"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: How to Plan Your Funeral

Thursday, January 11, 2007

How to Plan Your Funeral

Do you have a funeral plan? Do you think it would help your loved ones if they knew your preferences?

Marian's death has inspired me to think about these things. While not legally binding, a funeral plan might be helpful to my loved ones when I am whisked away. If nothing else, it will leave them no doubts as to my preferences, even if they choose to disregard them.

This website offers assistance.

For starters, I'd prefer to have my body donated to science and then cremated, with the ashes dispersed in some location near a big rock or tree stump, on which the kids can sit and reflect on our life together. The woods, the lake, the shore, the mountain, the San Juans . . . all good. If they like, they can plant a tree to remind them of the web of life in which we are all suspended (our family's penchant for commemorative planting has overwhelmed our city lot, so they would need to find another bit of earth).

Family viewing is okay, but I do not want my body and its "state of grace" (actually said by some to be discernable in one's final facial expression, no kidding) to be objects of curiousity and gossip in a church I didn't attend. This could conceivably come to pass if my husband were to die with me. I would hope better sense would prevail.

Our kids are not old enough to plan it, but a "celebration of life" is what I would want for their sake, among people who know and love us. With flowers -- peonies if they are in season, but anything fragrant will do -- and music. Lots of music, of all kinds, preferably live. Bizet's "Au Fond du Temple Saint" and "I'll Fly Away" (by Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch).

And you?


  1. Gee Free.....
    Did you scare everyone away. I once took a class called Death and Dying. We had to write our own obituary for the end of class and read it out loud. You know, torture style, at the front of the class. Was a very odd experience. I have made a few requests over the years but nothing in writing. Personally, I could care less if I'm cremated and scattered or buried. I'm gonna have other things on my plate then! I just wish I could come back with proof for a few people that are sure I'm going to H E double hockey sticks for not being an Apostolic! But they probably still wouldn't see. I want happy songs at my funeral though. Because I'll be singing like a songbird with a beautiful voice that will rival the Vienna Boys Choir. That and eating all the chocolate and ice cream I want!

  2. My grandmother passed away in August. She had written down (many years ago} exactly what her final wishes were right down to the songs she wanted, what kind & color flowers, what she wanted to wear, what kind of service & where, etc. This was kept in a hope chest & a copy in a safe deposit & her attorney also had one. My mother was given a copy as well as myself. I have lost quite a few in my life & cannot tell you what a blessing it was for all of us, that she did this. There was no room for error, no dreadful details to handle when you are mourning, nothing to argue about & best of all, we never had to assume or guess at what she might have wanted. I encourage everyone to do the same, no matter your health or age status. This final gift she left us was so comforting through it all. I believe the funeral homes all have pre-planning guides they will give you for free, even if you do not hold your service there. It is just a place to write some wishes & things down. Make copies & distribute them to a couple of people so that each can hold the other to your final wishes!
    It isnt a fun thing to plan, but doing this will show those you leave behind that you cared enough not to leave them holding the bag. As for those who wont follow your final wishes, Jesus says we will all be together again someday. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask them why & in the meantime, they have to live with their own concious knowing that they did not fulfill your wishes. Let HIM make their hearts heavy over it, not us!

  3. Many Trails Home1/15/2007 12:03:00 PM

    Well, Free, I don't want to appear "scared away" but I really don't have any strong opinions about this. I'd like it to be simple and short, and not cost anyone a small fortune - no mahogany casket for me! I'm more interested in getting the "Saying Goodbyes" right. I'm hoping for an opportunity to say the 5 things that need to be said when we are dying (according to a Death and Dying lecture I once heard): They are:
    1. Thank you
    2. I love you (I hope to say that several times, and make sure I am heard)
    3. I forgive you
    4. Do you forgive me?
    5. Goodbye.
    Rather cuts to the chase, doesn't it? I have already started practicing it, while still living and not, as far as I know, actively dying. MTH

  4. Thanks for posting on this evidently unpopular topic. I've heard that in Europe people have picnics in cemeteries . . . could this be true? Anyway, in our death-denying, youth-worshiping culture, it takes conscious effort to face death squarely, but it makes life all the sweeter. I guess we are all actively dying, in a manner of speaking. MTH, your 5 things are inspiring and I have just said them to the memory of a friend who died recently, because I didn't get the chance beforehand. Bless you all -- and please forgive ME for all the mistakes I've made on this blog. I'm very grateful for the friendships here!

  5. Free, I am very thankful for your website and for your helpful, caring posts. You have helped me immensely in my struggle with the church. God bless you.

  6. LLLreader sez: I wrote my funeral plans (and my obituary) several years ago. When one has had cancer, one tends to get prepared. I wanted to let my loved ones know how much I appreciated them, and how I appreciated my life. I try to live in a way that demonstrates that appreciation, but it can't hurt to have it mentioned! I haven't shared it with my family, but they know how to find my plans when they need them. I am going to be cremated and have two songs played, Marion Anderson singing "His Eye is on The Sparrow" and Elvis "How Great Thou Art". It's going to be simple and short.

  7. oalcdoubter, thanks for the kind words; it means SO MUCH to know you have been helped by this site. (Periodically I ask myself: er, should I just move on now? and then someone reminds me of what we're doing here).

    BTW, I just found out that the OALC asked Helena to sell her site and purchased several other domains with variations of the OAL name. NObody has made me an offer for this site. Chopped liver?!

    LLLreader, I'm sorry you've had the c-scare, and glad you are on the other side of it. Can't wait to check out your songs. (Elvis! LOL. My hub and I sang "Love me Tender" to each other at our wedding . . . and had a duo sing "Au Fond du Temple Saint" which isn't quite right for a funeral, but . . . I guess the living can sort that out).

    Someday I'll post about meeting James Brown -- how about "I Feel Good" for a funeral ?

    Whoa-oa-oa! I feel good, I knew that I would, now
    I feel good, I knew that I would, now
    So good, so good, I got you

  8. I don't think the subject is taboo at all. I think preplanning for your funeral is fine, if that's important to you. As others have pointed out, it certainly takes a burden off the shoulders of the family if the details have been worked out in advance and the family doesn't have to try to fit those details into a schedule that suddenly has gone chaotic.

    As far as I'm concerned, I couldn't care less. I do not plan to attend, other than perhaps some old worn out hull that I've used over the years might be there -- don't know, don't care. I suppose if I had my druthers, it'd be cremate me, and scatter the ashes over my old hunting grounds. If it's too hard to do that, then plant them in the garden. I won't need them anymore.

    If I was really ornery, I'd ask that the folks sing "Jopa Loppui Päivän Vaivat" (Now has ended days' troubles is the literal translation) as it is a favorite of mine, but I'd hate to have my non-Finnish speaking friends try to do that, as I think that would be a sure bet for "se meni penkkin alle" (that tune went under the bench) as the old time lukkaris (songleaders) used to say. I think at my Mother's funeral a couple of years ago, there were only about a half dozen of us multilingual types who could manage that, and since I have no immediate plans of shuffling off this mortal coil, those last ones will likely be gone as well. My friends can sing whatever they want, if they want to sing.

    Flowers? Keep 'em. If you want me to have flowers, give them to me while I can smell them. If I have a grave and anyone puts flowers on it, my three children have been charged with throwing them in the garbage. My Dad, at the funeral of an old lady who was honored by the American Legion as a Gold Star Mother and a red rose laid on her cover, told me that he wondered if anyone ever gave "Katy" a rose while she was alive. He charged me with the same responsibility, and I honor it faithfully. My sister can never figure out where her flowers disappear to...

    My instructions? Do not grieve for me. Think of the times when I may have made you chuckle...or think. If you wish, you can even shake your head and laugh at the old hard headed Finn you knew. My best legacy are my three children. I think you'd all like them, as they are nice people, and smart, and funny, and kind, and I am so proud of them. And did I mention they are all die hard Republicans as well...? (Bet ya didn't see that one coming, did you, Free? :-))

  9. I don't really care what they do as long as they have an Orthodox funeral for me and as long as they don't cremate me. The Orthodox funeral has a lot of prayers said for the deceased, i.e. it's not just for the mourners, and we consider the body to be as much a part of the person as his soul is, i.e. it should be treated with reverence as it has been temporarily separated from the soul and is waiting for the moment when it is reunited with the soul, so it should not be burned but treated as the person it used to be.

    But other than that I don't really care, the rest of it deals more with the mourners than the deceased, so I guess it's up to them to do whatever they want.


    Free2beme, yes, in some areas in Europe they do have picnics in cemeteries. That's the case at least in Russia, where they typically build a fence around the family grave. Inside the fence they put a table and some benches and chairs. When they come to commemorate the deceased on the general days of commemoration or on the anniversary of the death of a particular deceased, they have a commemoration meal sitting on the benches and chairs (sometimes accompanied with a prayer service). I've seen some Russian style fences and benches also in some Orthodox cemeteries in Finland, but not to the same extent as in Russia. In Finland, the most widespread custom associated with cemeteries is the lighting of candles on the graves, which is done by most Finns regardless of their religion on special days of commemoration (e.g. Christmas) or whenever one feels like doing it.

  10. I hadn't really thought about planning my funeral, but I think its great! That website you gave is a place to start!
    Free I would also like to express my gratitude for this site. It has also helped me immensely in my search for truth. I think we forget sometimes to thank people and I want to thank you for having the courage to put it up. I think it has probably helped more people than you know! We are blessed to have you. I never realized there were so many Laestadian groups before I found this site.I know I have spoken some very personal thoughts and sometimes get nauseous thinking about it, but if I can inspire just one person that Christ can be found outside these churches, its worth it to me.
    So thanks for giving me the opportunity to express myself, and thanks for putting up this website, much needed indeed!

    A friend from college passed away several years ago and at her funeral her parents were comforting others and not others comforting them. They just seemed so happy. Her dad was a pastor and he said he was glad she was in heaven. Talk about courage! I would be in tears!

  11. A little off the subject, but does anyone know when the no-necktie dress code started in the OALC and who started it? And how it eventually became a downright "sin" if you do wear it? From old pictures, it seemed like men weren't seen without ties.

  12. Faith, you are a sweetheart, thank you. I think the saddest funerals are solemn affairs conducted by clergy who never knew the deceased -- while the happiest are those where personal memories are shared and smiles are welcome.

    For me, cremation seems pragmatic and so do green burials, which save money, land and the aquafir. Conventional burials typically involve toxic embalming fluids (which leak into the ground water and water supply), wood caskets (with toxic glues) and concrete or metal vaults. All of which constitute denial of the inevitable -- dust to dust -- and make for some unnatural biodegradation.

    You can read about green burials here.

    As for neckties, our family album has a photo of a Finnish relative taken perhaps in 1920. He is dashing in a suit and necktie. Below it is an explanation, carefully penned by his OALC son, that the photo was taken "before he came into the Living Christianity." For the record, ya know.

    Somewhere in the blog archives there is a discussion of neckties . . . I seem to remember an idea that rejecting them was a Finnish peasant's rejection of urban ways.

    (Cvow, crusty as you are, I'm sure you will love your kids just as much when they come to their senses :-)

  13. Free, you seem very creative, I think you are a writer or something like that? I just had an idea I thought would be cool. Would you be able to write an I have a dream poem about Christianity, something like Martin Luther said? If not, thats ok. I thought it'd be neat. I have a dream that one day I will not be judged by the style of my appearance or by the objects I choose to enjoy, but rather by the moral of my character, etc. Just a thought.

  14. or rather Martin Luther King Jr. said. LOL

  15. Faith, you've already written it, LOL.

    I think it's important to mention that unlike Dr. King's audience, we are free. Former Laestadians may be discriminated against by some, even denied access to home, hearth and inheritance, but we are free, and as powerful as we choose to be. Say it, own it, act on it: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

  16. I love it! Your so much wiser than I. I am free and I love it, I have to remember that! Too bad my family doesn't think so, but oh well, life goes on eh.

  17. Not wiser, Faith, just older. MY folks think I stepped off the deep end. (And I have. The water's excellent.)

    Seriously, it takes patience but you will re-create a family that gives you the unconditional love you deserve.

  18. You don't look that old. How about more intellectual, spiritually mature. I am in my early thirties, but still immature in my spirituality. I just found Christ a few months ago. Its definetely a growing process. Exciting one for sure.
    Good info about green burials. Definetely something to think about. I wouldn't have even thought about it. Thanks for all your great information you provide!

  19. What I thought would be cool is writing a letter to everyone to be read at your funeral. Something different but neat.

  20. As the Bible says; "Verily I say onto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." I do not sense a child like faith reading this website. My prayers are with all of you that God may open your eyes and transform your anger into love and kindness.

  21. I need to proof read before I send, geez. Maybe some are angry at the way they have been treated and if they keep trust in the Lord, they will heal. I for one, have moved on from that and have found peace in my Lord and Saviour. Your absolutely right, one must become a little child in order to enter the kingdom. I did! I trusted God and not man. Sometimes one can only see what one wants to.

  22. Free,

    In regards to the OALC wanting to buy Helena's site and not yours, Helena's site has the OALC name explicitly in it while yours doesn't. So, that's probably why the OALC wanted to buy her site and not yours.

  23. Do you think if they bought it, they would start their own site?

  24. They actually called, and asked for my husband (whatever he has to do with this), and asked him if we could give them the site so they could start one of their own. My husband, bewildered, wondered why they were going to start a site when they are against the internet...
    They said they are in the building process and want something about Parr Lumber and to put up service times or something. He said we wouldn't be interested in giving it up right now, but there are other domain names available.
    On a whim, Artie and I decided to go to whois.net and check the other domain names to see if they were indeed still available. They weren't, because at least 10 had been gobbled up by an OALC preacher. Artie called that man back up, who then apologized for misrepresenting why he wanted the site.

    As I understand it, there is a cyber-squatting law in which a corporation can get their (trademarked) domain name if someone has purchased it. I imagine it's a bit more sticky for a church, since church names aren't trademarked and I could start a church by the same name tomorrow. It is possible that the OALC could take it from me, but they'd have to sue. I suppose I would probably welcome the publicity more than they would, :)

    Bring it on!

  25. Helena's site has a .com ending. Usually a church wouldn't use that ending, because .com signified commercial.

    Neckties: I remember a preacher calling them a male version of the woman's necklace. The necklace was described as lying in the same place where the whip lashed around Jesus' throat. The brooch was where the hook at the end of the whip ripped a chunk of flesh from Jesus' chest. Man, typing that out disgusts me! I'm glad I'm free from that.

    The burial industry turns me off. Who needs a $15,000 casket? I told my family I'd like the "welfare casket," and it was describe to me once. Now, I probably wouldn't even want a casket: cremation and sprinkling sound fine. As for the funeral, I agree it's mostly for the living. I'd be offended now if I knew it would heavy of the religion I've left behind, but I'll be gone then, so I won't care.

  26. Sorry, off subject. I just thought maybe some people are a little confused about spiritual maturity and being a little child to enter the kingdom. I know I was, so just some info I thought may be good. This is just my perspective:
    We are to become like little children to enter into the kingdom, give our life to God and trust him to take care of us. Then he wants us to grow up and become more like Christ. It is not his intention for us to remain babies. We will always be children unto him and trust him, he is our father. But we need to become mature. Ephesians 4:14-16 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligagment, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
    Just a thought...don't want to argue.

  27. Faith, that is a good point. Actually, we are always as little children, that is how we remain in a sense.. but God does want us to mature.. excellent reference. I don't want anyone to think I'm opposed, I'm not anti-LLL, except to say that it's okay, and we should, go on and grow..

  28. You know its funny that I have never thought that planning my own funeral or memorial service would make things easier for the people I left behind. I always wanted whatever was easiest and cheapest, but not a single preference; I wont be here, I could care less. I believe that whatever will help them move on and rejoice with me that I am in a better place will do just fine. The funeral is for the living. I suppose I should let them know I feel this way though :p

    My husband wants an Irish funeral; everyone dances, celebrates and drinks for a week and tells stories of memories about the deceased. (Ive heard this was just in case they werent really dead, but I still like the great ambiance of it :)

    For me, I like to have a place to go to, for memories and to feel like I can connect. My stepmom died and my dad gave us each some of her ashes. My sister wears hers around her neck. We each have a way.

    I can only hope there will be many touched by my existance, who will have seen Jesus in me, and that I will be remembered as Marian was; as a follower of Christ who quietly inpired others to do the same.

    This last year I became very sick and collapsed to die. I had no pulse, no blood pressure, no signs of life. It has taken me all year to recover, and Im still not my old self; and while it has been EXTREMELY frustrating most often to not be up to my usual level of whirlwind activity, I have had so many, many blessings. (I still never thought about a funeral, but I have focused so much on LIVING)

    I have realized life is in the moments and I have been forced to slow down and enjoy minute by minute. I have been forced to SIT, which has helped me learn to listen; to others and to Gods quiet voice. As my pastor said last Sunday, if we are in a "winter season", grab a blanket, cuddle by the fire and take time to sit and get to know God better. In retrospect, I have had more growth than any other time in my life, spiritually, emotionally, etc, it has been the best thing that has happened to me and to everyone around me! I have slowed down, I listen and observe more, I have much more patience than Ive ever hoped to have, I am thankful for life on a minute by minute basis now, I have had time to tell people I love them, to ask forgiveness and to forgive (sometimes just work on it a lot, but thats the right direction too)

    Its taken me a week to catch up on everyones posts, and while it may be interesting to comment, I would like to keep the conversaion current, but still take time to say how much I have missed everyone and thoroughly enjoyed reading thoughts and feelings, ideas and insight. My husband always teases me and askes which oalc site I am on now? but we both know this has been a tremendous source of growth for me also, so thank you all for sharing your stories, helping me and many others sort out the smokescreen and the vulnerable exposed feelings we can have, on to a better life with Christ. So many of you say it so well and I am so encouraged. Thanks again all my family in Christ.

  29. "I have slowed down, I listen and observe more, I have much more patience than Ive ever hoped to have, I am thankful for life on a minute by minute basis now, I have had time to tell people I love them, to ask forgiveness and to forgive"

    thank you hp3 -- i'm glad you are here

  30. LLLreader sez: The death of Marian is still on my mind, as I imagine it is on many minds. Last week I attended the funeral of a dear friend, age 61, who was killed in an accident on the same road as Marian. Today I went to say goodby to a wonderful friend, age 62, who was diagnosed on Christmas Day with a brain tumor, and now has just days to live. I love her so much, we have had so much fun together. When I saw her with all her tubes ect. I said "Well, what's new?" She answered immediately, "Oh, off hand, can't think of much". We have had the kind of wonderful friendship where you laugh so hard you wet your pants, and you can call each other at 2:00 am if you need to. You women all know how wonderful those kind of friends are. She is a deeply spiritual, loving, and caring daughter of God--just like the other two. All three looked for ways to help--to do God's work--to be of aid to their fellow travelers. I am just overwhelmed, that three women I knew, so near in age, and so much alike, would die so suddenly. The only thing I can think of to do is to try to be a better person myself.

  31. LLL reader, that is so sad. My sympathy to you.

    Hp3, very eloquently written.. just beautiful. I've been in a winter period like that for several years now, but recently things seem to be going a little better. It sounds as though you certainly did have a serious health scare, I hope you're feeling better every day.. but it's true, I think there is a reason and we, or God, can use it for good. I keep telling myself that every day, especially when I'm feeling particularly useless.

    As far as planning my funeral, I hadn't previously thought about it at all. It would be in my home church and I would be buried in our small local cemetary unless I specify otherwise. Dh and I should really take some steps to make things easier when the time comes. Buy our cemetary plots for one thing. Some people have their stones in place, complete with engraving for both husband and wife. "1933 - ". That empty space waiting to be filled under each name. We're living "in the dash", as an email that circulated a few years ago stated. Maybe it would be good to do something like that, to have that visual image in mind - that our days here are finite. Music - there is so much music that I love, it's hard to narrow it down. Amazing Grace. Carly Simon singing "Danny Boy". Lots of flowers, because the living would be comforted by them.

    Cvow, I know that Finnish song "Jopa Loppui Päivän Vaivat" (Now the cares of day are ended) and many others very well as I'm an organist.. Do you have those old hymnals available to you? If not and if you're interested I could give you some sources.. Music is so powerful.

  32. hp3, I was glad to see you post again! You and Norah and lllreader had some great thoughts to share -- thank you all for that!

    Yes, Norah, I do have many of the old hymnals (being a bookworm and collector does have its benefits). Many of them are very old, and written in the old Finnish text (whatever that font might be called) which, through many hours spent with my Mother and her old Aapinen (child's primer), I'm able to read! I love so many of those old Finnish hymns, and sadly hear them very seldom. My future grandchildren -- should my children ever figure out the biology and God is willing -- will get to hear those from Grandpa!