I’m glad you found me here–I hope you’ll come again.
I grew up in a society that didn’t have a lot of death. It was a true company town, in the Canal Zone. You really only lived there when you worked for the company, and then they returned you to your previous location–we had few retired folks around, and fewer still dying of old age. Living overseas, we also were largely spared from the ‘travel all night/fly on a moment’s notice’ for dying relatives as well–it was just too far, too expensive, and too much time to return to your States home for deaths.
As a result, I grew up having never been to a funeral or experienced a death around me, until a close friend’s father died our senior year of high school. By that time, I was old enough to not be scared or upset by the process, but rather was absolutely fascinated by the whole affair and wanted to know more–and thus began the process of learning and inquiry that brings us to this page.
I was teaching school in an impoverished area, with nearly 100% free-lunch participation when the industry next struck my awareness. Tragically, in the time I was there, two separate families suffered the loss of a child. As I watched the death-care industry process play out, I noticed how these families (who I knew didn’t have a whole lot of money) somehow opted for every single add-on and expenditure possible for their kids’ funerals, from special visitor cards to flashy caskets, long black cars in a procession, extended visiting hours, flowers from here to there, and the like. I questioned teachers who had more time at the school than I did, and found out that that was typically the way it was done in that community–that the family would go into debt, and would receive help from family and friends, to provide a fully-featured uber-expensive funeral for their loved one. It stymied me that folks living so close to (or truly in) poverty would choose the way they did, with the financial ramifications, in that moment.
While part of those choices made may have been cultural, I’ve come to understand that there’s just not a lot of awareness out there about choices in deathcare, and that a great many people across all cultures and social strata procrastinate thinking about deathcare and funeral choices until it’s forced on them, which is absurd–if there’s one guarantee in life, it’s that most all us will one day have the body of a loved one on our hands, and will have to make choices about how to honor the life and the death of that person through body disposition. The fact that really has brought me to this calling is simply this: you make better choices in general when you are prepared with information and forethought–and deathcare decisions are included in that.
Which brings us to this blog, and my work’s mission. Within this blog, I hope you’ll find thought-provoking articles, cautionary tales, gentle (or more forceful) nudges to action, and openings to philosophical discussions–all things designed to raise your level of comfort and awareness with the discussion, and compel you to begin your own preplanning. Check back weekly for more thoughts or add me to your RSS feed; like me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MarileeSParsons) and Twitter (@MarileeSParsons) for the complete package.
PREPLANNING MATTERS. For everyone–no, not true, really just for anyone who will die. Preplanning is easy to do, and usually is a one-time effort–so suck it up and get to it! Remember, preplanning isn’t complete until you’ve both shared and funded your wishes–so pass this blog(and my companion planning service site, MarileeParsons.com) along to your family, and open the conversations with them. Do it yourself, do it with your family, pay me to help you, go to a funeral home of your choice–but just GET IT DONE.!