I know in previous posts I’ve been a little hard on those who choose to go all out for funerals. This is not to say that I don’t believe funerals are important, they 100% are. Taking time to celebrate the life of the person you’ve lost is vital to the healing process. I just also happen to believe that you can have a wonderful memorial without spending copious amounts of money.
Lillian was 61 years old. She had seemingly died quickly, leaving her family in a state of shock. It could’ve been because she was so jubilant, and lively, but I think it was because she didn’t tell her children that she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Brain cancer.
When I met with her husband, he informed me that they had decided to not have a service because they didn’t have very much money. He just wanted to cremate her and take her home. I asked him what he would have liked to do if money weren’t an issue.
“I don’t like to think that way.” he said “Humor me, please.”
He sat quietly for a few moments and finally spoke.
“Lillian loved the water. She loved to splash her feet around in the ocean, although she never actually learned how to swim. We even went on vacation once, to Santa Barbara, and we would talk about buying a house right on the beach one day. I promised her we would, when things got better. Things just never got better.”
He stopped, and sniffed. I waited a few more moments to make sure he was done speaking.
“I’d like to help you keep your promise and I think I have an idea. Let me make a few calls.”
I reached out to an old colleague of mine whose family owned a small plane and chatted with them about a scattering. I then reached out to the Health Department to make sure my idea was legal.
I spoke with the family about my idea. They were over the moon.
About 2 weeks later, on what would have been their 27th wedding anniversary, Lillian’s husband, joined by the rest of the family gathered on the beach. They drank beer, ate chips and shared memories and stories about Lillian’s life. Then, at 5:40pm, as the sun was starting to set, they looked up, and saw a small plane fly by and scatter Lillian’s cremated remains.
They toasted her as they watched her be returned to the ocean, to her new home not too far from the beaches of Santa Barbara.