I was recently told a story about a 96 year old woman who knew the end was coming and was planning her funeral. She was going through the list of family, friends and close associates who would be involved in her final celebration. As she made her list of invitees she also took inventory of the issues and dynamics between each of them.
She became concerned about how her daughters would handle her death and deal with each other. They never got along and the stress of her death would only make it worse. Could both of these selfish women get over themselves long enough to make their mother’s funeral special?
Then there was the Pastor and his wife, the music director of the church, who had recently been divorced and now hated each other. She wondered if she would have to make a choice as to which one to invite. The Pastor couldn’t sing and the wife couldn’t preach so it would be a difficult situation.
What about her long time bridge partners? The only thing they all had in common was that they enjoyed playing bridge. They were the most competitive women she knew. She knew her funeral would end up being a competition for best dressed, most tears and biggest flower arrangement.
The story reminded me of something a resident of a retirement home said about planning his funeral, “Man it’s a good thing I don’t have to do this twice, the stress is going to kill me.”
We often let our own issues, selfish issues, take over at the end of a loved one’s life. It is a difficult time for everyone involved, but isn’t it more important to value and respect the wishes of our loved ones and assure them that their wishes will be honored, than to be “right” or get our way?