At the end of July, I had a chance meeting with Leanne of Blooms & Balloons, the florist in Lorette. I was in the area and decided to drop in and see their new location. After talking briefly about each other’s businesses, she happened to mention she does personalized flower arrangements for funerals.

Of course I asked her what she meant by this. So she showed me some pictures of flower arrangements she had done: they included some items of the person. One example was of a Tractor in the middle of the yellow and green flower arrangement and explained how big the flower arrangement was. I was impressed and so we got to talking about funerals a bit more.

She explained that when the family comes in to order flowers for the funeral, she will bring out the “catalogue” of standard flower arrangements, but will also say “tell me about the person”. By getting to know what their interests or hobbies were, or what they did for a living, she can make some suggestions about what can be included in the flower arrangement. Customers will either bring in some items to be included, or she will pick up some things.

This service she provides families is the kind of service I have been thinking about for a few years. One’s funeral should reflect the person and his or her personality.

I’ve been to too many funerals in the past few years: some friends of the family; some clients.

When I leave a funeral or memorial service, I think about whether it reflected the person (as little as I may have known the person). I judge the service by how many times I laugh or cry, thinking about the person.

There have been many good services. Ones that I leave thinking it was a great tribute to the person I had the pleasure of knowing.

But there have been a few that I left wondering if the service was as the person had intended. These are the ones that really bother me and have got me thinking about funeral planning.

Why don’t more people do some planning ahead of time?

I know we hate to admit that we do all die. It may be because families don’t want to discuss it (adult children don’t want to hear about it from their parents.) But I think also, we don’t know where to start and who to talk to.

Yes, funeral directors can help you plan your funeral, but why do so many people not do so?

About 15 years ago my father-in-law passed away. I was out of the province at the time of his passing, but came home in time for the funeral service. I don’t think it reflected this man that I knew. The family had to plan everything at a very emotional time in a short time frame. They did not have a neutral third party individual to attend the funeral home with them to be their “advocate”. They went along with what was suggested by the funeral director.

Ten years later, my mother-in-law passed away. I was able to attend the funeral home with the family and be the unemotional advocate. We had a wonderful memorial service not at the funeral home. Yes, I gave the eulogy and I’m biased, but it truly reflected who she was. I made people laugh at some of the things she did or said. And the tributes done by others also made us cry. And it was not expensive. It doesn’t have to be.

I have some clients that are very prepared. They have their obituaries written. They have instructions as to who should be speaking at the service. The readings and music they would like. He has even made their own urns (he’s a wood worker).

So next time you are at a funeral or memorial service, think about what you liked about it and what you thought should be better.

Then start putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and start making some notes about how you would like your own funeral to be.

I will soon be adding “funeral planning consultant” to my list of services and look forward to helping people plan the most important final event they can control and plan.

If you want to discuss your own plan with me, please give me a call!

Anni Markmann is a Certified Financial Planner and a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging. You can reach her at or 422-6631.