Memorial Planning


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Resplendent in my yellow satin dress, I watched them head down the aisle and out the front door as I sang537750_387474191341295_903780686_n her chosen song. It was not a traditional recessional song, but one with a toe-tapping beat. The ballad lyrics sentimentally celebrated her faith-filled abiding love yet the beat had me singing with zeal and gusto. Breathing in deeply to quell my welling tears, I headed to the church hall to partake of the waiting feast, and to accept the condolences for my loss.

Condolences offered on the loss of my mother.

Is it an oxymoron to create a great funeral?

As one ages, arrangements for a fitting services for the death of a parent is often the first funeral an adult handles. Mine was made easier because my mother unexpectedly mailed me particulars for her funeral. She wasn’t ill, nor did we have any reason to expect her dying to be soon.

Yet, six months later I held her personally written paper in my hand as I headed to see her pastor. When he asked if I had any songs or readings that she’d prefer, I felt so grateful to my mother that I was able to simply hand him that paper.

The idea behind October 30th’s Create a Great Funeral Day is to think about how you would like to be remembered and to let others you love know how you’d like your life celebrated. For celebrations take a great deal of planning.

Funerals and Weddings

Consider the purposes behind a funeral or memorial service. It is not unlike a wedding. To hold a wedding there are: desired and required guests to invite, a special venue, an observance of a new life status reality, pictures of people who rarely gather in one place, a festive event afterwards, people tell ing life stories, that are often amusing, and specific rituals to observe.

Holding a memorial service contains all those same elements.

It is held with desired and required guests invited, marking an event that will facilitate a sense of closure for those in attendance, provides attendees an occasion to say relate personal life stories, often amusing anecdotes, and specific rituals to be observed. Just as in a wedding, all people involved have intense emotions around the event. Through the ritual, there is both remembrance, celebration and eventual acceptance of this change in life.

Any death is an emotionally exhausting event. It is challenging to have funeral planning crammed into a few short days; or rather, to plan a great memorial in such a short time that will accurately reflect who you are and what you want your legacy to be.

But, it need not be crammed into those few emotionally charged days.

Create a memorial plan that can be easily adjusted throughout the years while you live your life.

While everyone is eagerly involved with wedding planning, creating plans for one’s own funeral is a last gift for your loved ones.

Funeral or memorial planning requires as much attention to detail as wedding planning. It allows people from various segments of your life to meet each other as each begins the grieving process and provides opportunity for those in mourning to support each other.

It gives family and friends an opportunity to reflect upon a person- YOU- and to share fond memories and remember how you affected their lives. It can be a celebration of your life that you can still be a part of by providing your memorial plan. Many families have rituals around funerals. But, too often, these do not give the personal life stories, the music you’d prefer or a table of mementos that display all that you consider important in your life.  

One day there will be a funeral or memorial service for every single writer that is blogging today. Whether your family and friends leave that event with a solemn reflective song or your toe tapping uplifting favourites can truly be up to you.

At the end of my mother’s service, I stood singing her chosen uplifting song.

I was smiling.

Both the song and the  dress were in that moment because both were in my mother’s memorial plan.   

So was the smile. 

So, if you plan to come to my memorial, please bring a sunflower with you, and a yearning for scrumptious desserts.

Both will be there.

They’re in my memorial plan.


Below is an abundant array of links to check out for this unique topic :

National Post series: How We Die Now

Allen’s Creating Your Own Funeral or Memorial Service: A Workbook

Available at and her blog address is

Gail Rubin is a Certified Celebrant and the author of the award-winning book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die,  ( and The Family Plot Blog (

FB even has an app for after you’re gone.


Mother’s Day


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196309_354299498010521_402835107_nWith Mother’s Day fast approaching, i was determined to find my mother a gift that would make her smile.

Even though I was only thirteen at the time, I knew she was having a challenging year, both personally and financially.

So, I asked her to accompany me to look for running shoes. I had an ulterior motive.

While shopping, I hoped she’d reveal a gift that she’d love to have, but did not have the money to purchase. Knowing her well, I could have bought her practical items. But, this year needed something special to lift her spirits.  

As we walked through several large department stores, I commented on items I knew she liked: pretty dishes, extravagant purses and once, even a painting. Preoccupied with her life issues, she barely even glanced at most of them.

But, after I bought my new shoes, she paused to stare at a particular mannequin.

“Wow”, she said, “Imagine wearing that.”

Ah, at last, a gift that clearly met my criteria!

537750_387474191341295_903780686_nEarly next morning, I returned to the store, excited that the mannequin still displayed its wears.

As I enthusiastically gushed that it was the perfect gift for my 45-year-old mother, the sales woman hesitated as she rang through my purchases.

“These are a little expensive, dear. Are you sure she’d really like these?”, she asked.

Well, of course, I was sure. My mother had told me herself. Price didn’t matter. Making her smile mattered.

On Mother’s Day, as my mother slowly pulled apart the yellow wrapping paper, I could barely contain my hands from pulling the gift out.

Frowning at first glance, she quickly smiled with motherly warmth.

“Why, honey, these really are something. They are so …unique.  I sure wouldn’t want to wear them out. I’ll wear them on only a very special occasion.”

Dangling the hanger awkwardly, she held up the outfit the mannequin had worn:

A sequins studded thick black leather bra- with matching panties, of course.

This Mother’s Day, mothers everywhere will open up equally tacky gifts-


For all they see is the love that accompanies it.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Earth Day 2017


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High above the road sits a substantial bundle of twigs, carefully constructed to situate within its hard confines.

An eagle dives in, fish clutched in its talons, bending low to land on the edge.

Clearly, there is at least one hatched eaglet inside this nest.

While an eagle in full flight is breath-taking, this particular nature sighting keeps me pondering all day.

This eagle’s nest sits perched within the steel girding of a hydroelectric power link that crisscrosses my city.



There are trees in nearby flying range; yet, none so tall as that power grid.

Tall trees are becoming a rarity in our cites.

But, in front of my own house grow three sixty-year-old cedar trees. Not so long ago the house builder dropped by, hoping to still find the trees he planted. I am quick to express my gratitude for his gift, especially since my shortened cedars stand in an area of rapid multi-density development. Old standing trees are being quickly pulled down, cut into logs, and hauled away like trash.

Yet, each tree has a lifetime of stories.

When  I sit perched at my computer, my thoughts are often drawn away from its unnatural glare to search tree branches for the source of unusual trilling of prolific singing birds

As twilight lengthens, baby racoons chirp furiously their warnings when my son walks beneath their high cedar home. In threes, they are preparing to traipse down for their evening food scavenging.

Food they once ate in broad daylight, like summer ripe cherries in our backyard tree.

Peter OnlyThat cherry tree’s sturdy limbs also supported yearly tree-fort reconstruction. My lads entertained grandiose engineering ideas that never came to fruition; but those ideas kept their days occupied within tree branches.

Sun-warmed cherries provided ample fresh snacks; food for boys and raccoons alike.

In deep winter, the tree offered shelter for blue jays and incessant hammering woodpeckers, undisturbed by lads sitting in a hammock slung between two branches or the swinging of a roped tire.


I have but a small city sized lot, in an ever-expanding city landscape. Yet, trees fortuitously planted by that builder years before we arrived continue to grace my family with memoirs of tree stories.

trees are poems that the Earth writes upon the sky Kahlil Gibson

With much of my local landscape changing, I wonder not so much of what is now gone but rather, what more will be missed.

Like the eaglet born within its steel lined nest, children born today will miss what is rapidly being removed from their landscape.

A steel girded home for a newly born eaglet is surely better than no home.


Yet, who would not rather wish for that eaglet trees so tall that natural green leaves would surround its nest.

Who would not rather wish for children the breathtaking experience of standing beneath hundred year old trees flush with blossoms.

Trees readily co-exist in an urban setting. By their existence, they provide not only living breath but a life-essence presence.

Far better to plant trees today, that will soar to great heights, than to regret their loss later. Planting now ensures future generations will be able to discover life experiences that await within their presence.

While an eaglet may be born within steel grids, it quickly masters skills to soar far beyond human vision.

Not so for the small birds, squirrels, and raccoons.

Not so for the small child, teen, and adult.

Within several city blocks, I am privileged to experience trees and their life stories. In my city, all it has taken is political will and public determination.

To plant trees is a legacy planted for all future generations.








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