We recently had a death in the family. Our family matriarch. Grandmother. She lived a long, rich life and had made a list of specific wishes before she died.
- Cremation was preferred over burial.
- No funeral.
- No flowers.
- Have a party at the boat house at the lake.
- She had two songs that she wanted sung at the service.
We carried out her wishes, but had to bend the rules on funeral flowers. Flowers are so healing and we knew that a wreath would help soften the appearance of the metal urn we displayed at the memorial service. The florist we used is practically across the street from the crematory, so we arranged to have them deliver not only the flowers, but the urn, the printed memorial package, and death certificates to the venue.
Grandmother was known as Grandma Birdy, as she loved all things feathered. Our collection of bird themed urns are inspired by her. We chose a white and gold hummingbird urn for her. Crafted from cloisonne, this sturdy metal urn has a delicate design, but is suitable for burial, which we did a couple of days after the celebration ceremony. The wreath was created with white roses and lilies with a few lady bugs added for good luck. The burial followed a couple of days after the service, and with the advice from the florist, we lightly misted the arrangement and kept it cool, which kept the flowers fresh in the August heat, and we were able to transport to the cemetery and place it on the grave.
Choosing cremation did allow for a little more flexibility. We held the service a couple of weeks after she passed to allow friends and family from out of town to make travel arrangements. The ceremony was held on a Saturday and burial occurred on the following Monday. The venue had table seating for 80, full kitchen, large flat screen monitor, and overlooked the lake. We arranged for audio for our vocalist and catered mini sandwiches, chips, cookies, and drinks from Hy-Vee.
We tried to keep the theme in check with her colorful personality. We used bright and cheerful table covers and decorated with bird statuary and trinkets that grandmother had collected and then we invited the guests to take one as a keepsake or remembrance.
Not knowing what to expect in the way of guests, we were touched when we realized we probably had 100 in attendance. The funeral home was gracious during the arrangement process and never pressured us. They actually saved us several hundred dollars when we discovered that the cemetery required a concrete vault for the burial of the urn. We were able to order it from the funeral home at considerable savings and they offered to deliver it to the cemetery.
We bought a memorial package from them that included a guest register book, 100 personalized funeral programs that fit our theme, 25 laminated obituaries, and thank you cards. The cost for this package was over $200 and after the service we realized that we had many programs left over.
The funeral director also arranged for the vocalist from a list of recommended contacts that they worked with on a regular basis. Even with a two week notice, scheduling conflicts created challenges in securing someone to sing. We did finally have success and she did a beautiful job. The funeral director also educated us as to what the appropriate fees were to pay both the vocalist and the minister and we appointed a family member to take care of payment at the service.
The two weeks leading up to the event were a little stressful and we were starting to wish grandmother had ordered a traditional funeral, but in the end it was a beautiful day with a couple of touching eulogies, letters read from far away family and friends, and memories shared with loved ones who took the time to come celebrate the life of one of our greatest generation.