Is there a best way to have a memorial service before my husband's death?

On a mission asked...

i'm thinking of having some sort of open-house or get together BEFORE my husband dies. I would like him to hear some fond memories people have of him or things he did that people will remember him for. No use having people he doesn't see often come to a funeral and say some of these nice things when he's dead. Do you have an opinion on this?

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

This is a beautiful idea, and I applaud you for embracing it.

There are no absolute rights or wrongs here, but I have been to a few such events, and can offer only the advice that you already know: Make it a gathering that will have special meaning to your husband.

I recall one lovely tribute held for a hunter at a Moose Lodge -- complete with moose heads -- that was held for a hunter two weeks before he died of brain cancer. When the same site was used a couple years later for an environmentalist friend, it seemed like a jarringly bad fit.

The gathering will naturally become a good fit for your husband if you talk with him about his wishes and the guest list beforehand. Also think about serving his favorite foods, playing his favorite music, and asking a few of his friends and relatives from different walks of life to come ready to speak briefly. That will likely help loosen the lips of others who might want to say a few words. Or if it will be a smallish gathering, the invitation might ask each guest to come with a favorite memory to share.