Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 10.27.53 PMI always tell the amazing fun funeral planners in my workshops that writing down what you want is essential. I even mention it to strangers sitting at a bar if we happen to get on the topic. Which if you’re me, is not a rare event. Chalk one up for my life, I know you’re jealous. But if you have preferences for your last wishes, if you’re making decisions or have a vision—rip-roaring good time or quiet and peaceful, putting it in writing is non-negotiable.

And here, embarrassingly enough, is a perfect example why.

My own mother told me what she wants and I forgot.

Hello? Major key elements here: My mother. My business/mission/raison d’etre. *I*m the one who’s supposed to know about these things, care about these things… presumably, able to remember these things.

I forgot what she’d said, plain and simple.

And the conversation wasn’t eighteen years ago; it was a couple of months ago. I don’t even remember how we got on the topic, because she’s not a fan and we seldom talk end-of-life. But she did mention that she changed her mind about the cemetery plots she bought — she doesn’t want her ashes buried afterall, she wants them spread. And to include Dad’s from their current home on her dresser. And not in the water, but scattered in the air somewhere. Off Mount Everest was her example. I hope it was just an example. I do remember being surprised, because this was all new for her.

But I didn’t remember the details. She mentioned it just this week again and despite not having Alzheimer’s, it all felt like news to me. Once she reminded me specifically of the conversation, my memory of it returned, but again… AND HERE IS MY POINT!!!!NOT the exact details of what she’d said. NOT the part I was supposed to remember.

So here is the deal, people. Our heads are way full of useful and useless information, we are all on data overload, multitasking addiction, backlogs of To Do Lists not even started yet, and on top of it all we are sleep-deprived.

We don’t have a folder in there for Other People’s Funeral Wishes That They’ve Mentioned in Passing for Sometime Way Way Way in the Future. Though someday that “Sometime” will be now and we will wish we had a clue. Whether we have an accurate memory, a vague recollection, or a total failure to remember, having clear, indisputable words on paper, in someone’s own handwriting, of what they want is a saving grace and a gift.

• We don’t want to bury someone who wanted to be cremated.
• We don’t want to have an open casket for someone who despised the thought.
• We don’t want to neglect donating organs if that person really wanted that.
In short, we want to fulfill someone’s last wishes for them. We want to do the right thing.

So be a little proactive and a little organized—write down what you want, write down what you hear your loved ones saying they want, and encourage them to write it down, too. Or better yet, email me at and let’s get your entire plans down on paper so there’s no messing things up.

And I’ll confirm with Mama that she didn’t  mean Mount Everest, just so I can sleep at night. I would go to the ends of the Earth for someone’s last wishes, but I’d hate to die myself in the process. That just seems silly.