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The Last Post: a letter about my father’s funeral plans

I received a letter in the post from my Dad this week.  This is nothing new.   All my life Dad has been a wonderful correspondent;  sending cuttings from the paper he thought I might be interested in, job ads when my feet itched for something new;  lovely long letters about the weather and the garden when I was abroad.  So, before I opened the letter I just assumed it was another cutting or somesuch.

I was heading out the door, so opened the letter quickly and skimmed the cover note attached to what looked like a couple of typewritten sides.   “don’t want to shock you” and “alarm” jumped out at me.   I stopped, and took a moment.  Dad had written about his funeral plans and arrangements.

We have discussed this over the last few months.  His perspective is an assumption that he will die before my mum.  His paramount concern is that when the time comes, we do everything we can to reduce her distress.   So, the conversation has been around the timings and order of things;  cremation then funeral;  memorial and funeral in one with cremation later;  which church, and how to arrange the parking;  whether to have egg sandwiches or pork pies (well, not quite but you get the drift).

The letter was also sent to my brother.  Our instructions are now clear.   For my Dad it is an important important thing to sort out. For us, it is comforting to know that we will be doing his wishes, and the very best for our mum at what will be a terrible time for her.

In a way, this was the best and most important letter I have ever received from my Dad.   It feels positive and good, and frankly, one less thing to worry about.   I’ll save his folder full of “best funeral services I have been to”, but suffice to say, we won’t be short of material when the time comes.  He’s given us strict instructions on this too.   No photographs on the service sheet.  We might disobey that one when the time comes.  My ever compassionate Dad.   A few more good letters in him yet I hope.

Worried about correctly interpreting your parents wishes? Concerned about having difficult conversations? Go to the forum and tell us your situation.

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