An Unexpected, Unusual Gift

by Jill Francis on April 2nd, 2013

Many years ago, I sat with a friend near the graveside where we had just laid his brother-in-law to rest.  As we sat talking, he pointed to his sister and mentioned the “vultures” that were asking her to write them at check at the graveside, a check for funeral and burial expenses.  I remember that he was angry as he watched her, feeling as though it was completely out of line for her to have to conduct business at such a difficult time; and I agreed.
The memory returned to me a few years ago when my father told me that he had pre-paid his funeral in the event that he passed away before my mother, the Alzheimer’s patient.  He said that he didn’t want me to have to worry about how to take care of the “business” part of his death and take care of Momma at the same time.  At the time, I realized that the simple act of pre-paying his funeral was actually a gift to me, but as time has passed, I have grown to truly appreciate that simple act and the extent of the gift.
The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is paralyzing at best, and when the shock wears off you have to find a way to cope with the “long good-bye”. For me, one of the ways to cope was to look for the good in the difficult.  One of the good things, one of the advantages to a long-term illness is that it gives you time to plan for the final good-bye…and pre-paying a funeral is one of those ways to plan.
Since paying for his own funeral, my father has also gone ahead and paid for Momma’s; this way, when she has said her final “good-bye”, all we will have to do is make a phone call and the funeral home will do everything else.  We will be free to comfort and console one another, rather than having to write checks and worry about expenses.  As difficult as death is, planning for some parts of the process will remove unnecessary burdens when your family is most vulnerable and distraught and when those things should be the last things on anyone’s “to do” list.
Planning for the final good-bye is a gracious gift you can give your loved ones…so they’re not standing by your graveside writing a check.
Jill Francis

Posted in Stories    Tagged with Planning, Alzheimer's, Funerals, Gifts


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