A reader emailed me about an urgent matter involving her very recently passed father.

The woman had been the caregiver to both her parents for many years. She had cashed out all of her retirement in order to care for them. She still had to help her surviving mom. The reason she wrote to me was to see if I had any suggestions on how to pay for her dad’s burial as it was his wish to be buried rather than cremated.

It concerned me that she wanted to try to fund a burial when she had no money, though I understood her motivation.

I do understand the overwhelming desire to honor your loved one’s wishes after they pass away.

It feels like an imperative to carry out those wishes. It has been assigned to you. It is the last thing you must do for someone before you lose the ability to do any for them again.  When my father died suddenly from a massive heart attack, I was caught off guard. He and I had had a strained relationship but had mended it before he died. I felt this tremendous desire to represent him when he died. I wanted the gathering after his memorial to be generous. I wanted his house to look great when we sold it; I didn’t want anyone to think he hadn’t been able to take care of it. I spent hours over the next 18 months after his death repairing and fixing up his home to sell. I truly do relate to the motivation this woman felt to bury her father. The fact is, burial is an expensive way to handle a deceased body. Even if you don’t opt for the fancy casket and luxurious interior lining, burials cost thousands of dollars. She did not have the funds.

I suggested she give cremation some thought. I told her that her father could see her from a different perspective now that he had crossed over.

He could see how much she had sacrificed her life and her financial well being and secure future to take care of him.

He could see how much she loved him and he is grateful to her. She had gone above and beyond what any parent would ask of their child. I do not believe he would want her to now go into deeper debt to bury a body he no longer needed. I told her that if she could make peace with cremating his remains, I believe he would approve because I don’t think he would care how his former body was disposed of. His religious customs are not the same importance to him now. But if cremation were going to cause her anguish, I would not recommend it because she would have to live with her choice. Only she could decide how the decision would affect her.

Ultimately, the woman wrote again to tell me that she had found a way to fund his burial. It was so important to her and her mother to see him buried. I am happy for her that she was able to fulfill her father’s wishes. When I was able to make my father’s home look beautiful, I felt proud.

But if we are honest with ourselves, while we carry out final wishes on behalf of deceased loved ones, we are really doing it for ourselves.

Completing the assignment makes us feel better; the person who has died isn’t caught up with the demands of this life anymore especially if it is a burden to the loved ones they left behind. We all have a belief system while we reside on this planet. For some it is a religion, for some it is atheism, for others it is superstitions. These beliefs define our personalities and serve us while we live on the Earth. But when we cross over, the rules no longer apply. We no longer have the body we left behind; all of the tenants we agreed to follow here no longer matter there. Those of us who are still here should not hurt ourselves to meet needs that no longer exist.

Please share this post if you know someone who would like it. If you have any questions about caregiving, please write to me.


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