be set on the mantle and handed down for several generations. (Yep, that’s great-great-great-great grandpa right up there on the mantle! He died way back there in the 21st Century.)
But the odd thing is I also have a cemetery plot. A couple of generations back my wifes’ family donated a couple of acres of land for a cemetery but it was a Lutheran one and they were Methodists so they personally never used is. My in-laws converted to Catholic and Baptist many years back so bought a couple of plots and so did my wife and I knowing full well that while she will use hers, I will not use mine, at least not for a looooong time.

Seek's avatar

Ideally? Funeral pyre and a big, boozy party.

But I don’t know anywhere that that is still legal.

Realistically, I’ve told my husband to donate any part of my body that anyone wants. Organs, med students, whatever.

KNOWITALL's avatar

My husband and I have discussed our final wishes with our family (since we have no children.)

I am an organ donor and agree with @Seek_Kolinahr that any part of my body that can be used, should be.

It’s really important that your bank account, 401k, and car titles all have ‘death’ beneficiaries, too.

Judi's avatar

My husband and I have discussed it (my kids and I too) and I have a living will as well as a living trust. I even told my husband who I think would make a good wife for him should I die first. :-)

majorrich's avatar

Yup, all written up and paid for. I already know one of my wishes will not be honored. I have a wax mold of my hand in a one fingered salute I wish to have my ashes mixed with water and cast into. The wife unit probably won’t do that. She has consented to my ammo can though. Because the cemetary will allow two ‘cremains’ to a plot. we only need the one plot. I am, however, eligible to be buried in Arlington. Living will is in place and I am worth more dead than I am alive. XD

wundayatta's avatar

I have a will and a living will and I’ve made it clear that my idea of a good funeral would take place in the woods somewhere with dancing and creative activities and lots of stories. And if they can’t think of stories about me, they can tell them about someone else. I don’t care, so long as they have a good time.

I do have one difficulty. There are some people that I want to send messages to after I die, but I don’t have anyone I can trust to hold those messages until I die. I wish there were some sort of cyber version of a “dead man switch” that could be trusted to send messages only after I die, but I can’t think of how that would work. It would be horrible if it went out prematurely.

For example, I have journals that are password protected, and I want to make sure my children know those journals exist and what the passwords are, but only after I’m gone.

Leanne1986's avatar

I would like to be cremated and scattered in Loch Ness, as close to the castle as possible. My close family and partner are aware of this.

Judi's avatar

@wundayatta , why not an attorney?

burntbonez's avatar

I wish to be burned on a huge pyre of wood in the middle of the desert in a secret ceremony in the middle of the night. I won’t tell you where it will happen (burning man), nor will I tell you when (I don’t know). But I expect you all to be there. If I don’t die at a convenient time, they will keep my body on ice until it can be properly disposed of.

I command all of you to make sure my wishes are carried out! Shoot! Everyone should attend burning man at least once in life. Why not for my funeral?

Judi's avatar

@burntbonez , I’ve been told that I might be past the age of appreciation for Burning Man. I considered it though.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

I’ve given it plenty of thought, and I need to put my wishes in a binding document. I want nothing to be done in my memory—no funeral, no memorial service, no visitation times at any family homes. Paul feels very differently, so—unless I plan ahead—he’d go ahead and do all the “proper” things.

Coloma's avatar

I plan on the simplest and least expensive method of cremation.Otherwise no.
My daughter knows my wishes and that is all that is needed.
I agree with @SadieMartinPaul I don’t want or need any over the top memorial, who cares, I am dead.

Those that matter will have their memories and I think desiring a huge to do over ones death is egotistical.
You are dead, just like the gazillions of other humans and animals and every other life form on the planet that have gone before you.
Funerals are for the living to appease their own emotional needs.

rojo's avatar

@Coloma one of the most memorable “apre-death” services I have attended was for a friend who was cremated and had a small memorial service under a pavillion in a park. I got more out of that than all the church services and burials I have attended.

When I was younger I detested going to them but as I have gotten older I have realized it is not about me and have attended them to offer aid and comfort to those who remain.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@wundayatta My mother wrote a letter to my brother and me shortly before she died. It was to be opened after my father died and we would presumably be orphans. My Dad kept it in a safe deposit box. He remarried 18 years later and died 18 years after that. After his death, my step-mom gave us the letter. It was AWESOME! My mother wrote to us as if we were still children, calling us “boys”. I can look at photographs and see exactly how she saw us as she was writing. That letter is a precious gift.
Thanks Mom! Thanks Dad! and especially, Thanks Mom II for keeping it all those years.

cookieman's avatar

I have a will and a homestead document. I’m also an organ donor and have requested to be cremated. So I think I’m good.

gailcalled's avatar

We have plots in a family cemetery (in fact, in two cemeteries, in case the view/driving distance is important).

I have all my paperwork and finances in order. with copies everywhere including glove compartment, hospital I use and doctors’s records.

Last will and testament
Living Will
Health care proxy
Durable Power of Attorney
My daughter has a key and legal access to my safety deposit box.
Organ donor also.

The last decision I have to make is a DNR order or not; having one saved my mother’s bacon, so to speak, and allowed her to die peacefully less than three days after a massive stroke under the benevolence of hospice.

Jewish burial law and ritual keep the pine coffin simple, the shroud linen and the headstones either flat or small and conforming. No mausoleums or giant angels anywhere. My pat. grandfather and some of his relatives are stashed in a stone building almost the size of the Parthenon, somewhere in Long Island, where no one ever goes.

We also talk to each other about our wishes. Ideally, my sister wants to be left in a tree as carrion for the crows and raptors, but we are trying to explain that she needs an alternate plan.

rojo's avatar

@gailcalled “Glove Compartment”! I had never thought of that, and considering how much time we all spend in the car, an excellent suggestion. I empathize with your sister.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@gailcalled You are amazingly well organized. Fantastic.
If your sister lives near you, and she times her death for the 3rd or 4th week in April, the raptors will be passing through your area and will make short work of her.
For all other times of the year, I can offer a pack of coyote. They’ll make a 150 pound deer carcass disappear without a trace in a matter of days.
Of course, I’d have to alert the neighbors so there is no “misunderstanding”.

gailcalled's avatar

@LuckyGuy: I will be sure to pass your useful info on to my sister, who is four miles down the road. We have our own coyotes, but thanks anyway.

When my 96 year-old mother died in May of 2010, one of her gifts to us what having impeccable paper work, including the vital DNA order in order. So I decided to pass that on, one of the few useful gifts I received from her.

In her case, she and her ancient boyfriend also spent so much time at the local funeral parlor that they and the director were on a first-name basis. She had pre-paid and selected her coffin, her shroud and even the announcements in the NYT and the local rag. The family plot was purchased in 1960 by my father, who believed in really planning ahead.

Having her stipulate the readings, the rabbi, the graveside rites and the later memorial service at her independent living facility made it easy for us; we knew we were honoring her wishes.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@gailcalled If you decide to go the coyote route, please make a recording of the yips and howls. It will provide fitting background sound effects for the services 7 days, 30 days, and one year later.

On lighter but semi-related note, we had a party here in late Sept for about 30 people and were sitting around a campfire late at night when a couple of unseen coyote began to howl and call in the others. I’m guessing a pack took down a deer several hundred yards away in the woods. The sound was really frightening for the uninitiated – especially after the recent increase in vampire, werewolf, and walking dead TV shows. Even though I was armed (380 handgun – only 7 rounds) there was no way I was going to go out there in the dark to investigate. I just sat with everyone else at the fire and took another swig of Manischewitz Extra Heavy Malaga.

Unbroken's avatar

I need to do all of that and have been putting it off. I have informally discussed matters with various members of family and friends.

Since I am not a viable organ donor for most organs I kind of wish the rest left to science. I am not sure how that works.

I was considering a close friend for power of attorney. But not sure how to ask and if it would be upheld and well it could be a huge inconvenience to them. I also understand that immediate family would be upset.

Living will I was wondering if the one they give at hospital was thorough and legally satisficatory.

Oddly enough I need a god parent for my cat is my biggest concern. My family members are all allergic or at least one person from every household. And my friends either have all the pets they want or are not pet friendly. I would hate to see my cat go to the pound.

But I do have my life insurance and my retirement fund beneficiaries.. so that is a start.

Maybe I need a death website to make sure I am covered on all the bases.

Kayak8's avatar

Just a quick note to remind folks that the WILL is not the place to indicate one’s final wishes (as it is often not attended to until long after final wishes are carried out). There are other documents far more appropriate to explaining final wishes and the best way to ensure that YOUR wishes are carried out is pre-arrangement with a funeral home. Typically, they will honor your wishes unless someone else offers to pay their bill to ensure that their desire for your final disposition is carried out. Wills are for the transference of real property and nothing more . . .

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