One of the challenges with funerals is nobody likes them and a lot of people skip them as a point of principle.
By using a mixture of coercion and incentives, we did a great job of changing that with my grandmother’s memorial. Here’s what we did.
All descendants were hosted by the deceased’s estate. We stayed at the same hotel and every adult descendent was invited to bring a friend or partner.
We spread the memorial over three days.
Day one was a family dinner at a private room at an informal restaurant.
Day two (fell on Fathers Day), we did a Dads, kids and teenagers trip to Grouse Mountain. I ran up the Grouse Grind, the rest of the crew took the gondola and we visited the two Grizzlies bears on top. For days we told the kids that we would go on a ‘Bear Hunt.’ They loved it.
As a bonus, we watched the lumberjack show, which mesmerized everyone 4 yrs and up. Bella won a souvenir chair that they chainsaw’ed up as part of the show. On the way home, I managed to get the chair through the US agriculture inspection. A great souvenir for the kids and Monsy.
Day two dinner was adults and teens at a local steakhouse.
Day three was the memorial, with reception. Three speakers at the memorial about 35 minutes long. If I get a chance then I’ll probably cut a video for my own, Andy Kaufman style.
A few of us stayed extra days to sort estate admin and visit. I took Lex, my oldest, to where my great grandmother and grandmother’s ashes were dropped, a beautiful location.
We scheduled the memorial weekend for six weeks after my grandmother’s death. This let her kids recover emotionally and ensured the greatest attendance, with the least amount of disruption to everyone’s lives.
I told Monica that this was a dry run for my own memorial. If mine goes this smoothly then it will be a great event for the family.
We told everyone that all events were optional. This is my approach to everything family related, and reduces feelings of obligation/resentment.
We had a single family member organize all logistics and sort payment. This is particularly appreciated by people close to the deceased, who are often overwhelmed immediately after death.