Posted on August 15, 2015
A Time For Goodbyes (Part 2 of 2)
In the last post, I discussed how I had researched having to discuss the death of her grandfather with my daughter, Anna. In this post, I’m recalling the memorial service we attended and why I am thankful for the actions of my mother and father-in-law, in their attending to end-of-life affairs early on so that we, as a family, were left unburdened with having to attend to arrangements in our time of grief.
Another thing I am thankful for, though I only realized it afterward, is that my father-in-law opted for cremation rather than being buried. While I thought the decision odd, at first, I have later learned that cremation is actually becoming incredibly popular among Americans. In fact, according to the National Funeral Directors Association, 2015 marks the first year that more Americans will choose cremation over a traditional burial.
The reason, though, that I was thankful for the memorial service is because it was far easier to explain to my daughter how the metal urn on the pedestal at the front of the church was where Paw Paw lived now. Before I knew a memorial had been chosen, I certainly felt anxious about the conversation I was going to have to have with Anna about seeing her Paw Paw in a coffin. Having a ceremony that was far easier for my toddler to understand meant I could more evenly divide my attention between my children and my wife who was suffering a deep grief at the loss of her father.
After the memorial, the family and close friends of the family reconvened at the home of my mother-in-law. Unlike after a burial service, where the deceased is left at the graveside, the cremated remains of my father-in-law were there with us in the living room. I can’t really explain it, but we all agreed that this truly made it feel as though he was in the room with us. Additionally, Anna and her cousins really seemed to grasp that their Paw Paw would still be at the house each time they came back, just in his new home, in the urn.
As a result of my in-laws taking the time to research cremation, and seeing the very healthy way my daughter and wife were able to understand and deal with their grief, Catherine and I have begun to discuss our own end-of-life planning and whether or not cremation is or should be the choice for us. But more on that later, I’m sure.