Preplanned memorial meals trend up

Five times a year, my son Oliver and I go to the Toronto Children’s Symphony series. Afterwards we head over to Pangaea to have a bite to eat with Martin before heading home for a suburban Saturday night. It’s a great ritual that I hope will ensure he grows up to be a civilized, open minded young man.

Driving home after our last concert, we were listening to CBC Radio One and caught the tail end of a very interesting discussion on Talking Books. Although the subject was The End of The Alphabet, by CS Richardson, the panel’s discussion digressed into a chat about how our aging society has developed a grief culture that views grieving as noble and maybe even a little bit romantic. (You can download the full discussion as an MP3 file for free if you want to hear the whole chat, BTW).

To make a long story short, I was intrigued to learn that many people are pre-planning not only their basic funeral arrangements but also their wakes. While purchasing a burial plot and casket has traditionally been viewed as a selfless act designed to spare your loved ones trouble, this panel asserted that a new aspect of this trend is that these pre-planners derive pleasure while anticipating their own funerals and planning their memorial parties.

This discussion really hit home with me since I have planned my own funeral at least three times over. In fact, pretty much each time I attend a funeral I spend a couple of days afterwards musing (both aloud and silently) about what I’d do the same and what I’d do differently for my own funeral. I always thought it was my controlling nature that led me to these thoughts but now I can blame a cultural movement.

In my imagined memorial plan, the menu is similar to the one I chose for my 40th birthday party (yes, I am such a control freak that I planned my own party): tea sandwiches of all kinds, Eini cupcakes with butter cream frosting, and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot for everyone who attends. Although I’d love for everyone to stay long enough to drink their entire bottle at my wake and spend the evening reminiscing about our shared adventures, my mourners can take the wine home to toast me in private if they prefer. I have similar plans for music, flowers, eulogies, and, believe it or not, loot bags.

My husband thinks I’m absolutely cracked and won’t allow me to hint at this subject when he’s around. What do you think? Is it morbid that while I’m healthy as a horse and just entering the second half of my life that I think about my wake? And, should it be important that my wake is the kind of party I’d want to attend myself?


16 Responses to Preplanned memorial meals trend up

  1. I signed up with the Neptune Society so shortly after I die I’ll be whisked away to a furnace and then to the ocean (and it’s all prepaid in 1980s dollars). I’m not a big fan of parties in my honor now, so I’d prefer none when I die.

  2. danamccauley says:

    No party? Really? Everyone already will have the day off work so there should be something planned to keep them busy, right?

  3. Beth says:

    Dana you are absolutley morbid! And funny and weird. I can’t believe you’d tempt fate by talking about your wake this way!

    I do think you might be right about this being a trend though. Mavis (I think that’s the character’s name) on Coronation Street had a Living Memorial party a few episodes back. It was pretty funny since no one had anything nice to say about her and she got mad! Just goes to show you that you can’t predict the future – not even your own wake!

  4. courtney says:

    Im like that too. After the epci productions I did for my parents,I’m a funeral snob. I always say dont do that to me or what I want, Havent planned the menu. But I’ll find a way to micro manage that too.

  5. danamccauley says:

    Courtney, you sound like a soul sister!

  6. Martin Kouprie says:

    O help me God!

  7. megan says:

    Since I have buried both parents, I think about my funeral. I’ve picked the music, the cemetary, the open mike oppurtunity to say great things about me ;). Haven’t thought about the menu but thanks for the idea. More to think about.

  8. danamccauley says:

    And loot bags – don’t forget those!

    Actually Martin, you could use the loot bags as an opportunity to get rid of all my stuff – I know you have your eye on my closet space. ; )

  9. Cheryl says:

    Okay, I was in your corner until I got to the loot bags part. I wouldn’t advertise this particular perk or you’re going to have people EXCITED to be invited to your funeral. All I can think about now if what a fabulous cookbook collection you must have… Come to think of it, please DO include me on the guest list 😉

  10. Kitt says:

    That takes the (cup)cake!

    I’ve got a will and a cemetery plot, but for everything else, the bereaved are on their own.

  11. adrian says:

    Sounds very sensible, and good fun too, though I guess it depends on how one sees a funeral. Is it about the life or the death?
    Personally, I’ve got the music picked out too: some Miles Davis, Bach, Sinatra, Blue Nile, Van… perhaps I should give the attendees a mix-tape instead of a loot-bag.

  12. Adrian, your mixed Christmas CD’s are always a highlight – if I outlive you I want a CD for sure.

  13. C. Broughton says:

    Be careful crossing the road………..the cheese platter , Champagne and cupcakes at your 40th were awesome!!!!

  14. rona maynard says:

    Interesting post, Dana. Now I know I’m not the only one. I’ve clearly got more work to do: in my focus on the music and the poetry, I completely forgot about the post-funeral treats.

  15. […] are in the throes of cupcake mania, too.  (Still no reports of anyone in Europe serving them at a funerals in those countries but perhaps they’ll grow into that practice in time, […]

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