The Dark Side of Sod


"It's my funeral and I'll serve ice cream if I want!"

May 5, 2019

John had a neighborhood ice cream truck business where he served cool treats to families for years. He was a great guy, everybody loved him, and over time his business expanded to the point where he became successful, had a good life, and eventually retired. But, he never got rid of the ice cream truck that blessed him with so many wonderful memories. He died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 85.

Although John's family was saddened by his passing, they were relieved that prior to his death they  talked with him at great length about what his wishes were regarding his "send off" as he called it. The details of his life tribute were carefully outlined and John insisted on writing his own obituary. The only part of his arrangements left undone was putting the death date on his tombstone at the cemetery which he thought was humorous. He'd say, "you mean I have to die first?"

John always marched to the beat of a different drummer and his funeral was no exception. He wanted to leave a legacy where everyone understood how much he appreciated his life and loved his family. He did not want his surviving family and friends to dwell on his passing, but celebrate the memories and experiences they had with him. Upon his death, the family gathered at the funeral home to put John's plan in motion.

Incidentally, John also wrote his own eulogy which was read by his son who also told some of John's favorite knock knock jokes. His grandchildren wrote and read precious letters to their grandfather, and placed them in his casket, along with his ice cream scoop. John had previously set aside his favorite team sweatshirt, a pair of Jeans , and his undergarments so the family would not have to make those decisions at a difficult time.

John's grandchildren served as pall bearers and Frank Sinatra's song "That's Life" played as the casket was being loaded in to the funeral coach.

John was buried in a family plot next to his parents and wife. It seemed only fitting to him that the ice cream truck he kept all those years would lead the procession to the cemetery after the service. Once the procession arrived at the cemetery,  the minister closed the service, and everyone was given an ice cream cone.

An invitation was then extended to join John's family in the community park to share stories and partake in John's favorite food, hamburgers on the grill to symbolize that life goes on.

In many ways, John orchestrated his celebration from the grave. Why not? People still talk about how special it was.

John's plan may not be what appeals to some, the point is this; having meaningful conversations with our family about what to do "when" makes all the difference in how survivors of death process their grief. Being able to concentrate on life and the loss of our loved ones vs belaboring the details of funeral planning at a difficult time is ALWAYS best and should be a common goal. Why wait and second guess any snap decisions made? Control what you can.

Something to think about.


Julie Pope