Planning our own Memorial Service

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune

Planning our own Memorial Service

By Maramis

As you can all imagine, memorial services are for the departed, but usually for those we really want to remember and memorialize, those we love and those whom we want others to remember in their own way. And while those who may have lovely things to say about the deceased, the deceased will never hear them. At least not in any kind of physical way.

Did it ever occur to anyone to throw a going-away party for themselves? Yes, to plan and throw a party for all the people that might be expected to show up for their own post-death memorial service. They could invite the people and plan every detail that would make them happy. They would get to hear all the things that people would have said later on down the road if they didn’t get to hear them at their own pre-planned party.

Imagine having all your friends — and maybe even some you might have not thought were your friends — show up and tell you what you meant to them over the years. Imagine hearing those things now, while you’re still alive and can hear them and appreciate them.

So how would you plan it?

First, of course, one would have to draw up the list of those you want to come to your party. That done, you would create the message for the invitations. Maybe something like:

You are invited to a very special party that can only be called an advance memorial service. Please take this seriously and don’t just toss the invitation away. We will all die someday, and I decided that I’d like to have my memorial service now, while I’m still here to be part of it, and I’d really like you to consider showing up for it even if it means that you consider this my actual post-death memorial service. If I could have only one, I’d like it to be this one since I cannot be physically present at the other one.

Most people do not die at a convenient time for those who wish to show up for their funeral service. Maybe that’s why so many services are put off till it’s more convenient for people to show up. And more and more we’re seeing that people are holding memorial services instead of funeral services, possibly because funerals are becoming outrageously expensive and cremations are becoming more commonplace.

You will likely not get a personal invitation to my post-death memorial service. I would dare say that most people never receive one like this. So I am requesting that you please show up to make my last wish on earth come true.

Details about the time and place are listed below. Please call to let me know you’ll be coming. If you cannot call, a text would be acceptable, or even an email. Obviously, no gifts are expected or desired, just your presence. Thank you.

Be sure to choose serious-looking invitations and have them made up at a printer to avoid overworking your hands by writing them all out longhand and to give them a more attention-getting look that will likely cause more to reply in the affirmative.

The next thing on the agenda is to address and stamp the envelopes and decide on what day to mail them. Allow plenty of time for the replies to come in.

Planning the party will be the fun part of it. The venue where you hold it will help guide you in your plans since the space matters regarding availability and adequate accommodations for the number of expected people. Make your reservations early with a deposit.

Jot down all your favorite songs or music and start getting it all collected. Collect memories from all the out-of-town folks who couldn’t possibly take advantage of your invitation. Collect all your favorite photos and have them mounted on a large poster, with captions. Consider having live music by hiring a band or a small orchestra or even a single musician to lend that special atmosphere.

Spend some time picturing how you want it to be. Since you’re not planning to have your service right away, save up for it. And maybe you can even recruit someone to help you. If you’ve ever been to any memorial services, try to remember what you especially liked about them — and likewise, if there was anything you would have wished was done differently, do it differently yourself.

Once you get into the planning, ideas will come to you and you’ll be moving right along.

You’ll also want to pick out your favorite outfit with an eye toward showing up in some photo-ops. And while you’re thinking about that, consider the hairstyle of your choice for this special occasion and make your appointment well in advance.

As you’re finally through thinking of everything you want and making all your arrangements, mail the invitations and go make yourself a cup of tea.

This is not for everyone, of course, but for those who see the value in this kind of party we hope you have a wonderful time. And if you happen to be at any memorial services in the near future, you might want to make some mental notes for when you start planning your own.

One last thought: just in case you live a lot longer than you anticipated, don’t feel guilty. Others will just be “jealous” of you, but you will still have had it your way.

Death comes to us all. We know one day it will be our turn. Consider being part of your own memorial service — and have it your way!

* * * * *

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at

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