While it was extremely hard to lose my uncle Buddy, of whom I was very fond, his memory will live on forever in my mind. I will also remember all the care and thought my mother put into preparing for Buddy’s end-of-life celebration.

He was an accomplished trumpet player who served as a band member for the Shriners for many years. Buddy often blessed our small congregation with his music on Easter morning. I can still hear how the stained-glass windows would rattle when he would strike the high notes of “The King is Coming.”

Mom arranged for a fellow band member to play taps at Buddy’s graveside.

Buddy had an amazing green thumb. As children we loved the corn on the cob from his garden and avoided the red rose bushes he tended, which were far too close to our make-shift football field.

The altar and coffin were decorated with spreads of brilliant red roses that Mom knew he would appreciate.

After the ceremony we gathered to share stories and memories, like how Buddy taught us as kids the proper way to eat corn on the cob.

Mom knew him, noticed the little things others missed, and planned his celebration of a life well lived.

I hope I have the compassion and courage to have the right conversation with my mom about the type of end-of-life celebration she would want. In thinking about this conversation, I have gathered some tips that I think are valuable enough to share. I hope you find value in them.

  • Start the conversation with an attitude of listening vs. telling.
  • Let her know it’s about what she wants, not you.
  • Phrase any concerns as questions.
  • Leave room for emotions; this is an emotional topic
  • Leave the conversation open; it is an ongoing one.
  • Try to end the discussion on positive point or topic.

I will be sure and give mom advance notice and plan the perfect setting for her comfort.

P.S. I love you, mom!

Need more information on how to ensure a meaningful end of life plan for your loved one? Contact your Financial Benefits Counselor.