“Is Your Funeral Planned?”

This August our community was saddened by 3 fatalities, in three separate accidents.

The celebration of life (funeral) for a young husband, father, and friend gripped us all, as we confronted our own mortality.

Planning a wedding and a funeral really is not that different, the costs are significant, but usually, a funeral is planned in 3 days or less, and you don’t know how many are coming.

As I celebrate a milestone birthday later this month, my goal is to have my funeral planned, so that my family knows my wishes. I also want to truthfully tell my coaching clients, that I too have faced my own death and letting-go issues with a plan for my home-going.

Heaven is a wonderful place, and grief is hard on the loved one left behind, so let’s make a checklist of things to talk about and write plans for.

  1. Burial…do you have a spot at the family plot? Is it well maintained? Can you plant a memorial tree there? What do we do with your ashes?
  2. Body…As you are dying, do you want to give new life to the organ recipients you have considered? Do you want to be cremated, or in form for a viewing? Do you want people to be able to touch your body as they say their goodbyes?
  3. Box…how fancy does it have to be? I have picked out 3 caskets in my lifetime, and I vote for the cheapest pine box, wrapped with a quilt. Some people store their caskets at home, but you can make other pre-arrangements! Cremation containers come in many formats.
  4. Bouquets…plant a tree in my memory, and have a few arrangements at my service, but don’t spend heaps on roses for my casket spray. I once made a casket spray using wheat, flax, ditch grasses, and tiger lilies for $35, not $350…you can do a great job yourself, but most people wouldn’t attempt this. What’s your favorite flower? Do you want graveside roses in vials for your mourning family? I have seen a toy tractor as part of the spray, and a viola at the altar.
  5. Bearers…who do you want to carry you to the grave? Women can be given this honor, too. The pallbearers might all wear matching tee shirts and jeans, which honors a young life lost. List a few alternates.
  6. Bulletins…Get your picture was taken, one you really like. In the digital world, lots of great photo stories are possible for the service bulletin. You can put a copy in your funeral plans file which you are starting after reading this article. I have also seen a video screen picture on the altar, and a PowerPoint picture as the banner for the service.
  7. Beliefs…What is your favorite Scripture verse or saying? A woman who died of cancer had a verse about “What Cancer Cannot Do”. You might have a special verse that describes your faith journey and encourages the mourners. What message do you want your pastor to preach?
  8. Blocks…of granite. Do you know what you want to be marked on your tombstone…or graveside marker? “Love one another” was my mother’s choice. My sister’s grave marker has her signature. A walk through the local cemetery will give you lots of ideas. I won’t have a picture of our farm, but this too has been done! Some families dedicate the marker a year after the burial.
  9. Blessing with music. Music is a powerful release and a great comforter. Choose the songs that are special to your journey which will bless the grieving congregation. I have witnessed young teens play for their dad’s funeral, and see the power of bagpipes and the violin as solos. “Jesus loves me” is universal in its healing power. Some younger folks tune in with popular CDs. Start collecting the tunes now that you want to be relayed at your life celebration. Three-part harmony was a real blessing at a graveside ceremony where family members and friends covered the grave by hand with long-handled spades. The physical action of laying the soil helps the healing process.
  10. Benefactor…which charity will receive donations in lieu of flowers? Do you have a special mission or local cause that you wish your friends will support in your memory? Will a trust fund be needed to support your dependent children?
  11. Balls and balloons. I have seen grandkids throw golf balls into the grave as they say farewell to a beloved grandfather. White balloons were a strong connection for our family to relate their love of fun to their deceased grandma who delighted in their water balloon games. The children released the balloons at the graveside.
  12. Biography…My favorite page of the Globe and Mail is the back page, where I read of a life well-lived. What key points do you need to jot down about your story? Would you spend some time writing your own obituary? This is a key area where your foresight could really help out your grieving family. Reading the eulogy, publishing the obituary, are big tasks, and you can soften the hardship by offering your words, recorded on paper and disk. Would you ask 3 friends from hockey, golf, and your Bible study group to speak about you?
  13. Buns…Raisin buns are a traditional funeral food, along with meat, cheese, pickles, and dainties. Breaking bread together around a table is a healing thing.

    There is a trend to have no funeral or a private graveside ceremony. I think this shortchanges the community. We need to grieve, hug, and talk about the loved one lost. Don’t forgo the chance to create a community bond of caring, have a funeral!

  14. Barrister…If it is true that 50% of the people reading this don’t have a will, that’s very sad news. Get your will updated, and chat with your beneficiaries about your wishes. Make a separate list of special belongings you want to go to specific people.
  15. Books…on planning your funeral are readily available from funeral directors.

“That which is good to be done, cannot be done too soon; and if it is neglected to be done early, it will frequently happen that it will not be done at all.” (Bishop Mant)

I really want us all to act on this. Written plans are a wonderful gift to the family left behind when they have some understanding of how you would like to be celebrated.

Elaine Froese is a catalyst for courageous conversations and change. Her passion is to encourage families to act on what they know they ought to do. Elaine is a professional speaker and certified family business coach from Boissevain, Manitoba.

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Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.


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Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
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Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
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James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
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Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
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Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
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“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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