My grandfather passed away one year ago today.
If I could only say a few things about my Dandad (that was how I pronounced “GrandDad” when I was young and from then on that was his name!), they would be that he loved my Nanny, he loved his family, and he loved Jesus. As the first grandchild, I had the special privilege of spending many of my childhood moments with my grandparents. They attended almost every event- birthdays, awards ceremonies, etc.- and we developed a special bond.
I was able to fly home the day after he died to help my family plan for his memorial service, and I am beyond thankful to have the flexibility to do that. To travel at a moment’s notice when needed.
It is amazing the amount of things you have to make decisions about when a loved one passes away. And no one tells you what grief does to your brain and body. It’s like everything happens in slow motion, and it becomes increasingly hard to focus. You want to allow yourself time to sit and cry, but that’s when your long to-do list starts running through your brain. Once you muster up the motivation to tackle the list, you find your strength and energy are completely sapped.
I do not write this to complain about all the work that was involved. It was my privilege to serve my Nanny (grandmother) and my family in whatever way I could. However the experience made me realize how important it is to be organized and have a plan.
Even if you don’t care about being organized for yourself, it will mean a great deal to the ones you leave behind. The greatest gift you could possibly give your loved ones is a plan. That way, they can grieve and spend time with family without worrying about programs, music, chapels, the reception, pictures, and which scriptures are appropriate and will bless those in attendance. Make your decisions in advance. Is it easy? No. Will it bless your family greatly for them to know exactly what your wishes are? Absolutley, one hundred percent yes!
So consider adding these things to your to-do list. No one knows the number of days they have left! It is never too late to think about how you want your life to be celebrated.
1. Make a Will
Get your legal documents in order. Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Living Will, etc. Think about which possessions you’d like to leave to whom. Don’t put your loved ones in the position of having to guess what you would want. Give them the gift of clarity.
2. Plan your Funeral/Memorial Service
Some people think that it makes things easy on their loved ones by saying, “Oh, I don’t care what you do. Whatever’s easiest. I’m gone, so it doesn’t matter anyway!” In fact, it can be very stressful on your loved ones trying to guess and sometimes argue about what you would have wanted. You’d be surprised at how close friends and family members will largely disagree on what the deceased would have wanted. Flowers, or no flowers? What music would you like to be played? Cremation or burial? Do you want a slideshow displayed with pictures of your family and friends? Do you want a formal service with a minister, or a more informal one with family and friends sharing personal stories?
You might think it’s morbid to prepare all of this in advance, but I would argue that it’s the most responsible and loving thing you can do for your friends and family. Take the time to think it through, and write it down. Your loved ones will be grateful for the guidance!
When David and I left Dallas after the memorial service, we both decided to spend some time on our flight to write down our wishes. It was not easy, as just the thought of us being separated by death brings tears to my eyes. But it was necessary, and I feel a great peace knowing that he will not have to worry about those details if the Lord calls me home before him.
And while we’re at it, let’s talk about the Lord! I have all confidence that I will be joining Him in heaven one day… do you?
I believe Jesus died for my sins, conquered the grave, and rose again. He is my Savior, Redeemer, Creator, Healer, Provider, and Friend. And He is preparing a place for me as we speak. When I die, I will join Him in heaven, all because I simply told Him I believe in Him and what he did on the cross. You do not have to be “perfect” before going to the Lord. In fact, Jesus spent a lot of his time with tax collectors, prostitutes, the diseased, and the demon-possessed. If you have any questions about your faith, my door is open to you. I may not have all the answers, but I know the One who does!
And on this one year anniversary of my Dandad entering heaven’s gates, the man who insisted that Jesus was his Best Friend, I can think of no better way to honor him than by sharing my own faith.