Today is a short but sweet post, just to remind you that the details really do matter. And there’s one set of details in particular, that is really important to get right. Namely, the dates you entered and exited this world.
Most people – should they choose to get married – spend quite a lot of time figuring out all the details and, generally speaking, seem to revel in it.
It could be working out colour palettes, deciding on venues, dresses or tasting copious amounts of cake.
Regardless of the actuals, a lot of time and money and energy is spent on getting the details quite right.
However, there’s something to be said for recognising that no matter how much you plan; how much energy you pour into that planning process, things may still go wrong.
My own marriage is a case in point.
We had a photo album compiled and the spine has the date we got married on it: 1st of June 2016.
Except we didn’t. We got married on the 21st of June.
I didn’t spot this mistake until it was too late. And if I’m honest, it doesn’t really bother me that much.
…But Not All Mistakes Are Equal
However, when my grandparents died – and they died five years apart – on both occasions, the details were wrong.
I don’t remember if it was both the birth and death dates that were wrong in each case.
But certainly at least one, if not both of those dates, were miscommunicated at the funeral service, on both occasions.
And you may be thinking, ‘Well, so what?’ But it matters.
Watching my parents’ reaction (my dad in particular as it was his parents), and that of my aunt, you could see they bristled.
But no one says anything at a funeral because it’s impolite to do so, even when it’s as important as relating the small matter of the years in which that person was alive.
So, unsurprisingly, no corrections were ever made, but… the details were wrong.
The date of birth was wrong.
The date of death was wrong.
And those dates printed on the Order of Service were wrong.
In day to day life, does this affect my dad or my aunt? No.
But when they think about the funeral, I am aware that this is an issue that comes up for them every time.
An unwelcome reminder that the ritual supposed to be the closing of a life was undermined by an administrative error that should never have happened.
There’s something about getting somebody’s life dates wrong that sticks with the remaining family members.
And I wonder what can we do about this? As it happens, I think there are a couple of things that we can do.
More Conversations = Fewer Mistakes
Mistakes will always happen, but we can try to lessen the probability of them doing so.
Firstly, even if you have no reason to think you’ll need them any time soon (and I hope you don’t), it’s worth contacting a few funeral directors and having a chat with them.
They may offer a broadly similar service, but they will likely have very different approaches and it really is worth spending time working out which one is right for you and your family.
Also, speak to whomever is likely to lead the service, whether that’s a religious leader, celebrant , family member or friend.
Talk to them first so that they really know who you are and what you want so that they have a thorough understanding of the life they will be reflecting on.
Because he better that person knows us, the chances of them getting those really important details wrong is greatly reduced.
Also, if you’re able to – and I recognise this may not always be possible – try to get the Orders of Service ahead of time.
Check them through and make sure somebody has proofread them.
But remember – not everything has to be on you if you’re the person arranging a funeral so do ask those around you to help and seek their support if you’re able to do so.
As with everything in End of Life Planning, the more you can do ahead of time, i.e. before the point of need, the greater the chance of your wishes being carried out and the details being correct.
You can be assured that the people around you who have responsibility for double-checking those details will get them correct too.
I can live with the date of my marriage on a photo album being wrong but it would upset me to think that at my own funeral, the person giving the service would get my birth and death dates wrong.
It may seem like a small thing, but it’s a really, really important one.
The details matter because when we get them wrong, other people remember and have to live with the reminder.
So if you’re able to get your End of Life Plan in place; if you’re able to record really important details and share them with everyone who needs to know about them, then I think that can only be a good thing.
Until next time, take care.