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Preplanning - A Story

Anna walked slowly down the hallway to the room that Ben had always called his "office." She looked around the room, at the shelves filled with his favorite books and the mementos of their shared life. She took a deep breath, sat at the desk and lifted the phone to start placing the calls to their children.

Who would have guessed that in a matter of months, the strong, vibrant man she had been married to for over fifty years would be lying in a bed with a Hospice volunteer standing near his side? A tear slipped from her eye and trailed down her cheek. How could she face life without him? How could she place him in a casket and say good-bye to him?

She thought it was ironic that only a year earlier Ben had been the one to insist that they pre-arrange and pre-pay for their funerals. He had always worried because statistics show that men die sooner than their wives and he didn’t want her to have the burden of trying to make decisions while she was overcome with grief. He wanted Anna to make her own decisions about her funeral and he would make his own.

He had also worried about the costs of the funeral, especially if either one of them had an extended illness. It would be one less thing they would have to worry about, he had insisted. The funeral director had met with them in a large, comfortable office and spoke with them about all of the different options that were available. Anna had been amazed at how funerals had changed since they had buried her parents over twenty years ago. The funeral director answered all of their questions and asked one that Anna had never considered, “How do you want to be remembered?” The funeral director spoke about the importance of a funeral for the survivors. Anna now realized that truer words had never been spoken. Ben was known by so many and his funeral would be a time to honor him and remember how much he was loved. Anna was so grateful that she knew what he wanted for his funeral service in order to celebrate his life.

One year ago, with a feeling of peace and comfort, Anna and Ben were able to make decisions about their funerals, saving the surviving spouse the anguish of making those decisions alone at the time of their death. And now, Anna knew she would be forever grateful for her husband’s wise decision.

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