Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's A Lot of Decisions

With a Little Help from My Friends

The visitation is tomorrow evening. To get to this point I've had to make a lot of decisions. Let me walk you through the decisions I've had to make. Luckily, I've had the help of a number of caring friends who have been with me all along.

The first big decision was:
  • The Funeral Home
After Trudie died Thursday night, we had to decide on who was to pick up her body or they would have sent it to the county morgue that night. So we didn't have much time to investigate many options. The decision I made was based more upon convenient location to me than anything else.

I had asked a friend to investigate various funeral home options - thinking that we had weeks before the end. Unfortunately, the suddenness of Trudie's death caught the friend before they really had a chance to pursue many options. Luckily, our church has dealt with a number of funeral homes and had a couple of options that they suggested. We chose Roswell Funeral Home.

When I say "we" what I mean is that I decided with the help of some very close friends who flew to my side that night. They were there at the hospice in less than an hour after I called them. They have been my other half-of-a-brain through out these days.

Meetings, meetings, meetings

The next day I had to make many more decisions. The first was:
  • The overall structure of the process
We decided on the night-before visitation/viewing and next-day funeral setup. I felt that the most people could be able to say goodbye to Trudie with this. The next decision was:
  • Where to hold the visitation/viewing & the funeral
We decided that the v/v could be at the funeral home and the funeral it self could be at our church. Then the next big decision was:
  • When to hold the visitation/viewing & the funeral
We had to coordinate with the funeral home and the church but that helped decide the dates. We also wanted to be sensitive to those who would be wanting to come from out of town.
  • Funeral Home services, casket, and grave liner/vault
These were the next decisions and the most expensive. I mean really BIG BUCKS here! I didn't ask if pre-purchasing could have saved us any money but it was definitely sticker-shock to see what such services cost.
  • What Song Style
The song style determined what and how many musicians needed to be lined up. This decision, too, needed to be made early. Luckily, Avery knew what were Trudie's favorite hymns and I like them too. So we went with a keyboard player / group singing leader.
  • Minister
Rev. Dr. Robert Culver (AKA "Uncle" Bob) had married Trudie and me little more than 16 years ago on a chilly morning in the Smokie Mountains. He has remained a dear and precious family friend. He graciously agreed to conduct the service where we are saying our goodbyes to Trudie. Uncle Bob is the head of a ministry to international students and scholars - read all about it at
  • Pallbearers
I needed to decide and ask guys who would be representatives of all areas of Trudie's circles of influence. I am appreciative of the guys who have answered my call for service.
  • Order of Service
This was a biggie and a tough one. Uncle Bob had a template for an order of service that he typically uses. Filling in the blanks of the template was daunting. I had to decide what hymns to sing when, ask various people to do various parts, etc.

All in all it has been a lot of work. Like I've said, I have been operating on only half-of-a-brain for at least a couple of months. Now I have even fewer brain "noodles" on-line. So my good friends that have been with me have been invaluable to me. They offered awesome advice and help during this time. I thank you every one.

Help your Heirs

Trudie and I had discussed some of the above details but not much. Most of what I have had to decide were S.W.A.G.s. My friends and I made the best guesses we could on most of the things we had to decide.

Do your heirs a favor - talk about these issues. We will all someday be as Trudie is now - dead. How can you help, today, those left behind? There are lots of questions I still didn't get around to asking Trudie. I can't ask now. You have time now to investigate these issues and to discuss these issues with your loved ones especially your spouse. Just say, "Sweetie, with Trudie's passing it has got me thinking about my own passing..." It will be hard; it will take courage; it probably won't be fun. And your spouse will love you more for initiating it.

By the way, you do have a will don't you?


patrckb said...

Oh yea, and I forgot:

Grave Marker

A not-cheap item too.

Anonymous said...

Patrick-- I was unsure whether to write you at the gmail account address or here; so, I sent it via email, and I'm copying it here, just in case...


Rachel Freedman (now Lemansky) here... My father, Jay, forwarded your email to me, letting me know of Trudie's passing. I am so very sorry; I didn't even realize she had been so ill. I've known Trudie for 22 years now, and I treasure the memories. She always made me feel as if I were special, and she went so out of her way to make me my own personalized dolls. I adored her. She was a truly lovely woman, and she will be missed. Please accept my condolences. You are in my prayers.

If you could, I'd appreciate it if you could forward me your mailing address? I'd very much like to send you and your family a personal note. Thank you so very much.

May you find strength in your memories....

Best, Rachel Lemansky (formerly Freedman) of Warner Robins, GA

Unknown said...

Dear Patrick,
You probably don't remember me so I'll try to refresh your memory a bit. I am a former member of Stone Mtn. COG and am Heather Robinson's sister, Dawn. I have been reading your blogs and have been moved to tears on many occassions. I've always had a tremendous respect and admiration for Trudie. She was her own person and was truly beautiful inside and out. I loved her smile, her quick wit and her uniqueness... there will never be another Trudie!!! I have also admired the way you have dealt with this process, you are to be commended for the love, patience and joy you gave to Trudie. I am sorry to hear of your loss but am comforted in knowing that she along with my father, Larry Robinson are no longer in pain. Please know you and your family are in my thoughts and more importantly my prayers. I pray for God's comfort and peace as you go through this difficult loss.
Love and prayers, Dawn Robinson