Arbor Memorial invited blogger Katie Allen to experience what it’s like to plan her husband’s simulated funeral.
Katie: Funeral planning is not something people want to talk about. It’s not fun, but it’s inevitable for everybody and so I think today’s important to start that conversation.
Text on screen: “Nearly 70% of Canadians only know basic details about their partner’s funeral preferences, or haven’t discussed the topic at all*”
*A 2015 survey of 1,033 Canadians conducted on behalf of Arbor Memorial.
Katie: I am here today to plan my husband Jason’s simulated funeral. And then he’s able to join us and we’re going to look at what I planned and my expectations versus what he would have expected for his own funeral.
Shannon Burberry, Funeral Home Manager, Forest Lawn Funeral Home & Cemetery: Okay, so Katie, we’re going to go over that vital statistic information that we need now for the government.
Katie: Funeral planning – you know, you think burial or cremation. And those are sort of the only main decisions that you have to make. But there’s so much more to it.
Shannon: We want to talk about ways that we can personalize the service, we want to talk about flowers, food, people that might speak at the service.
Katie: So for looking at funeral arrangements for Jason, I’d want something more like an urn, a place that we could potentially go visit.
Robert MacFarlane, Branch Manager, Memory Gardens Funeral Home & Cemetery: And for example here, this is what we call our nature rock so the urns would actually be interred into the garden.
Katie: I think one of the rocks would be a nice balance.
Katie: For what we’re looking for.
I remember when my grandfather passed away feeling this…you know…feeling heavy right afterwards. But then we got together as a family and we celebrated his life and that, I think, really helped us heal. So I think it’s important to have a service so that you can get your family and loved ones together.
Robert: So after going through the simulated experience today with Katie, it is very similar to what we deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Shannon: We were able to have a bit more of a light-hearted discussion about some things. We were able to focus on what she thought Jason might want her to do in regards to his arrangements.
Robert: And we’d make sure that they feel good about their decision.
Katie: And you’ve also been able to then look at maybe pre-planning and look at how much things will cost to be able to carry out the person’s final wishes.
Jason Allen, Katie’s husband: My end-of-life, it would be more of a celebration. I don’t do somber very well.
Katie: They also had suggested that because you build speakers we could even bring in some of the speakers that you built to play some of the music and you know, show it off.
We never really discussed what we’d want for one another.
One thing that they can do is they’ve got a lot of really neat catering options and I said something like chicken wings, or something like that, would suit your –
Jason: Goes really well with fancy clothes, as well
Jason: For my ashes I’d probably want…Thrown them to the wind.
Jason (To Katie): No cucumber sandwiches.
Katie: I know, exactly.
The one thing that surprised me the most was all the different options that you have for customization.
Shannon: Your children, I am sure they’d like to have a spot where they can come and visit and know that’s where that’s where dad is.
Jason: Yeah my “toss to the wind” idea is probably not so okay.
Katie: It’s important to having these conversations before you’re in a situation where you need to make those tough decisions during that difficult and emotional time.
Text on screen: Katie and Jason plan to continue the conversation about one another’s wishes for their final arrangements…With or without cucumber sandwiches.
There are up to 87 decisions that need to be made when planning a funeral. Make your first decision today.