Tips for Seniors – How to Plan a Decent Memorial Service
In prior posts I’ve outlined the importance of writing an effective will and how to craft an appropriate obituary. This week, I close the lid on estate planning by giving you tips on how to plan your own damned memorial service.
There are a number of important considerations to keep in mind:
Bums in Seats
Last week I attended a service comprised of 3 old people, a rented minister and 600 egg salad sandwiches. It was a damned sad turnout and a waste of good egg salad too. If you do nothing else you need to ensure that you attract a crowd – it’s the last party you’ll attend and you don’t want it to be an unmitigated flop.
I recommend providing incentives. I’ve left instructions that there are to be enticing yet tasteful door prizes, gift raffles and loot bags at my service. I’m also considering combining my memorial with that of a less popular dead person and using them as an “opening act.” Not only will it get me some additional attendees, it helps to underscore my importance as a headlining corpse of some not insignificant note.
And if all else fails, I’ve earmarked sufficient funds to hire at least 2 dozen professional mourners and would consider adding a silent auction or open bar. By hook or by crook, there will be 400-600 people attending my memorial service whether they like it or not.
Selecting the Right Minister
I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to a service and been subjected to some barefoot, hippie minister with a pony tail rattling on about a senior he’s never even met. Most of the deceased would roll over in their graves if they weren’t sitting propped up in a casket with a waxy grin on their face.
I’ve pre-selected my minister and you can rest assured that he’ll be an aged, wrinkly white man with a scowl on his lips and an Old Testament in his hand. And if he doesn’t know me personally – that’s fine, I’ve already written the sermon for him.
There won’t be any music at my service. This is a memorial not a rock concert for Christ’s sake. I don’t need people waving lighters in the air or doing super-tokes to the strains of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” or “Only the Good Die Young.”
If there must be background noise, I want a Halloween sound effects tape full of chain rattling, howling wind and unsettled moaning – it’s dramatic and much more in keeping with the occasion.
There is nothing worse than listening to moron relatives drone on about themselves instead of the deceased or telling embarrassing stories about the time Herbie pooped his pants at a family picnic when we was 7.
I’ve selected who will speak, instructed them on what I expect them to say and have provided them with amusing but largely fictional stories from my past. As a condition of speaking, I’ve made it clear that they need to submit their eulogies to me now for review, editing and final script approval.
Nobody enjoys looking at a damned corpse. I’m not sure whose idea this was in the first place but it’s unseemly, awkward and more than a little creepy.
The way I see it, if you didn’t bother to drop by to see me while I was alive you have no business staring at me now that I’m dead. For me, there will be no viewing at all. You’ll have plenty of time to gape at me when I return as a ghost and haunt your damned house.
It’s a personal call but I don’t see the allure of being stuffed in the ground like some pig’s knuckle that the family dog has finished gnawing on and decided he’s tired of.
When I leave this world, I’m going out in style and have left strict instructions that my remains are to cremated, stuffed into a cannon and then fired at the front entrance of the local high school at 12 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon.
It’s foolhardy but I like the symbolism.
So take my advice. Regardless of what you decide make sure your intentions are clear, non-negotiable and widely known. You only get one kick at the memorial service can so you’re best to make it count damn it.