Discussion Forums

Planning a Funeral 
Started by Lila
14 Feb 2004, 12:23 AM

My dad has terminal lung cancer. They expect that he'll be with us until the summer.
Next week, my mom wants us to come over and talk about his funeral, and his obituary. She thinks we should plan this in advance - and with my dad.
I can barely talk about him dying with anyone! This is one of the only places I feel like I can come - yesterday was the first time that I was able to ask him questions about his cancer. Otherwise - I can't deal with it and I try to pretend that everything is okay.
How am I supposed to plan a funeral??? Is this normal? Have you ever heard of someone wanting to plan a funeral when the person is still alive? I'm scared I won't survive the conversation.
I guess if I was dying, I would like to be involved in this process but it's so hard.
I never thought life would be like this. I'm so sad inside but I can't acknowledge that because I feel like I'll just lose control.
I don't want to be around people. I sometimes blame my mom for what is happening. I'm angry all the time inside. The only thing that I seem to succeed at these days is my career. Oh, how I pray for strength today.
When I read an article in the newspaper about this website, it said that most people hope that they never have to use services like this. I can't believe I am one of these people. I'm 27 years old - but I truly believed that my dad would be here forever.

I'm so tired and I just want everything to be okay. If one more person asks me how my dad is, I'm going to scream.

I don't know what the purpose of this email is. I just want to know that someone out there understands because I've never felt so scared and so alone in my whole life. I'm getting used to that feeling.
Report this post      
Reply by Rustyalso
14 Feb 2004, 7:36 PM

Lila, I hear your pain and understand your feelings. I, too, have gone thro' this process and it really is scary.It is SO hard to lose a parent, no matter what age we are. We expect they will be there for us forever. Helping with these final plans with your Dad will be hard, because it brings us into a reality , we wish not to face, but on the other hand it may help your Dad with the things he is going thro' and help him deal with his emotions too, knowing the family is together and willing to do for him whatever he needs.
My prayers are with you and your family, and I know you will be able to meet the challenges ahead. Remember to enjoy each moment together and cherish each precious moment. Take care of yourself as well. God bless..
Report this post      
Reply by hope_4
16 Feb 2004, 11:17 PM

Hello Lila,
My husband is also dealing with terminal lung cancer; one note of hope is that he has gone by the date given by four months so far. One thing I have come to understand is that they too are dealing with the process and it is important that they know someone dear to them fully understands "their" concerns. They feel isolated otherwise especially when loved ones tell the cancer patient that everything will be alright-your father needs to know that he are "not alone "with the feelings of grief and loss.I tend to put myself in their shoes and determine what my actions will be. It is not an easy thing to do but think of it as one of the most important things you can give your father-understanding and the strength to help him through this. One does tend to want to blame someone for this horrible situation but it just causes anxiety within one's self-it doesn't change the end result-illness.You must ask your father what he wants regarding the planning the future services-it should be his final decision. I wish you strength and bravery during this ordeal; it is certainly one of the saddest times of our lives.
Report this post      
Reply by Sitz
17 Feb 2004, 9:50 PM

Lila - my heart goes out to you and your Dad. I lost my mother to meningitis the summer of 2001. She passed away just 16 hours after becoming sick. It was a total shock. On Dec 22 my Dad was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and is given 3 to 6 months. He has been going downhill rapidly since then. I am executor of my Dad's estate and he is quite adamant that we sit down and plan what to do about his service, his will, his posessions, etc. I, too don't want to have these conversations with him as it hurts so much but I know it makes him feel better to know that these things are taken care of. When Mom passed away we were all hoping that what we planned for a service was what she would have wanted because we never had a chance to talk to her about it. It does bring a small measure of comfort to know that Dad will have a service that he wants. I also understand how difficult it is to talk to your Dad about his condition and to face the fact that he is dying. My Dad calls it "the elephant in the room." It is always there and some people see it and others choose not to. I know that my Dad finds it very helpful to talk and I am learning the most amazing things from him. He is facing this with such courage and dignity. I can only hope that if I am ever faced with this situation that I can handle it half as well as he is. I am so sorry that at your young age you will be without your Dad. I am 46 and I often think that I am far too young to be without any parents at all. Life seems so unfair doesn't it. All I can say is that if your Dad wants to talk you should let him - even though it is breaking your heart. Hopefully this has been some help to you - just writing this has been helpful to me.
Report this post      
Reply by ConnieK
19 Feb 2004, 6:13 PM

OH Lila how I feel your pain. My mother, 56 years old, was recently diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that has spread to her brain. We have known since Jan 29 of this year and just today she is coming home from the hospital. She has a "few months" so we have been told. I am in shock and panic. My mom is going to die at a very young age, I can't come to terms with it. How do you tell someone that they are going to die? We are not sure how much my mom understands - sometimes she thinks she is in hospital for her "feet and ankles" oh dear. My brother and father want my mom to talk about her funeral but I find it so hard. She has had radiation and seems to be improving - how can she leave so soon. I wish I had the answers to share with you. I feel your pain. I am still in shock - most of my family and mom are. I have no idea what is going to happen when it finally sinks in???
Report this post      
Reply by Lila
21 Feb 2004, 2:42 AM

I don't know how to thank all of you for responding to this. It's so tough and I feel so alone these days. Even if I do talk about it, I'm never sure if people really understand.
It seems like when you come here, people DO understand. But that's scary in itself, isn't it? I mean do I really want to relate - or do you want to relate to me - when what we have in common is someone we love dying? It's like we're bonded by this enormous pain and so helpless to stop it.
I wish someone had a manual for living. I'd trade in my RRSP's for that one.

Thank you for caring... I'll pray for each of you tonight.

Report this post      
Reply by loriann
24 Feb 2004, 9:18 PM

Hello Lila. I can certainly understand where you are coming from. My dad has terminal lung cancer too. I never really know what to say to him. I find myself most of the time just listening to him. It seems to be working for us right now. Regarding the funeral I think your feelings are very normal however maybe the process would be very helpful for your father. I don't think it would be easy. It's hard for me to even think about it and it looks like it is on your plate right now. I hope this is helpful for you.
Report this post      
Reply by e
25 Feb 2004, 4:02 AM

Hi Lila. My heart is with you on this. I just lost my mom in January. The only other funeral I was really involved in planning before was my father-in-law's. He died very suddenly and unexpectedly of a stroke, and he had never discussed with anyone what he might want in terms of a funeral, or any of that stuff. It scared him, and he didn't like to think about it. Well, really, who among us does, eh? The result was that when he died, different people had different ideas about what he would and wouldn't want, and there were arguments that were pretty horrible and damaging to the family. The unscrupulous funeral director tried to upsell my mother-in-law on a $20,000 casket (which she didn't fall for) and charged $200 for a pot of coffee at the prayers (which she did pay). My Mom's death was completely the opposite. She had time to think about what she wanted, checked out the various funeral homes set things in place for how she wanted them to be. She had pre-planned most of her funeral, and thank goodness she did because I don't think we could have planned how to make a sandwich, let alone a funeral, after we lost her - we were so very, very sad. She hadn't written her obituary, but I did start on that before she passed away when she was very ill in the hospital. I bawled like a baby while I did it, and it DID hurt horribly because it really underlined for me who this wonderful woman we were losing really was. But it also reminded about good times, and how much she had accomplished in her life, and gave me things to talk about with her that I hadn't realized I'd never explored with her. Again, I was glad I'd done it, because it was so much easier on us after she died. I really couldn't have done it then. My guess is that your Mom probably feels like so much of this is out of her control and beyond her ability to do anything about...and she's probably hoping that the pre-planning will give her some peace of mind and a measure of certainty in the midst of this maelstrom of anticipatory grief. You have a chance to get to know your parents on a whole new adult level now...and from both a practical and an emotional standpoint, I hope you can find a way to work through the horror to make the most of your time together.      

Report this post      
Reply by Blue_2
27 Feb 2004, 11:34 PM

All of your stories are very inspirational. This Tuesday my husband and I are going to the funeral home to plan his funeral. He wants to pick the music and be involved. I am sort of pushing to do it soon while he is feeling not to bad. I was thinking maybe this was cruel but I am reassured through all of your writings how important it is for our loved ones to have some control. The final planning is atleast one thing they can control even if they can not control their illness.
Report this post      
Reply by ML
14 Mar 2004, 2:42 PM

Lila: One of the hardest things that we do in life is watch our loved ones hurt. You have found this web-site, take the tour as a volunteer. When you read what we are to look for when we sit with a palliative client and their families you will understand that all the feelings that you are having are normal. GOD what is normal? Your anger, fear, frustration, overwhelming grief, wanting to set blame, tired all the time etc. Contact your local Palliative/Hospice group and ask for help...talking to someone is one of the greatest self-help healers out there. Talk to your Dad while you can. Let him talk, let your Mom talk and you talk. Cry, yes you will cry you will feel overwhelmed by emotions but one day at a time--somedays it is one hour at a time. There will come a time in your life that you will look back at this horrid period in your life and wonder how you did it. But you will. ML
Report this post