If you were to ask the general public if they have pre-planned their death, you are typically going to hear the reply “no”. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 70% of all North Americans have no arrangements set into place. I won’t lie, I am one of them. It’s just something that most people don’t care much to think about. After a couple heart procedures and several other surgeries, I find myself looking more closely at the situation and what it is offered to me as options.
In my research, I have found that there are many options that are surfacing fast to accommodate people that just don’t want a typical funeral. My biggest fear is people standing over me and making comments along the lines of “He’s in a better place now”. I want people to celebrate my life and think about all the things that I loved doing and sharing with my family and friends. I want the comments to be more like “Wow, he sure loved the springtime and going to the Reds’ games” or “Do you remember the time that we all went….”. A funeral, in my opinion, should be about people remembering all the things that brought happiness in your lives together, not so much about dwelling on the death of the person.
As I continue to narrow down exactly how I want my funeral to go, I find myself a little bit excited about pre-planning a funeral when I look at custom or themed casket or even and urn. The picture above is a teddy bear urn. That is not something you would have expected to see in the past, but things are changing. Suddenly it isn’t quite as boring. “Excited” may not be the correct term, as I am by no means jazzed up over the thought of my own death, but I am well-aware that it is inevitable. As I age, I give it more regular thought anyway. I am always reminded of my father who joked “Just put me in a pine box out back”, but when he passed unexpectedly at a young age, my mother had to make all of the decisions spur of the moment in an obviously emotional and mournful time. I don’t want to do that to my wife and family if, God forbid, something happens to me. As I look at myself, I realize that I do identify with many products and that I would like something a bit unique for my funeral or ceremony. I must say, that I am generally the type of person that doesn’t do a lot to make myself stand out in a crowd, but this idea does appeal to me.
This world is forever changing. In fact, the National Funeral Directors Association 2007 study showed that 23% of the respondents want a “very personalized funeral”. The Association believes that this number is going to continue to grow exponentially. The younger generation seems to be based more and more on individualism and uniqueness. It doesn’t matter if it is a haircut, piercing, clothes, tattoo, attitude, or simply identifying with a particular brand or theme. No one seems to want to “blend” anymore. Having 5 kids of my own, I certainly am reminded of this fact on a daily basis. I’m not even sure if there even is a mainstream anymore unless you want to call “variety” the mainstream. When I showed my son a Major League Baseball licensed casket, he responded by saying “That’s really cool”, which is the sort of reaction that I thought I would get from him. Now,I don’t think that he has any real grasp on the concept of his father’s death, but what I was looking for was his reaction towards the idea. I expected the uniqueness to appeal to him and it did. I will not even give one second of thought to something happening to my own kids, but on a more global level, I would suspect that more and more custom products will be available for them to choose from as time passes and they age. I bet this is the wave of future when it comes to funerals slowly coming in from sea.
So take the fear and boredom out of pre-planning a funeral. It is someday going to be necessary and you should realize that your options are not as plain as they have been for so many years.