End of Life Planning

6/5/2023 | By Amy Dickinson

A woman is saddened that the family of a longtime community friend will not be holding a service to honor the friend’s passing and asks “Dear Amy” what she thinks. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson has to say about influencing a family’s memorial service decisions.

Dear Amy: 

An elderly person in our small community has just died. Those in my generation have known her for our entire lives.

One of her sons was in my class in our small high school. She was extremely active in our church, and as her health started failing, we did what we could to visit with her and be helpful to her family.

This probably sounds like a silly problem, but her family has decided not to have any kind of service for her. They said this was her wish.

Some of us in town are somewhat surprised and feeling a little hurt about this.

I’d like to encourage the family to have a service of some kind, but attempting to sway their memorial service decisions seems like an overreach.

What do you think?

– Sad

Dear Sad: 

memorial flowers - memorial service decisions

Telling a family what to do after the death of a parent in order to soothe the community is definitely an overreach.

You and other members of your community might want to hold a simple, non-religious sharing circle (for lack of another term) as a way to mark your friend’s passing. Perhaps you could plant a tree in a prominent space and dedicate it to her (her children might want to attend, if they are local).

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from influencing memorial decisions to friends with Alzheimer’s to cancer survivor struggles. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

Amy Dickinson