I have been the sole caregiver for MIL for 7 years. I just started the Medicaid community care process. According to the lawyer the final arrangements should be prepaid. I'm at a loss. She is very introverted. Family does visit her twice a year but they have denounced my husband and myself. I don't want to have anything to do with them once she passes, including sharing my grief. I'm having trouble deciding what to do for the arrangements. I originally considered all the bells and whistles (embalming, open casket, etc.) one day lay out (wake) , church service and burial. Money quickly became a factor once she required 24hr care. The family won't help with the money. I'm now considering closed casket (last 2 "senior" funerals I've been to they looked pretty bad) with church service and burial. I feel guilty. I want her to have the best to reflect her many years of hard work. The thing is, the funeral is for the family and I don't want to be there because of them. Feeling despondent.

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If you’re anticipating any family strife at the funeral I’d go with something simple and brief. A printed piece of some sort can tell of MIL’s life and be handed to everyone who attends. I’m all for closed casket, I’ve never understood the desire to look at the dead, but that’s me. The “best” senior funeral I’ve attended was done at the gravesite, printed sheet on the person handed out, brief words by a minister and a family friend, quick prayer and done. It was probably 15 minutes total. It solved the issues of awkward family relationships, the fact that most of the deceased friends had already died, and still recognized her life without costing a fortune. The funeral isn’t for the person who has passed, it’s for the living and should be what works best for them. Blessings to you as you consider what to do
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I'm not understanding why the type of funeral is indicative of the person's worth. Because she was a hard worker is no reason to have a lavish send off. She and her family and friends can take pride in her accomplishments without breaking the bank at the funeral home.

I'm with Daughterof1930, have a burial service at the grave site. Hand out a beautiful booklet with her best photos, many accomplishments and life history and leave it at that.

Since you both have been denounced, I wouldn't THINK of having any get together afterwards. If they want to go out to eat after the brief service, they can. You both get in your car and go somewhere else. Then be done with them forever.
Good riddance.
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My mother was a recluse and even when she was younger, my parents never had any friends. She outlived all family. I’m an only child, but I understand your thoughts. When my mom and dad passed, neither had any funeral or memorial. It was the way they wanted it. I was vilified by my husband’s family for it, too. They are all of a religion that believes in huge, expensive, multi-part funerals. They didn’t understand my parent’s wishes and blamed me for “cheaping out”. His family has since drifted apart. When his brother passed, I didn’t want to be there either, but I gritted my teeth and got through it. I fear this is what you’ll have to do as well. If any of them try to engage you in an argument, don’t rise to the bait. This is the time when being “fake nice” is ok.

Has your MIL ever said anything that you can remember about what she might want done when she passes? Has your husband ever mentioned anything? Her wishes should take precedence over what the family wants. There’s nothing wrong with a small, private service. When my mom passed, the funeral director told me more and more people are opting out of large funerals.

Trust yourself to make the right decision.
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I was asked by my aunt (mom's sister) if I was going to have any "doings" for my mother (who is 95 years old) when she passes.

We live in Tijuana, mother is in a Memory Care facility here in Tijuana too. Mom's one sister lives in Texas and doesn't have the funds to fly out. The sister and brother who are left, live in Northern California. Neither of them are able to fly to Tijuana, nor would they want to. I don't feel I need to make a service or memorial 600 miles away for 2 siblings. I am mom's only child.

So we'll just have Mom cremated and leave it at that. I'm ok with it but I think I'll hear about it from my aunt. I plan on saying that she can organize whatever she'd want to (she's 93), but I'm working and probably wouldn't be able to get off work to fly up there. I think it will stop there.

Why do anything when all of mom's friends and most of her relatives are gone?

Life is even complicated in death.
Helpful Answer (25)

They only visit Mom twice a year! I find that pathetic!

But ya know, I do try to understand every family dynamic is different. I just couldn't handle that.

But since they can live their lives without much contact with Mother, I would assume they'd have very little interest in how she goes out.

If you feel you must appease them in some way, please think again. Whatever you decide to do, do it for your mil, you & hubby.

Like GardenArtist said, you ARE honoring her life, and have been for the last 7 yrs.

For the record, I like the graveside quicky with lovely handouts. Please let us know what you decide.
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Does your MIL have a circle of friends? Or will it be "just" family?
If she has a circle of friends then I would do small but 1 day, closed casket (In the state where I live if there is a closed casket you are not required to embalm, saves a bit of money). Simple at the funeral home and burial or cremation can be private.
If it is just family, you can do the same thing and again private burial or you can do the family "thing" at the cemetery.
Real simple would be a cremation right away then have a small memorial reception for friends and family.
Since you are making the arrangements do what YOU feel is best, do what she would have wanted if that is in keeping with the finances.
Another thought would be to determine how much has to be spent in the process then take that figure to the Funeral Home and say this is the budget we have to work with what are your suggestions. I also suggest you go to more than one funeral home and ask about prices. There will be a "menu" that you can select from.
Better to do this now when you are not in a rush, over emotional, and more stressed than usual. You can take some time to look over options and make your decision at home with a cup of coffee and a clear head.
Helpful Answer (17)

First, honoring her for her many years of work is part of what you're doing now.

Funerals are for survivors, to express their grief (hopefully, although some can turn into less positive events when there are family disagreements and friction, and it seems as if that already exists).

Second, has she expressed any wishes or feelings about her own funeral? If not, use your judgment; you probably know her better at this point than the rest of the family.

You have no obligation to spend a lot of money in elaborate funerals; that isn't even the trend any more. Simple memorials are much more personal, and celebration of the deceased's life is a more positive outlook and less maudlin.

Third, what I've done so far is have a closed casket (no embalming) service, with locally close relatives and some close friends and supporters. A Memorial Service will be later, when I have it all planned out, and only family (including out of town relatives who couldn't come to the burial service) and close friends will be invited.

It will not be religious; it will be a memorial service by which all can share their memories and experiences, and learn of other's similar experiences with my father. With the emphasis being on "Celebration of Life", I've thought quite a bit as to what kind of music most expresses that, and I've decided that Schiller's Ode to Joy is the theme I want to use for the Celebration. It's exuberant, uplifting, and magnificent.

There won't be any maudlin speeches or maudlin music. I'm adamant about that.

Windyridge just had a memorial service for his recently deceased mother. I like the way he handled it. His thread is:

The little memory card style I've chosen echoes my father's philosophy, as well as his military service. I'll probably have them printed a bit larger to include some life events, perhaps a quote as to living life fully. I plan to bring memorabilia from his life, including his WWII parachute if I can find it. There will be a few other memory boards and kiosks, including family and hobbies.

I want people to leave the Celebration feeling glad that they came, remembering all the good things and feeling they want to live THEIR lives as my father did, enjoying it until it was physically impossible to do so.
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My father wanted no funeral. “Just leave me for the trash man” was what he always said. Mom ignored his wishes and put on a big 3 day ordeal for the attention she got. Now she’s looking down the barrel of 84 and expects me to do that for her but...we live 4 states away from the few people she still knows, she has no money for a lavish funeral nor do I, and she has not endeared herself to what family remains. I’m planning to cremate her and when I can do it; I will have her urn interred with my father where they used to live. Everyone has to do what works for their situation.
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As to prepayment, you might want to consider just the most expensive items, the casket, vault, cemetery plot, and leave the actual activities open until you feel comfortable with a plan on what level of activity you want.
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Lovestiks, I copied your information from your profile page so that we have a better idea about your situation. It sounds like you have a multitude of problems. Unfortunately your answers and comments have been turned off so we cannot go to your profile page and see what other posts you have made or that you commented on. It looks like quite a few. Also, I am not sure that the funeral is going to be the worse problem.

"FIL asked me to take care of MIL. I said yes... thinking he would outlive us all. He and MIL put the wheels in motion setting up POA+ for both. I felt kind of proud and special. Two years later FIL passed. The "family" seemed shocked about the above financial dealings and insists MIL is fine on her own and is wondering where the $ is. MIL requires attention, most is beginning of Alzheimer's but FIL did everything for her since 1989 cooking , cleaning and can you believe, bathing. She also doesn't drive. All very time consuming. MIL will not allow any strangers to help or in the house. Can't move her into our tiny home, and she can't afford to leave her home 10 minutes away from me. Her family is antagonistic at best. We are drained financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually and found some help from support groups."

Are you MIL's Durable Power of Attorney and Power of Attorney-Health Care now? And MIL's Executor of her Will? Because I have the feeling that the family is going to getting nasty as MIL's health declines. You state that you are financially drained--have you been paying for MIL's utilities and food and medications, etc. since she doesn't allow stangers into her house?

You can have a simple memorial service at a church also. Or at a park or at the grave site. Some people put photos on a large poster board ( 2 X 3 feet) or on a tri-fold cardboard poster with some information about the photos and /or set up a table that has some memorabilia that the person received or collected during their lifetime. If you set up a table with memorabilia, I wouldn't be surprised that the "family' argues over who gets what C-:)

Gardenartist has a wonderful idea with the "Celebration of Life" theme. It sounds so positive and so uplifting just saying the words "Celebration of Life" can bring a smile to your face.

We have had some interesting funerals locally. A couple of years ago, a local farmer was killed in a farm accident and his casket was taken to the cemetery on a flatbed trailer that was pulled by his favorite tractor. Another person competed in rodeos, so a rodeo rider volunteered to do a "cowboy's tribute" to the deceased and had his white horse lay on its side in the grass near the grave site during that memorial.

Since my father was buried in a different town then where the funeral was held, we had my cousin sing a solo at the grave site. Afterwards, those attending the grave site service went to a local restaurant and had coffee and snacks in a small conference room to warm everyone before they traveled back home (it was December).

Don't worry about what the family wants. If they want to have their own memorial service, let them. As long as it doesn't take the place of the one you and MIL have arranged. Do whatever you and your MIL want for her memorial service.
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