My wake and funeral should be a maximum of three days, with the second a day of rest with no activities.
After I pass on and everyone says his/her goodbye, take me immediately to the crematorium. No coffin. Use a hospital gurney. Make me wear what I was wearing when I died. No makeup. Just cover me with a white bedsheet up to my neck as if I were asleep. Place a black off-the-shoulder top on top of my remains before cremation, so when I enter heaven I can wear it. Easier to find me.
A priest, preferably the local parish priest, can say Mass or give the last blessing. If no priest is available, a short prayer will do. Anyone can attend.
After the cremation, anyone can bring my urn to his/her home.
This is a day of rest. No activities.
The informal wake is to be held at Blue Leaf, an events place in McKinley Hill. Get a regular-size function room, not a ballroom. Please make sure air-conditioner is working properly. It was hot enough being cremated.
Wake ceremony starts at 4 p.m. No flowers, preferably. This is for friends to come for a sense of closure. Mass starts at 6 p.m. The song to be sung by Romy (Jorolan) if he is available is “What a Wonderful World.” Anyone else can take his place if Romy cannot perform. Please call Carina for another singer. Other songs are welcome if requested by friends or relatives, preferably upbeat, happy songs.
Immediately after Mass, it should be party time, which means flowing alcohol with heavy pica-pica. No buffet. For me, death is a celebration of a new life—so please, no reason for family and friends to cry and be sad.
Larry, please ask Karen, Tetta and Ching to take care of the catering, if no budget is available. Please tell them not to make tipid, ha. The caterers I like are La Tasca or The Plaza. Get alcohol from Ralph. Please tell him this is the last time, of course. Tell him not to make tipid also, ha. Please post as a private message in Facebook on their wall in case one of them is abroad. Tell them I will say special prayers for them in heaven.
Chairs and tables to be supplied by caterer. Plain white table cloth to be used. Just chairs scattered all around with low tables surrounded by cocktail tables. Try to make the place look like a lounge. No huge, round dining tables; it might look like a wedding with no groom.
The setup on the day of the wake will be as follows. Please put my charcoal portrait by Manansala on an easel on the right side of the urn. On the left side will be my colored oil portrait by Ibaya. Please get the sound and light system, microphone for the Mass, white wide screen, DJ and all technical equipment from Carina and Butch.
Tell them I will say a daily novena for them in Yiddish in heaven. Remind them that the lights for the evening must be great. The photos to be flashed on the white screen are on my desktop, in the file “for Mike” in the guest account. Please Photoshop if needed. Make me look young, ha.
Eulogy will be said by Letty, Thelma, Budji, Larry, if they want to.
The text message blasted to relatives and friends for the wake on the day I die, after proper arrangements have been made, should read: This message is from me, Louie Cruz, which I prepared long ago. As per my instructions, my wake is on (date), at (complete address), urn viewing is at 4 p.m., Mass is 6 p.m. sharp, party begins immediately after the Mass.
I believe death is a celebration of a new life. Bring your own bottle to send me off with a blast! Casual attire. This is my last wish. It has been a wonderful world! Thank you to all of you! Love you! See you all in heaven! End of text message.
This text message can be posted on Facebook if needed. Please edit if necessary.
Thank you for implementing these. See you all in heaven!
This is officially signed by Louie Cruz.
Have you chosen your photos for your wake yet? (Have them Photoshopped)
Here’s a checklist of what you should decide on in advance for your funeral
It is the responsibility and duty of every parent and every child of legal age to document his/her answers to the questions below and save them on their desktop, no password required.
This is a comprehensive checklist for your own wake and funeral to spare your loved ones from additional suffering. You should then provide a copy to other members of your family and a close friend.
This may be an unpleasant subject, but we all have to pass that door one day. This is the ultimate expression of love in bidding farewell to your family. They will find great comfort knowing that they have fulfilled your last wish.
First is to make a choice between cremation or non-cremation. If cremation, where would your remains be placed during the wake before cremation—A paid coffin? A rented coffin? What color? Open or closed? If the coffin is paid for, where do you want it donated after cremation?
Which church do you want, if there is a wake? Or will it be in your home? Have you chosen your urn? How many hours or days after death do you want to be cremated? Any crematorium in particular? Who will officiate the ceremony before cremation?
What rituals do you want—Mass? A rosary? A simple prayer? Who do you want to go to the crematorium—family? Friends? No one? Where do you want to be cremated? Particular time? What do you want to wear? Do you want to be holding a rosary, a bible, your favorite chocolate bar, a pack of cigarettes?
Do you agree to viewing while cremation is ongoing? Do you prefer the curtains drawn? Where will guests wait? Do you want food or drinks to be available? Do you want wine or alcohol to be served if allowed?
Who will keep the urn after? Will it be brought home, or will it be immediately brought to the niche? Any prayers to be said by the niche? Should a priest be present? An Imam? A rabbi? A pastor?
The same checklist above applies if the wake is a three-day event with a coffin. There are additional arrangements that have to be made. Who will the pallbearers be? Do you have a memorial plan? Where is the contract stored? Is it fully paid? Any preferred funeral home, if no plan? Church, chapel, your home or an events place?
Who will sing?
How would you like the physical arrangement around your coffin to be? Your oil painting beside your coffin on an easel? A photo? Which photo? Your favorite books? Who will sing during the Mass? What songs? Who will supply the music? What time do you want Mass to be celebrated, and by whom? Will Mass be celebrated daily? Any choice of music or songs during the Mass? Have the Mass prayers photocopied to be distributed.
Who will say the eulogy? How long do you want the eulogy to be? Specify the limited time for each speaker. What do you want to be wearing while lying in state? Ball gown? Blue jeans? Do you want a peso coin in your pocket like Frank Sinatra had a quarter? Or a cigarette? Or weed? Do you want an open coffin? Any particular color of coffin—modern in style? Baroque? Simple wooden box, like a pope?
Do you want makeup to be applied? Any preferred makeup artist? Do you want your life in photos to be flashed on a white screen? Have you chosen the photos already? Have them Photoshopped.
Will you accept flowers? Would you prefer to receive white flowers only? Would you prefer donations to a charity in lieu of flowers? Any favorite florists? What do you want to be done with the extra fresh flowers after the Mass on your funeral day? Do you want to bring them all to the memorial park? Do you want some left for the church? Sent to a hospital to cheer up the sick?
What will they do with the Mass cards after? Keep or donate to be recycled? Do you want to reveal your age on the obituary board? What do you want your newspaper obituary to say? How big will it be?
What should the text message be if it is sent immediately after your death? Compose it.
Food, umbrellas, tents
Who will do the catering? Any particular food? Do you prefer round tables for 10? What color for tablecloth?
There are also other arrangements to be made after the Mass. Will police escorts be needed for the funeral cortege going to the memorial park? Do cars have to be numbered for the convoy? Have umbrellas ready in case it rains.
How big a tent is needed at the memorial park? Will snacks be served? Is a nurse needed for the elderly? Will a priest join? What rituals? Which member of the family will give the final signal for your coffin to be closed? Do you want balloons before being laid to rest, or after being laid to rest? What color?
What do you want it to say in your tombstone? Some gravestones and niches have a photo of the deceased attached. Choose the photo if you desire. If no final resting place exists, choose one. Have you chosen the material for your grave? Marble? Plain cement? Should it be painted white?
Put to sleep
And what about your pets? Your loyal dog? A dying bachelor friend gave instructions to his family that when he croaks, his dog should be put to sleep. This may sound selfish, but he said that his dog will be forever in misery without him. Another terminally ill man gave instructions to his family never to separate his six dogs. The family did exactly the opposite. Now they claim they hear strange noises. I guess he has not rested in peace.
For those with illegitimate children or life partners, kept secret until your demise, do you want them to attend any of the above? Write down their names and companions. What days can they go? Which shift do they take during the wake? Can they attend the cremation? Have this information kept sealed in an envelope by a lawyer or a best friend, with the instructions that it be opened strictly upon your death in front of your partner and family.
To avoid the ire of your legal partner, here’s a suggestion. Write a personal letter for your partner to be shared by the family to cushion the surprise and rage.
Till death do us part
Now, for those who have been officially or unofficially physically separated for many years and living with another partner, with the relationship publicly and socially acknowledged, although the union was never accepted or condoned by the legal partner and members of the family, since divorce is not legal and no annulment has been granted, leave your instructions with your lawyer and also with your partner’s lawyer.
Describe the physical arrangements during the ceremonies. Does the legal wife occupy all the pews on the right while the live-in partner occupies all the left pews when facing the remains? Who will have the legal rights to your remains? Who decides on the final arrangements? Who has priority? Who will shoulder the expenses? Who should be included in the obituary? Better write down your own obituary to avoid confusion.
For your ninth and 40th day celebration, go over the above checklist.
The letter should begin with, “This is my last wish when I die.” Then end it with, “This is considered signed officially by” put your full name.
You will breathe a big sigh of relief knowing that you have finally accomplished this in preparation for a reality that one day will happen. Most of all, you have spared all your loved ones additional pain.
Here’s wishing each of us a happy journey! Louie Cruz