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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.

Music

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.

Eulogies

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.

Viewing

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.

Interment

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.

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110 Comments leave one →
  1. 12:14 am

    Sounds like you have put a lot of thought into this. I am going to have a DVD of “Ozzie and Harriet” playing at my funeral. They’ll learn more from my death than they ever learned in school.

    • 1:38 pm

      Thank you Ahmnodt,

      While I like the idea of imparting some decent, traditional values, I don’t care for the notion of televisions playing at a memorial service. It’s bad enough that half the damned audience will be updating their facebook status, twittering and checking emails during the event without providing the added distraction of television. They young folks would likely just try to change the channel anyway in an effort to tune into some extreme wakeboarding event.

      I say make everyone check their damned gizmos and gadgets at the door.
      All the best and thanks for visiting.

      Don

  2. 12:18 am

    I like how you’ve got this set up Mr. Mills. I hope you have all your documentation needed for the funeral home also easily accessible so everything goes smoothly for your funeral enabler (I hesitate to call him/her anything else since you have everything well planned).

    Best regards and wishes for many years to tweak your plans.

    • 1:48 pm

      Thank you Cass,

      I’ve gone to considerable lengths in order to ensure that my plans are carried out exactly as I wish. The key is to remove the potential for any family members to start mucking about with the service . I’ve given my funeral home strict written instructions, amended my will and already started sending out invitations to potential guests.

      While I can’t be sure on the date, I’ve asked them to keep Monday afternoons open from the Fall of 2010 through to the Spring of 2018. A quick RVSP automatically enters you in an “early bird” draw, gets you preferred seating and guarantees you first crack at the buffet.

      Many thanks for visiting Cass.

      Don

      • Sedate Me permalink
        4:11 pm

        Sir,

        You also should put a clause in your will that states that anybody violating your funeral rules will be cut out entirely.

        • 4:29 pm

          Thank you Sedate Me.

          A very good idea. I can have the service taped and then reviewed by trusted seniors afterward to see if there were any behavioral affronts that warrant removal from the will. It might help deter drunkenness, boorishness and make my nephew think twice before he puts on an Anthrax T-shirt and his “dress” camouflage shorts.

          All the best,

          Don

  3. 12:18 am

    A bottle of two of bourbon under a chair or two would be a nice touch.

    Maybe we could play a few Andy Griffith recordings, down a bottle or two in your honor and kick scare some kids off your grass until you can get back and haunt your own yard.

    • 1:56 pm

      Thank you morethananelectrician,

      The bourbon is coming with me. I understand that it might be rather warm where I’m headed and I’ll likely need to wet my whistle.

      Still, I’d be grateful if you’d take the time to shoe the damned kids off my lawn until I’m settled. As I expect I’ll be somewhat more mobile in ghost form, I plan to spend some time haunting friends and relatives and could use someone to keep an eye on matters while I’m out rattling dishes and moaning menacingly.

      All the best,

      Don

    • 10:52 pm

      an oprah moment! have the minister yell out in the middle of the service look under your chairs! there’s a bottle for you! and a bottle for you! and a bottle for you!!! don, your funeral will probably go viral on youtube! 😀

      • elizabeth3hersh permalink
        11:03 pm

        nonnie9999, girl…you so funny!!! I get such a kick out of your comments.

  4. 12:20 am

    I like the idea of preplanning mourners. And there’s another solution for us introverts – have the service in a local coffee shop. If no one shows up, there will still be butts in the seats and you know they won’t move for anything.

    And don’t forget to have your obituary written in advance too, so nothing embarrassing about you will be in the paper. But you certainly could – although I know you never would – embarrass Uncle Joe.

    • 2:44 pm

      Thank you Pamela,

      I update my obituary every Christmas just to make sure it’s current. It’s a smart practice and one I definitely encourage.

      And while the coffee shop certainly would work, it isn’t to my taste. While I enjoy the idea of having my family have to pay $7 for a cup of coffee in order to pay their respects, I’m suspicious of any place where young people “hang out” and peruse the internet. I suspect that more than a few nefarious plots have been hatched over a wireless connection and mochaccino.

      Lovely to hear from you.

      Don

      p.s. pass on my best to Uncle Joe. And Betty Jo as well.

      • Sedate Me permalink
        4:14 pm

        Dead person, young people, caffeine and Internet access is just a recipe for postmortem humiliation.

  5. 12:44 am

    I’m thinking screaming gypsies. Wailing banshees in black shawls throwing themselves on my body as colleagues work the crowd and pick some pockets. High drama . . . and a good take for my (possibly) grieving family. God only knows I’m not leaving more than a theiving greyhound and some pennies in a peanut jar. Get it? I’m leaving peanuts! Ha ha ha ha ha ha and . . . HA! Great post, Don!

    • 2:52 pm

      Many thanks Dan,

      It sounds like a lively affair. I decided against wailing and teeth gnashing – I don’t like a mourner that tries to upstage the corpse by blubbering uncontrollably. Anything more than a few simple tears a simple nose blowing will get you tossed out on your ass at my service. (I’ve left money aside for a bouncer budget). My family are notorious attention hounds and I’m not having them try to steal the show with their manufactured grief.

      The peanuts are a damned nice touch though. I may have to work that into the look bags. Either that or I’ll leave them some deep knee bend instructions – see, I’m leaving them squat. (Sorry, that didn’t quite work…)

      All the best,

      Don

  6. 12:52 am

    I always think, in the context of memorial services, of my father (who, when the time actually came, had his ashes scattered by an androgynous serpent charmer at a high elevation in the Colorado Rockies — I’m not making that up). When I was still a sprout, he used to waver between one of two choices: either everyone at his memorial service was going to have to sit through all three-something hours of Wagner’s Siegfried, or else a hired orchestra was to perform Smetana’s The Moldau, which — as a performing musician himself — he’d had to render so many times that he was convinced he’d “rear right up out of the coffin screaming for them to stop.” That would have brought down the house for sure.

    • 3:00 pm

      Thank you sledpress,

      I suspect it would have brought the house down alright.

      That’s just wonderful – and a Hell of a send off too.

      All the best,

      Don

  7. 1:35 am

    I always planned to have an open casket foll,owed by being pushed aina long boat out to sea, having flamming arrows shot at the boat till it sank/burned beyong reconiztion, then having my friends and family consume all of my drinks at my house telling stories.

    Conbination viking and Irish funeral

    • 3:02 pm

      Many thanks Rose,

      A good combination. Just make sure the drinking comes after the flaming arrows portion of the event. You could run into some trouble if the order was reversed.

      Lovely to hear from you.

      All the best,

      Don

      • 3:56 am

        What are they going to do to me? I’m already dead.I figure this is my chance to be a compleate jackass with no retrobution./

  8. 1:59 am

    Are you sure you want a minister so old? He may predecease you.

    • 3:20 pm

      Thank you Debbi,

      An excellent point and one that I’ve considered. I have a stable of minister understudies in the wings who have been fully briefed and are on standby. Some are as young as 60 so I suspect that at least one or two should be still around when the time comes.

      All the best,

      Don

  9. 2:10 am

    Mr. Mills.

    I am not at all sure I care at all about any memorial service once I am gone. How will I enjoy it? Perhaps I should have the memorial when I am alive. I’d fake my death and view the funeral from my coffin. Of course, it would be a shame to waste a perfectly good grave. At the right time, I’d leap out of my coffin and give the nearest idiot a heart attack. That person can use my grave. The fun I’d get out of watching everyone realize they are not about to inhereit all my worldly posessions wil more than make up for all the nasty remarks.

    Keep it up, Sir.

    • 3:22 pm

      Thank you bmj2k,

      I toyed with that very notion myself. Unfortunately, I had to decide against it due to my habit of dozing off during funerals, movies and long car trips (fortunately, the sound of horns usually wakes me before any damage is done).

      I suspect I’d get a little too cozy in that casket, have a kip and not wake up until it was too damned late and shovel loads of dirt were raining down on top of me. Not quite the last laugh I might have been looking for.

      Still, it’s almost worth the risk. It would be too much fun.

      All the best,

      Don

  10. anonymous permalink
    2:47 am

    Mr. Mills,

    I’m pretty sure you mean “Internment” instead of “Interment.” Don’t worry though, I understand how hard it is to type when you’re too busy shouting at young people.

  11. 2:53 am

    Sir,

    In the Philippines, deaths are actually cause for simultaneous sadness and joy. Don’t ask me how this works out, it does, but when guests arrive, you give them salted bread and coffee. When night falls, break out the cards and gamble your heart out. Expect fights to break out over “cheating.” Someone else might die if someone brings out knives. Break out the karaoke: and then kill someone after they sing “My Way” badly (after the burial, we don’t want a double death). When in front of the dead, act solemn. When out of sight, gossip about his life.

    After all, you want your death to be widely attended by everyone you know. One’s death atones for almost anything one has done to anyone.

    Jonathan Ferxist.

    PS: From what I know, I haven’t made anything up. Especially the “My Way” thing.

    • 3:44 pm

      Thank you Jonathan,

      Actually, if you substitute “gambling” with “drinking” and switch up “My Way” with “Danny Boy” it doesn’t sounds materially different than a few family services that I’ve been to. When it comes to death, grief and mourning, I suspect it really is a small world after all.

      Nice to hear from you lad. I hope you’re keeping well.

      Best,

      Don

  12. 4:17 am

    I think the soundtrack from the Christmas Carol would be good for you.

    Scrrrrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooooooge. Scroooooooooooooge

    Also I want a giant masoleum with a lock on the inside, just in case you idiots get it wrong and I am not really dead.

    • 3:54 pm

      Thank you Bearman,

      As long as it isn’t the soundtrack from the Breakfast Club I’m not going to complain too much.

      And while I appreciate your interest in the mausoleum and concern about being buried alive I’m not sure I see the value of the lock on the inside. If you are dead, you won’t be able to lock it and if you’re not, I can’t imagine you’ll feel you need additional privacy and want to keep people out. Unless you have a fridge, television and a good book in there – in which case it might make for a nice vacation retreat.

      I’d go with sliding patio doors – they let in more light.

      All the best.

      Don

  13. 4:21 am

    This sounds like a well thought out plan.

    I don’t plan on dying. Ever. I plan to be a burden on my children long after they are a burden on theirs.

    • 3:55 pm

      Thank you yellowcat,

      A very wise plan. Ambitious, bold and reqarding as hell.

      Warm regards (for the time being)

      Don

  14. 5:14 am

    You left out the breathalyzer requirement you’ll need to have implemented at the door. Certainly you don’t want your eulogy read by a drunkard, who slurs his way through it then ends it all with a bang: he knocks over the casket. This really happened to a relative of my “friend” and I wouldn’t want it to happen at you.

    • 4:33 pm

      Thank you Tricia,

      I’m still working on closing loopholes so thank you very much for the tip. Given my family’s fondness for the bottle it’s a strong likelihood and, as you suggest, one I definitely want to avoid.

      I’ll add it to my most recent amendment. It also includes a statements that ban vuvuzela’s, prohibit the use of flash photography and outline dress code expectations.

      All the best and thanks for visiting,

      Don

  15. Fairy Face permalink
    7:40 am

    A few weeks ago I was watching SBS and they had a show on about how the Aztecs celebrate their dead relatives each year by having a feast in their homes and the cemeteries in their villages. They dress up as dead people wearing masks and outfits you’d actually only be seen dead in. Their homes have shrines to the dead and are lavishly decorated with flowers and fresh produce as offerings to those who have passed on. Special meals are cooked consisting of recipes passed down from great grandmother to grandmother to mother then daughters. The women take delight in cooking this special food and seemed overcome with emotion as they relived the times when they were all alive and preparing these meals together. I thought it an interesting way of making death seem more bearable and less of a loss than the way in which we seem to view it. There is a day set aside for children who have passed on also. Incense is burned and when the church bells toll which is meant to depict the time when the dead relatives souls are present. Even the presenter came away with a whole new mindset. Death didn’t seem to be at all something to be dreaded to the Aztecs. The fact that this celebration meant that you’d all be together at least once a year seemed to ease the grieving process somewhat.
    It kind of takes All Souls Day to a whole new level.
    Personally I’m going to have a quiet service with my kids and their husband and wife. My closest friends will attend. I will leave funds for the chosen few to go out and have a lovely meal. When that’s over I’ve recommended a group hug and everyone can then go their separate ways.
    I ued to joke with the kids they could play “Dong Dong The Witch Is Dead” but I’ve matured somewhat. I can assure you though there will be no egg swandwiches. When my father died his then wife might as well have organised Meals On Wheels to do the catering asthe food was so badly presented. I’ll make sure this never happens to me.

    • 4:42 pm

      Thank you Fairy Face,

      Sounds like a very pragmatic service so, naturally, I approve completely.

      I’ll have to do some reading on those Aztecs – it sounds like they have some interesting rituals. And while I don’t really want my family dressing up in death costumes, I’m not completely against a few well placed shrines.

      Best regards,

      Don

  16. elizabeth3hersh permalink
    7:42 am

    A while back, I wrote the Las Vegas Review-Journal for permission to use “she was called home to the great Neiman Marcus in the sky” as the opening line of my obit (granted). I don’t care how my body will be disposed of (I left the option open), so long as I don’t get burned or buried in a bra. I would like to be remembered by the song Something Stupid, a beautiful duet sang by father/daughter team Frank and Nancy Sinatra. After many decades, I still find that song and its harmony magical and I never tire of hearing it. The funny thing is, we all come back as many things and many creatures, just as we are composed of many things and many creatures (atomically speaking). Sometimes, I wonder if I honor what lived before me (and now lives through me) by the choices I make and the life I have lived. It will be a very long time before our 13-billion years young atoms are ripped apart in a theoretical ‘big freeze’ having been ‘birthed’ at the moment of the Big Bang…by that time all will be forgotten and forgiven. Seems like Don might have the distinction of lingering on a bit more in the minds/hearts of others which I have always found to be a fascinating phenomenon (the large, well-attended funeral as opposed to a sparsely attended memorial service). It further seems like there is great honor in remembrance, if even only by a chosen few. I suspect you would be sorely missed, Don.

    • 10:56 am

      I was reading an article about the funeral industry and I was horrified to learn that the people dressing the dead often keep undergarments on hand because they find that frequently the descendants neglect to provide these for the corpse and they would never bury someone that was not properly dressed. All I can say is I don’t wear a bra now and I sure as heck don’t want to be buried in one so whoever my descendants are they had better be darned sure that particular garment is not on me or I’m likely to arise from the coffin and sling it at the funeral director.

      • 5:17 pm

        My God,

        That certainly brings the old “always wear clean underwear” adage into crisper focus. I sure as hell wouldn’t want a damned mortician stuffing my business into some “loaner” underpants.

        Frightening.

    • 11:02 am

      I love that song Elizabeth!

    • 5:14 pm

      Thank you Elizabeth,

      I imagine getting buried in a bra would be most uncomfortable and likely doesn’t provide much protection from the elements. It would have to be a hell of a bra too. My old aunt Alice might have had one up to the job but she’s been dead for a good 60 years and I imagine her delicates were either retired or have been put to use as semi-detached pup tents. I can see why a casket is a more common choice.

      I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t know the song you’re referring too. I will have to look it up. I tended to avoid any Sinatra songs that had any hint of his children attached to them but on your recommendation will be happy to give it a listen.

      All the best, Elizabeth, and thanks for visiting. I hope the family is well.

      Don

      • 11:08 pm

        Elizabeth,

        My mistake. Of course I know the song. Funny, I just didn’t recognize it by title.

      • elizabeth3hersh permalink
        11:25 pm

        Damn it, Don. This is a humor blog and you made me cry (it was a good cry).

        nursemyra, I’m so glad to hear you, too, love the song! I never, ever hear it on the radio and have never understood why.

  17. 7:54 am

    My grandfather carefully planned his memorial service too, or rather, carefully planned not having one. He left strict instructions that under no circumstances should a memorial be held- inside an envelope he titled, “Box ‘Em and Dump ‘Em”. Seriously. Oh, he was cunning (one word) alright, and damned if he would be caught dead handing over hard earned cash to those snaky ‘funeral parlors’. Oh on, not he.

    PS – hope you have a fall back plan should your ‘old white minister’ cark it before you do…..

    • 5:22 pm

      Thank you RubyTwoShoes,

      I think cunning is a very appropriate word. He sounds like a sensible old man to me.

      And as I mentioned in response to an earlier comment, I have some minister understudies waiting in the wings. Hopefully, I have all the bases covered. Thanks for the concern though.

      Best regards,

      Don

  18. Trisha permalink
    9:00 am

    My funeral is also planned. No speakers, no prayers, no hymns.
    Mourners, if there are any, will enter the Chapel to the strains of La Colinda, by Delius. They will sit with a sheet of paper explaining what I am doing, then they will listen to Gounod’s Mors et Vita to ponder on their lives and deaths as well as mine, during this time the casket will disappear. They will leave the Chapel to Karg Elert’s ‘Nun Danket’ thinking “Thank God that’s all over” – but I dare them not to skip or think “Cheerio, Chin Chin” which I always find in the music, and then, always assuming anyone is there, they can clear off to the pub and think what a miserable so-and-so I was.

    • 5:36 pm

      Thank you Trisha,

      Sounds like you have matters well in hand. Is the disappearing casket a dramatic affect or a magic trick? I think the latter could be rather disturbing if not handled properly. You don’t want it reappearing in the lobby or ladies room or anything.

      Either way, all that really matters is that you get what you want, the way you want it.

      All the best,

      Don

  19. 9:37 am

    I will be holding my funeral at the same time and location as an IKEA store opening. The crowds are guaranteed, mourners can assemble their own Swedish flatpack pews to save my costs and they can enjoy meatballs and gherkins from the cafe at the wake. I say ‘enjoy’, I mean ‘choke down’.
    Do come over and see me, Don. It’s been too long a time.

    • FAIRY FACE permalink
      11:12 am

      Your a force to be reckoned with, what a great idea. Who wold have thought of that? The thing is the parking and validation can be a bugger at Ikea. I just hope they have you past the blue line lol.

    • 5:44 pm

      How nice to hear from you Woman in Black!

      I’ll be over for a visit later today – I’m looking forward to it tremendously. On the subject of your funeral, you might also want to consider the IKEA coffin – I believe it’s called “Oomslaab” and is available in a beech, pine or oak veneer. In addition to being stylish and cheap – having your guests spend 4 hours assembling it is sure to have the added bonus of distracting them from their considerable grief.

      All the best and welcome back!

      Don

  20. 10:50 am

    For maximum dramatic effect, I find it laudable if there is a grieving widow who can throw herself on the casket. In your case, you may have to work on finding an appropriate gold digger and coaching her.

    • 5:47 pm

      Thank you healingmagichands,

      I appreciate the sentiment and agree that it does add considerable drama but as I mentioned earlier, I don’t particularly want some audience member or relative upstaging me during my service. Gentle weeping and hand wringing is fine but this day is meant to be about me and I’d like people to stay focused damn it. I realize it’s selfish but you only get one crack at dying.

      Best regards and thanks for visiting.

      Don

  21. 11:05 am

    No service for me; my kids are going to scatter my ashes under the tree we bought for Stephen. Then friends and family are going to attend a showing of Tati’s Playtime at the Chauvel Theatre and drink cocktails and talk about how much I loved French films….

    • 5:49 pm

      Thank you Nursemyra,

      Very wise of you to plan ahead. It all sounds quite civilized. Well done.

      Don

  22. 2:17 pm

    You wrote “Viewing Nobody enjoys looking at a damned corpse.”

    Five stages of death 1-Denial.
    While no one enjoys it, it is a necessary event in my opinion. Is the person away on vacation?
    When will Mom or Dad be back? We have to see the corpse to help our brain end the hope they are still (physically) alive somewhere.
    The dead don’t want to be seen out of vanity, but for the sake of their living loved ones mental health, I think the living need to see the corpse to help the grieving process.

    • 6:38 pm

      Many thanks markps2

      You may be right, lad, and some people may need visual evidence of their loss but I have to be honest and tell you that’s never been my experience. It’s a personal choice and I’m happy to respect whatever decision someone makes about viewings/visitation but I’ve never found it helpful, meaningful or in any way therapeutic. Quite the opposite, in fact.

      And from my perspective, I have no objection with leaving some lingering doubts on the part of my family. I kind of enjoy the notion that they’re going to be looking over their shoulders for the next few years and doing a double take every time they see a dashing old man in a cardigan and a blue Buick LeSabre.

      Point taken though and thanks for sharing it.

      Best regards,

      Don

  23. Sedate Me permalink
    4:39 pm

    I have no plans on dying, so why the Hell would I want to plan (and especially pay for) my funeral? It’ll be no good to me. Let my worthless relatives deal with it.

    Besides, just like the wedding industry, I’m no fan of the funeral industry. They’re both run by ripoff artists trying to empty your pockets for some useless ceremony that you’ll eventually regret ever happened in the first place. Also, with all the poisons and toxins they stuff into dead bodies, they now qualify as toxic waste. Forget that! I’ve caused enough environmental damage while alive. I don’t want to do it in death too. “Ashes to ashes.” not “Ashes to toxic blob”.

    That’s why I don’t want to be buried. I just want to be left where I drop dead for the buzzards and maggots to pick me apart piece by piece. Odds are, I will collapse in public after cursing out some young person and suffering a heart attack. That would allow my corpse to decompose where all the kiddies can see what really happens after you die. That would dispel the kind of Doggie Heaven claptrap they’ve been fed. Perhaps it might also make them re-think how they live their miserable little lives. Probably not.

    • 6:39 pm

      Thank you Sedate Me.

      You’re in fine form today. That’s one hell of a comment.

      I’m not sure what the Public Health department may think of your plans but you get full marks for practicality and sheer moxie. And I’m inclined to agree that dragging your size 19 Reeboks over the occasional stiff would give these damned young people pause to consider the way in which they’re living their lives. Even if it didn’t – it would likely scare the hell out of them and there’s no harm in that now and again.

      You could be on to something. Everybody’s all bent out of shape about “going green” anyway so why not allow for a more organic form of human recycling/composting. It may not be appealing to the eye but it’s likely going to be good for my lawn.

      Thanks very much Sedate Me. As always, good to hear from you.

      Don

  24. Lynn permalink
    4:54 pm

    don, your interment plans are so hunter s thompson-like. seems like a great way to launch your soul into the heavenly unknown.. btw, these days concert-goers wave cel phones. ♥

    • 7:04 pm

      Many thanks Lynn,

      I think it’s important to go out with a bang and a cannon is the loudest (and most literal) way for me to get that done. And thanks for the update on current concert-going etiquette. Not sure why the hell anyone would want to wave a cel phone in the air but I gave up trying to understand young people once they stopped wearing suspenders and poodle skirts.

      Best regards,

      Don

      • Lynn permalink
        4:45 pm

        well if anyone deserves to go out on a bang it’s you don! get this, my grandpa wore suspenders AND a belt!! guess he just couldn’t be too sure.🙂

  25. 5:26 pm

    Dear Mr. Mills.
    First of all I want to thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts with the rest of the world. It’s elegant, witty, sarcastic – and true!
    Secondly, I really appreciate your script for the funeral. It’s almost ready to copy and paste, with added amounts of champagne for my part.
    Yours sincerely,
    My Sharp Tongue

    • 7:04 pm

      Thank you kindly My Sharp Tongue,

      Glad to hear you can make use of the outline. I’d suggest adding the champagne toward the end – introducing alcohol into these events too early can, on occasion, be problematic.

      All the best,

      Don

      • 7:19 pm

        Just a thought. Of course the champagne should wait until the end, where it will help the disappointed relatives through the reading of the will. I am planning to leave all my earthly possessions to the rescue of Argentinian donkeys – or maybe the publishing of etiquette books.
        Hmm, is it inapprobiate to wish all a happy funeral?
        Yours sincerely,
        My Sharp Tongue

        • 7:37 pm

          Thank you once again My Sharp Tongue.

          An interesting coincidence. One of my wills included leaving my small fortune to the Hamishview Home for Abandoned Weiner Dogs. I think, however, that the etiquette books might be a more worthwhile and needy cause.

          While it sounds like you have matters well in hand, my other will writing pointers can be found via the link below.

          https://crabbyoldfart.wordpress.com/2009/09/28/tips-for-seniors-how-to-write-a-god-damned-effective-will/

          Best regards,

          Don

          • 8:12 pm

            Thank you, it was really helpful and enlightning! I will now dedicate my summer to writing wills and planning my funeral.
            Oh, one last thing: Remember to leave instructions for your tombstone. Something magnificent, preferable with several sarcophages and complicated, clever inscriptions. Nothing can ruin a well planned funeral more than an anonymous tombstone.

  26. 10:59 pm

    i don’t know if you’ve ever been to south floriduhhh, don, but there are a lot of senior citizens here. they love funerals, and they love free food. all you’d have to do down here is to have someone spread the word that there are free egg salad sandwiches, and the funeral home will be overflowing with seniors who have plastic wrap in their pockets and purses, just waiting to get at those sandwiches. they’ll have plenty of room in their freezers in anticipation of the event. that said, go ahead and spend all your money on professional mourners, food, and sound effects professionals. you can simultaneously stimulate the economy (thereby making strangers think of you posthumously as a philanthropist and all-round good guy) and piss off all those greedy relatives who thought they’d make a killing (no pun intended) when you kicked the bucket.

    • 2:32 pm

      Many thanks Nonnie,

      An intriguing notion. I hadn’t considered holding the memorial out of state but clearly there are some advantages to moving the service to south Florida. Not only does it appear I’d be guaranteed a good turn out – chances are my family wouldn’t be able to make the trip and embarrass the hell out of me.

      I’m not sure I’m prepared to give up on my existing plans but you have given me a thought that perhaps I could set up a Don Mills memorial tour. I suspect that the t-shirt revenue would cover any additional costs involved. 30 cities in 40 days! It’s a grueling schedule but given that I’ll be dead I suspect I can muster up the energy.

      You’re always an inspiration, Nonnie. Many thanks.

      Don

  27. 1:27 am

    Oh my god I’m only 35 but I find myself agreeing with 90% of the stuff you say, I’m worried that this makes me a crabbit old fart before my time.

    • 2:35 pm

      Thank you Ryan,

      Try not to panic, lad. It’s never too early to start. I’d recommend building slowly, however. Start with “cranky” then move to “crusty,” build slowly to “curmudgeonly” and then prepare yourself for full out “crabby.”

      Pace yourself. You don’t want to peak too soon.

      Best regards and thanks for visiting.

      Don

    • Sedate Me permalink
      3:43 pm

      Apart from age, I could have qualified as a crabby, old, fart in my teens…maybe even earlier.

  28. 2:06 am

    I like the way you’re leaving instructions. My Uncle Milton left no instructions for me, and I totally screwed up his funeral. You’re not supposed to view dead Jewish people, but his friends wanted to see him, so I opened the coffin and scared the crap out of my parents. Then the rabbi asked for anecdotes, and I told one I thought was funny – it was about how Milton owned a factory that killed chickens for Campbell’s soup. I once asked him if he snapped their necks. He said, “Oh, no, Robbie. You slit their throats. But if I was walking by the cages and one of the buggers pecked me – then I’d snap their neck!” Everyone was silent and stared at me. Not one of my better comedic moments. Sigh.

    • 2:44 pm

      Thank you Robin,

      Personally, I liked the story but I can understand that some people don’t want to hear about the most efficient way of dispatching unruly poultry at a memorial service.

      Still, my feeling is that if Uncle Milton would have liked the story told – that’s all that matters. That’s why I’m writing my own eulogies and not allowing for any “spontaneous” eulogies. I spent years burying my skeletons and I don’t need some 2nd cousin with a chip on his shoulder dredging them up.

      All the best and thanks for stopping in.

      Don

  29. cleverlittlemiss permalink
    2:51 am

    At what age should I start leaving instructions for my funeral???? I’m in my 20s but I guess you can never be too prepared because I don’t want some idiot messing up mine. My aunts had to make the arrangements for my grandpa and they messed the entire service up. I know my grandpa was turning in his grave for a while after that.

    • 2:51 pm

      Thank you cleverlittlemiss,

      I’d say you’re never too young to start. The key is to keep updating it so that it always reflects your current sensibilities. While it may seem “hep” to have your eulogy delivered in a rap format when you are in your teens, by the time you hit 40 you have hopefully reconsidered and are looking for something a little more subdued.

      Thanks for visiting, cleverlittlemiss. Always nice to hear from a forward thinking young person.

      Regards,

      Don

  30. Friar permalink
    3:54 am

    Don

    What about bagpipes?

    Not only would it be damned annoying…but it would drive the young folk away in hordes.

    It’s something to consider.

    • 3:37 pm

      Thanks Friar,

      A fine idea. Nothing like a 40 minute bagpipe solo to set the mood for a funeral and, as you say, it’s sure to drive the young people right out of town. A bit of pied piper effect.

      Appreciate the suggestion.

      Best regards,

      Don

  31. 7:14 am

    When my Dad was alive, he used to love to go to the Dickens Festival, dressed up like a Victorian. So, when he died, my Mother decided he should wear his Victorian costume in his coffin. On hearing this plan, my partner remarked that it was a good thing my Dad was being cremated, as otherwise – “Future archaeologists might be really confused by his clothing”.

    Thank goodness my Dad wasn’t a Sci Fi geek, or my Mum would have had him cremated as a bloody Dalek.

    • 3:37 pm

      Thank you Blogmella,

      You’re actually pointed out a rather large gap in my plans. I hadn’t left any instructions on how I was to be clothed (but since there will be no viewing it isn’t of paramount importance). Still, I’d like to enter the hereafter dressed in decent attire and will have to revise my documents to ensure that I’m clad in decent slacks, shirt and my favorite cardigan. Knowing my family, they’d just be inclined to leave me in my PJs.

      How do you think your old dad would have felt about the Victorian costume?

      All the best,

      Don

      • 11:51 pm

        Oh, he probably would have approved – he wasn’t exactly shy and it was an outfit he collected and put together himself. It was better than my Mum’s other idea, of putting him in his sports clothes (he was very sporty, before getting ill).

        I didn’t like either idea though, I thought it was too much like making the funeral into a pantomime. What was wrong with a nice dark suit, white shirt and tie? I hate “themed” weddings and stupid undignified shit at funerals. What has happened to good taste? What is wrong with being formal, once in a while? Why have the old “rites of passage” now become surreal “happenings”?

        Blimey, I’m really on a roll here… I might have to blog about these issues. Thanks for the inspiration Don!

  32. 8:27 pm

    Don,

    While I agree that you’ve put together quite the practical memorial service, you really shouldn’t be concerning yourself with these things. Need I remind you that, being the executor of your will and all, it’s my responsibility to make sure that your death goes off without a hitch.

    I’ve already started making calls, and have even taken the liberty of creating a Facebook invitation for the event, calling it “BDS&M (Beloved Don’s Service and Memorial) Party of The Year!”
    (I added the word “party” because, based on FB invites I’ve created in the past, I knew more people would commit that way.)

    Now, while there won’t be any “Halloween music” per se, I guarantee you that the chain rattling, howling and unsettled moaning will have people talking for years to come. And I know how you feel about a viewing, but since it’s important that people have the chance to pay their respects, I’ve ordered something that will protect your privacy while at the same time appeasing your guests- http://www.jwz.org/images/M4.jpg

    I’ve scheduled the date as “Tentative (But keep the next few Sundays open, just in case)”, but if you hear anything before that, please let me know. Only because I’m planning a special eulogy for you, was told I had to order the leather catsuit at least a week beforehand. I mean, sure, I could always get the Barbarian Warrior, but I know how much old people love cats.

    So don’t worry about a thing, Don. Just focus on your garden and keeping your breathing pattern regulated, and I’ll “whip” this memorial into shape in no time.

    Your symbolism-infused (?) friend,

    Bschooled.

    • 11:52 am

      Many thanks Bschooled,

      It’s very comforting to know that my fate is in such capable hands. I had a quick peek at the hat (?) you’ve suggested and while I appreciate the somber nature of the outfit and am concerned that it might be a tad on the warm side. A knitted version might be a more comfortable alternative. If they have anything with a blackwatch pattern that might be nice.

      I’ll expect you to maintain strict discipline at the service and make sure that none of my relatives get out of line. You need to be firm but fair with that lot. I think an iron fist in a velvet glove approach is always a sensible.

      Many thanks for your hard work and attention to detail.

      All the best,

      Your friend,

      Don

      p.s. Not that I need to tell you but I’d also appreciate it if you kept the catsuit tasteful (think Garfield not Julie Newmar).

  33. Dr Tim permalink
    10:04 pm

    Dear Don

    Do they have any of those egg sandwiches left? The nurse says that I get a little peckish late afternoon, you see.

    All the best

    Dr Tim

    • 11:55 am

      Thank you Dr. Tim,

      I’m fairly sure they’ve tidied up by now but I generally leave an egg salad sandwich or two sitting in my glove compartment for emergencies.

      I’m not sure how long they might have been there but please help yourself. Just give them a little sniff before you take your first bite.

      Best regards,

      Don

      • Dr Tim permalink
        9:10 pm

        Dear Don

        Sensible strategy, you never know when hypoglycemia might strike.

        Listeria can also be dangerous though, at our age. Do please be careful.

        With very best regards

        Dr Tim

  34. 12:16 am

    Don –

    To tell you the truth, I haven’t much considered my eventual funeral arrangements having preferred for several years to dwell on the funerals of others, especially Ms. Rothschild, whose demeanor ranges from minorly annoying to infuriatingly annoying and Mr. Wentsworth, whose constant late-night calls frequently interrupt the six o’clock news and serve no purpose other than to inquire about my satisfaction with my current long-distance plan.

    All I know is that there are several funerals I’d like to attend, preferably within the next few weeks, none of which would be mine. All the same, I think you’ve given me several ideas on how it should be run, in the eventuality that my multiple nemeses should manage to outlive me.

    (The insouciant paperboy has a good shot. He’s only 14 but he behaves like he’s going on 9 and throws like he’s 5. And female. And paraplegic. I really can’t fathom how someone in supposedly good health can only manage to get the paper as far as the outlying mulberry bush. I’ve made it abundantly clear to him that I have a limited amount of time and mobility to work with, otherwise my neighbor will be down to claim her paper before I have a chance to read it and clip out any interesting articles and coupons.)

    One thing I’m sure of: I’d like all my enemies to attend, if only to hear my prepared eulogy, which will lead off with:

    “Clifton Tanager died doing what he loved: wishing you all were dead.”

    I think that should set the mood nicely. From that point on, the eulogizing party should feel free to “go after” the audience, like Don Rickles on a bad day. With the attendance rapidly dwindling, perhaps some ad-libbing would be appropriate, perhaps touching on the “bucket list” I never got around to writing (#1 on the list: Write Bucket List) or my delightful idiosyncrasies, like obsessively stealing a 35-cent newspaper. Or writing imaginary obituaries for those on the “list.”

    All in all, I think people should feel relieved that I’m gone and less likely to hang around for hours at a time, waiting for my lawyer to arrive and read the will they’ve all been cut out of.

    I think what I’m trying to say is that this sort of unpleasantness would allow the survivors to move on with their lives as quickly as possible, perhaps less than 15 minutes into the ceremony if all goes as planned.

    Thanks for the wonderful advice and inspiring thoughts. You had better believe I’ll be at your funeral, Don. It would take a team of well-meaning relatives to keep me away.

    Sincerely,
    C.L. Tanager

    • 2:27 am

      “Clifton Tanager died doing what he loved: wishing you all were dead.”

      Brilliant.

    • 12:10 pm

      Many thanks Clifton,

      While you may not have given it much consideration it certainly appears that you have a damned good plan. A brief service laden with cruel taunts of “You hockey puck” sounds like a crowd pleaser and a fitting send off.

      Funny you should mention the paperboy, Clifton, as I’ve been having all manner of problems myself. I’m not sure exactly when it happened but around here they seem to have replaced all of the slack-jawed, weak-armed pre-teens with hungover 30-year olds in dingy sweat pants, dodgy minivans and 3 day beards. While they can occasionally loft the paper halfway to my front door (a definite improvement) they also hack incessantly and enjoy littering my front lawn with cigarette butts and empty liquor bottles. I’ve written homeland security but it appears nothing can be done.

      Many thanks for visiting, Clifton. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

      Warm regards,

      Don

      p.s. You might want to consider getting that fine eulogy lead off etched on your tombstone.

  35. 12:30 am

    Hilarious Don. I don’t understand why there isn’t more swag at funerals. I am sure you won’t needing your own advise for many years.

    • 12:12 pm

      Many thanks Mr. Jelly,

      I know I’d attend more services if I thought I might get a pen and pencil set. It’s just common sense really.

      All the best and thanks for visiting.

      Don

  36. 12:40 am

    Dear Mr. Mills,

    I love all your memorial service plans and if I’m lucky enough to attend I will be wailing my head off and then applauding as your ashes go speeding across a starry evening sky.

    My one hope for you, as it is for me (which may be the topic of my next blog post) is what my friend, Annie says she prays for all the time. Namely “God, don’t let me die stupid.”

    Since she’s already stupid, I understood her meaning. Don’t die on the toilet, slipping on underwear you left on the floor, or, as in a recent story I heard of a woman who was a “hoarder” who fell and was crushed by in an avalanche of all the garbage she was hoarding in her home. They didn’t find her for 4 months. She died stupid!

    Don’t do that.

    Kind Regards,
    Dr. King

    • 12:36 pm

      Thank you very much Dr. King,

      I absolutely share your concern about “dying stupid.” One of the best (if you can call it that) examples of that I remember was a number of years back when a gentleman who worked in an high rise office tower was attempting to convince his coworkers that the windows were shatterproof and built to withstand impact. To demonstrate, he threw himself bodily into the window. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what happened next. Suffice to say it was his last day at the office.

      While that’s the kind of “stupid death” you can control (and hopefully avoid) I do worry about slipping in the shower, tripping over my wiener dog, or catching my cardigan in the toaster and setting myself aflame. No matter who you were or what you may have achieved in your life, if you die in a ball of flames while attempting to make some raisin toast that’s all anyone is every going to remember.

      I think it would make an excellent post, Carol. I can’t imagine what paintings you might choose to accompany it but I look forward to reading it nonetheless.

      Best regards,

      Don

  37. 11:09 am

    Dear Sir, this post and the previous one on TV are two of your very best, I much enjoyed them. My funeral plan is in the safe with music CD ready to go. Off to read you work on obituaries. Best.

    • 4:26 pm

      Thank you, Mikeridge.

      I’d recommend you throw a few random and unusual objects in the safe as well – just to keep people guessing. If you were to leave your will, the CD and a handful of counterfeit passports, for example, it will leave the relatives scratching their heads for years to come.

      All the best,

      Don

  38. 2:12 pm

    I love your refreshing perspective on things. I actually just started my blog which provides funeral advice – perhaps you could be a guest writer on there. Keep up the great work.

  39. Skydancer (Guardian Angel) permalink
    8:05 am

    Why the hell is your blog popular again? I forget. *sigh*

  40. 7:00 am

    I love your site, but don’t you think you’re a bit hard on the young ones. With saying stuff like, “they dress like god damned morons”, do you really think anyone will listen or care? It’s more a fun thing to do, to read your site. I found much humor, but not much sense. Yes most of which is very funny I find great. Please do not offend anyone for the way they are. After all, someone could write a site abou the “Old and Crabby”.

  41. lianamerlo permalink
    11:33 pm

    Hmmm, I think I’ll need to re-write my will. Great tips, I love the door prizes idea. But seriously, I’d like everyone at my funeral to get drunk. Not because I was a huge partier in my life, but because I’d love to see some of my relatives drunk.

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