My father died about 13 months ago. My mother had predeceased him by about 5 years. Both my parents were adament in their belief that money spent on funerals is money better spent elsewhere.To assure that we would not, out of grief orfor any other motive, spend a pile of money for caskets, flowers, gravesites, gravestones, or any of the other trappings that usually accompany the death of a loved one, my parents prepaid their "funerals." They arranged for simple cremations, asked for donations to their local volunteer ambulance squad in lieu of flowers, wrote out some notes to help the local paper compose their obituaries, and asked that we have a gathering, at their home, of friends and relatives at a date that would be convenient for the majority of those people. We held a gathering for each of them a month or so after each died, and anyone so inclined said a few words or told about some fond memory of the one who'd died. The prearranged cremations cost about $700 each, and included picking up the body, the cremation, the announcement in the newspaper, printed announcements of their deaths that I could send to myriad friends, and thank you notes to send to anyone who attended our memorial gathering or contributed to the ambulance squad. The money which was prepaid was kept by a trust service set up for just such a purpose, and gathered a little interst, which was distributed to my parents at the end of each year.Not only did my parents get the "funeral" that they wanted, but they helped us by lightening the responsibility of funeral arrangements that we were ill equipped to make in our time of grief.As they wished, we scattered their ashes in the same spot on their favorite mountain.
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