Thinking Ahead

Week 5: Remembrance Event

To properly Think Ahead about your remembrance event, you have to be as detail-oriented as you would be if you were planning a wedding. Venues, catering, readings, music – all can play a huge role in both very somber and “celebratory” remembrance events.

Think about who should have the honor to make these events happen, and think about a lasting memorial that you can be remembered by. Keep in mind the resources that you know that you have from the past few weeks of contacting all those professionals.

Talk About It

The remembrance events are all about you, but they are really more for your loved ones. If there’s anyone who you believe may have an especially difficult time recovering from your loss, then ask them what kind of memorial would help them feel at peace. Loved ones can also chip in ideas for readings, locations, and other aspects of your remembrance event.

Day 29: Your Remembrance Event

Whatever you have decided that your remembrance event should be, now is the time to describe exactly how you want it to go. Some funeral directors will do this for you, but if you want something other than a traditional funeral, then you should clarify your wishes with your funeral director and your loved ones. Some of these things are possible to preplan, but for some you will just have to make a note of it and let your loved ones know what you would like.

  • If you wish to have a religious service, research what is acceptable for your faith’s remembrance events.
  • Choose readings that you wish to have read at your remembrance event.
  • Choose a location for your remembrance event.
  • If choosing a funeral, consider what you would like to be wearing, especially if it’s an open casket funeral.
  • If you would like music, choose musicians or create your ideal playlist.
  • Select a basic menu for your guests
  • If choosing an untraditional memorial service, research what things you will need to purchase in advance or have at the time of need in order for your wishes to be fulfilled.
  • Especially if choosing an untraditional memorial service, describe the dress code for the event.

Day 30: Event Coordinators

Of course, a remembrance event needs caring friends and family to orchestrate the event and make sure everything goes according to your plans. Today, think about who you want to speak or officiate at your remembrance event. And, of course, think about who you would want to invite.

  • Choose someone to officiate the remembrance event.
  • Designate people who you believe should be involved in planning your remembrance event.
  • Choose people to carry the urn or pallbearers for the casket.
  • Choose people who you would like to give eulogies or readings.
  • Create the first draft of an invite list.

Day 31: Sympathy Gifts

One tradition in remembrance events is to give the deceased flowers as a tribute to their memory. If you would like, you can specify what kinds of flowers you prefer. Neptune Society happens to work very closely with 1-800-Flowers, and they offer a variety of sympathy flower bouquets and other kinds of floral arrangements.

However, there has been a recent trend to donate money that would be spent on flowers to a charity or organization instead. If you prefer this option, you can choose an organization or cause that you have supported or admired and simply request that all gifts be donations.

Whether you would prefer flowers, donations, gift baskets for your loved ones, volunteer time, or something else entirely, think about how you would like people to show their sympathies.

  • Decide what you would like people to give in your memory.
  • If choosing floral arrangements, look at 1-800-Flowers or other flower arrangements for inspiration for what you would like.
  • If choosing donations, pick where you would like the donations to go.
  • If choosing something else, describe it so your loved ones know what to ask for.

Day 32: Scattering Ideas

For those choosing cremation, the scattering of ashes can be just as or even more significant that a memorial service. Because of this, those choosing to scatter ashes should give some thought to where and when they would like to do so.

Some of the best places to scatter are national and state parks. They usually have a very clear permit on their website for scattering, so you know you’re doing everything legally. Also, the natural splendor of many national parks make them a gorgeous, natural backdrop to the event. Just keep in mind that your loved ones will most likely have to go at least 100ft off the beaten path to scatter.

Scatterings at sea are also very popular. Many companies offer sea scattering services bundled with cremation services. By law, sea scatterings are conducted at least three nautical miles from shore, and the numerous permits and notifications required makes it far easier to contact a company that specializes in such services than to do it yourself. However, families are usually welcome to accompany the captain in scattering the ashes.

Air scatterings are when ashes are scattered over an area by a plane. Laws state that no harmful objects may be dropped from an airplane, so ashes, being lightweight and nontoxic, are safe to scatter this way. However, the urn and any bone fragments must be disposed of separately.

  • If you wish to be scattered, choose a meaningful location or set of locations.
  • If applicable, choose a time when you would like the scattering to take place (during winter or on a special anniversary, for example).
  • Choose people who you would like to participate in the scattering.

Day 33: Crazy Cremation

Memorial services and scattering aren’t the only options for those choosing cremation. There are a whole host of interesting things to do with ashes. Diamonds, outer space, records, and tattoos are some new final resting places for ashes. Most of these methods require only a very small amount of ashes, so you can choose to both scatter and do one of these options.

Neptune Society also has a wide selection of memorial jewelry and keepsakes available. Most of them take a very small portion of the ashes and keep them in a charm or another special piece, making them a perfect way to share ashes among numerous family members.

  • Consider if you would like any kind of memorial keepsakes.
  • Consider if you would like any other kind of “out-of-the-box” memorial.

Day 34: Things to Leave Behind

One of the most touching things a family can receive is a letter or little gift from their loved one who had passed away. Write a letter, leave a little memento, or record a message in your own voice for your loved ones to receive later. Think of things that will be comforting to your friends and family after you are gone. You can also add stories about you or your family. Don’t be afraid to get creative or crafty!

While you’re at it, one note that everyone will read about you will be your obituary. If you have anything you’d like to have in there, such as your schooling or important life events, go ahead and mention that as well.

  • Create something to give to your loved ones after you pass away.
  • Choose a flattering photo of yourself that you would like to be next to your obituary or other memorials.
  • Jot down notes of things you want mentioned in your obituary.

Day 35: Continuing Memorial

There will be holidays or other special events when loved ones may have a tough time going on without you. For example, if you’ve always made Thanksgiving dinner, loved ones may miss your presence and your hosting.

Try teaching the next generation to step into your shoes once you’re gone, and consider adding a little tradition that your family can carry on while you’re gone. For example, you could ask that they make your favorite meal on your birthday or that a specific prayer is said during difficult holidays. You can also opt for a yearly tradition to memorialize you and other family members who have passed away.

  • Choose a place where loved ones can gather to remember you, whether it be a gravesite, cremation niche, or a park that you adore.
  • Brainstorm the days that you think will be most difficult for loved ones after you have passed away.
  • Consult with loved ones to find ways to make some of these days easier.
  • Consider having a yearly tradition.