Why I Started Planning For My Funeral In My 20’s
The past 8.5 years I have spent as a full time missionary. I travel the world multiple times each year and am often away from my family. This has been a routine for me. Each year in the summer, I would leave to go overseas. During my time away, I would check in back home and after the work was complete, I would return to my family. Some times repeating this process 2-3 times over the course of the summer months.
A few years ago, at the age of 28, I found myself headed back from a trip to Africa. I had just touched down in the US after multiple flights and as always, I called my mother to let her know I had made it safely. This call didn’t go as planned. I started sharing about my trip as I normally would, when my mother broke in and told me she had some news. She wanted to wait until I got home and she could see me, but people had already started posting on Facebook and she didn’t want me to find out through social media. She proceeded to tell me that my Uncle, her older brother, had had a heart attack and that he didn’t make it.
My Uncle had a heart attack and just like that, without any warning, he was gone.
She was crying at this point. And me, well, I was honestly jet-lagged from the time change and completely in shock. I finished out the call with her and started walking towards the gate. As I did, I crossed paths with a dear friend of mine and when I did, the floodgates opened and I lost it. He hugged me as I explained what had happened and I cried, and cried. I was still crying as I boarded the plane. In that moment, I felt so alone and so far away from family. I felt absolutely helpless to do anything and angry that when my mother needed me the most, I was out of reach on a long flight back from Africa. My Uncle died. He was gone. No one expected it. No one saw it coming. No one planned for it. That’s something you do when you’re old and the end is near. Or so I thought.
That single moment changed my view on things.
I’m a Christian and as a believer, I believe in the Rapture of the Church. All of my life I have joked, that I would never die, because I had made reservations to go in the Rapture. You can laugh, it’s okay. It’s funny… And to be quite honest, I’m still banking on those plans. Losing my Uncle though, made me consider what my family would have to go through if my plans should fail, and I would one day die (before the Rapture).
So, not long after my Uncle’s funeral, I set down at my computer and typed up my plans; how I would want my service to go, who would speak and what I want to happen. I detailed it out, right down to what I wanted to wear. My goal was to take all the questions out of the equation. I wanted my family to be able to walk into the funeral home if that time ever came and know exactly what to do. My hope was that in their time of loss, it would make things much easier on them. (Yes, getting life insurance would have been a good move too, but I was young and my missionary paycheck was not enough to afford that.) And while I hope those plans will never be used, it does add a level of peace to my life knowing my loved ones will have less to worry about if that time should come.
We should never approach life expecting it to end sooner than we would like, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for the unexpected either.