One of the most common questions I get asked is, “What happens if the family members can’t agree on services?”
The answer is always the same. We wait until they do.
Jean died in her sleep a week before Thanksgiving and was brought into our care. There were no prearrangements made, so that meant one thing:
Her family had to decide for her.
Jean’s husband had passed away a few years prior to her, and an elaborate service was thrown for him, complete with 4 stretch limousines and a beautiful copper casket.
Now it was her turn.
When I met with Megan and Erin, Jean’s two children, I informed them that since there was no Power of Attorney, they would jointly hold rights to their mom’s disposition. They could decide what would happen to her body, but they would have to be in agreement.
This wasn’t an episode of your favorite 90s sitcom, where the conflict lasted approximately 15 minutes, just after the theme song, and right before the 7 minutes it takes to wrap up the life lesson.
This was real life—and in real life, conflict doesn’t work that way.
Erin wanted to mirror the services they’d put on for Dad, and Megan thought that a simple cremation would be more practical, saving Mom’s money to be distributed amongst the family.
Neither one was willing to bend.
After listening to them bicker for about 15 minutes, I decided to step in.
“Alright ladies, I know you both want the same thing in the end, and that’s to lay your mother to rest. Erin, you want to have a full service, and Megan, you want to do a simple creation. How about this? A memorial service with Mom present, and a cremation to follow. Megan gets the service she wanted, and Erin gets the cremation. You both have the same end goal, we just need to come to a compromise on how to reach it.”
I wish I could tell you that they listened to me. That they heeded my words of advice and came to an agreement, but the truth is, the fighting went on for another 30 days. I ended up having to file a body abandonment claim with the Public Administrator’s office. Once we released custody of Jean to the county, I never heard anything else about it.
I hope they laid her to rest.