Attending your Own Funeral

Listen to this obituary

I recently retired from preaching after forty-three years. My church family as well as friends outside the local church were nice enough to come together for a reception in my (our) honor. I was greatly humbled by the attention and I remarked, “This is kinda like getting to attend your own funeral!” I will never again underestimate the importance of attending funerals and retirement and wedding and anniversary receptions. A lot of thought and preparation went into this occasion, and my wife and I felt blessed.

In 1988, my dad and mom preplanned and prepaid their own funerals.  Dad died a short time later and mom died seven years and a day after he did. I was grateful for my dad’s thoughtful decision thirty-two years ago and later mother developed Alzheimer’s and so I was doubly glad she had expressed her wishes in like manner as my dad. However, this was the first time I had ever encountered someone who had the fortitude and foresight to so preplan.

On August 13, 2015 I wrote out my own obituary and wrote down who I wanted to officiate at my memorial service. I chose the music and asked that the entire service be upbeat and last about 30 minutes. Four months later I had brain surgery for a benign brain tumor that was pressing on my facial nerve. But I went into that surgery in a much better frame of mind knowing that I had blessed my family with an updated will and written funeral arrangements as I felt my parents had blessed us.

The question is “Why had I waited twenty-seven years to write down my final wishes IF I claimed such a selfless deed was a blessing to me and my siblings?”

The excuses I offered for failing to act were the usual ones. #1 = “I need to think about it.” #2 = “I’ll have to talk to my kids.” (I was sixty-one years old in 2015.) From 1988 until 2015 I had been saying, #3 = “I’m young and in good health.”

In Genesis 50:1-7, we learn that Jacob had requested of Joseph that he be buried in a certain place in the Promised Land. This is preplanning.              Genesis 50:12-13 (KJV) = And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them: 13  For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a burying place.

You may remember that Joseph later followed his father’s example and preplanned his own funeral.

I followed my father’s example and have preplanned mine. It has brought peace of mind to me and has been therapeutic as well.

And you?

Picture of Doug Greenway

Doug Greenway

These blog articles are written by the retired minister and former educator and counselor, Doug Greenway. He'd love to hear from you with your comments, questions, or suggestions for future topics. You may reach Doug at

2 thoughts on “Attending your Own Funeral”

  1. I didn’t realize you had already retired, I was thinking it was supposed to be in August. Enjoyed your article, just keep on keeping on with them. You and Ms. Vickie enjoy your retirement. I am sorry I didn’t follow up getting in contact with you regarding Jerry’s services , he always said he wanted you. Maybe I just didn’t try hard enough. I will always blame myself for not following his wishes. God Bless and love you.🙏❤️

  2. I preplanned mine after my cancer diagnosis 20 months ago. I put it on a monthly plan to pay for it and paid it off this month. It is a relief to know I have that done and my family won’t be bothered with it at the time. Besides I wanted to be able to pick out the casket, music, and participants – controlling to the end!


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