Tuesday 9 February 2016

A letter to my children

I have written a letter to my children.  It is to be opened on my death.  It contains instructions for my funeral.

No I have not been diagnosed with anything life threatening.  There is no cause for panic.  Hopefully they won't be opening it for a long time yet and I may even have edited it in the meantime.

Some of you may think this is quite morbid.  However, having spent time last week assisting my husband and his 7 siblings prepare for his Mum's funeral, which took place on Thursday, I think it's the right thing to do.   Maybe if there were less of them it might have been easier.  There were lots of opinions to be combined without upsetting anyone.   But the closeness they share has given them a combined strength and we got through.

Of course it has still been a difficult time with lots of decisions to be made.  Should they provide clothes for her body?  What to do with her ashes?  Which music to play at the crematorium?  That produced a lot of debate.  As did if we aren't having flowers and people offer donations, which charity should we nominate?  Steering 8 opinions into 1 decision was sometimes easy but often tricky.

Inevitably we were all sad, but this was not a tragic or unexpected death.  My MIL was 87 and her life had been happy.  Yet still the siblings struggled with the arrangements.  There were no instructions.  How people cope when a death is sudden or in difficult circumstances I do not know.

It took me back to when I had to arrange my Mother's funeral.  I wasn't prepared for the questions.  We'd discussed burial v cremation - cremation was favoured.  I knew what to do with her ashes.  (Have them placed under the same rose bush as my Dad.)  I had no answers for other things.

I decided then that I wouldn't put my children (or husband) through the same dilemma.  I would make it clear for them.  My Mum passed away in 2012 but I hadn't got around to putting pen to paper.  Now on the passing of my MIL I have found the determination needed to consider my plans.

I hope that when the time comes it will make it easier for my children. 


  1. Absolutly the right thing to have done. We struggled when Mum died but we had Dad to help us, although he didn't really know what she would have wanted for herself. When we lost him we really struggled with all the choices to be made.

    Coralie commented how much easier it would be if everyone left a written note of their wishes. Makes it easier for those left behind, if there are fewer decsions to make and also you can be assured that you are doing what that person wanted for themselves.

    I said I would do it but have yet to get around to it. You have prompted me to think about it again. xx

  2. yes it is the right thing. Thank you for reminding me so that I can get onto this too.

  3. I think this is the right thing to do, too. You and I both lost a parent in 2012. I lost my daddy. I am sorry for the loss of your mother and your mother-in-law.

    While letting the children know your final wishes will ease that part for them, there is no preparing for the grief that is to come. Even when the illness is extended and the death is expected, there's just no real preparing oneself for it. It still hurts. :(

    Here's to a very long life ahead of you and your husband and children!

    Have a blessed day.

  4. In India, we are not so open about talking on this topic - like what should you do when I die kind of question. There is a will but that's a different topic.
    So, I like your idea and maybe I would like to leave that for my husband. But I don't know you will go first. Gosh! Now I am confused. Something to think about though.

  5. Definitely the right thing to do. My Mum left all the details for her funeral, right down to the music she wanted played as we went into the service and as we left it. She always did take care of everything for us. It's a good thing too, because my Dad, my sister and I pretty much fell apart when she died and were next to useless.

  6. Your post comes at a good time for me, as we absolutely need to overcome our own inertia and denial to spell out the nitty and the gritty. We have our legal paperwork all done, such as giving power of attorney to make medical decisions to the right people and declaring to one another once in awhile, "Shoot me if it comes to that." But not really a plan, especially for our kids and friends who will be left to deal with the nitty gritty. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Lorrie at www.shrinkrapped.com

  7. It's on my bucket list!! thanks for the reminder...

    Gail Park

    Making Life an Art

  8. I gave my own family a few brief written instructions several years ago after my Mother's death, and I also asked my children to write down any strong wishes or thoughts that they had. My own mother hadn't given us much direction. I believe it was something she did not feel comfortable thinking about or talking about. My Dad was a bit more specific with his wishes, and even with 6 of us children working together, for the most part we were able to agree on the arrangements, I think we came up with very nice services for both of our parents.

  9. I promised my husband and children I would never give them instructions on what to do upon my death. My mother and father didn't give instructions either. I want my loved ones to do whatever the heck they want to do... for me... with me... because of me... when I die. I won't know the difference. *lol* If having a big hoopla will make them feel better, then go for it. If quietly telling me good-bye and then resuming their lives right away is what's going to be easiest for them, I say do it! Again, I won't have a clue. All I know is that I'll be alright and they will too, in time. :) ~Andrea (new to your blog and happened to read this "featured" entry from your sidebar)

  10. I just discovered your letter. Rick didn't want to talk about funerals he avoided the subject, when I asked him if he wanted a cremation or a funeral, he answered "do what you want" ! And I did as it was nothing religious I just did what he loved. Dario put a book for his trip, Toby designs he had made, and I a photo of his beloved white cat Arthur. That was him. The music was easy, I choose one for me, Dario for him, and the two Italian songs from Rick's Italian "Rock" idol, Celentano. I gave Dario all passwords and bank accounts and then he can do with me what he wants ! That's the advantage when you are an only child.


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