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What Is Your Motivation – Making Funeral Arrangements Out Of Love And Not Fear

What is motivation?  Motivation is used to describe WHY someone does something. Of course, there are a mountain of studies and theories, but simply stated, there are many different forces that guide and direct us.  If you look towards literature and the arts, you can simplify it even further.  From the bible to John Lennon, it appears as if “there are two basic motivating forces: fear and love.”

Let’s put this into perspective and think about weight loss.  Many people start their weight loss journey at their doctor or loved one’s urging to cure or improve a medical condition, thus potentially saving their life.  They are motivated by fear – fear of dying, fear of winding up in the hospital, fear of something that only loosing weight will solve.  However, once they reach their weight loss goal or receive a clean bill of health from their doctor, their motivation to lose weight and stay healthy is removed and many times, they revert to their unhealthy habits and regain the weight.  What has been found is that although fear can be an excellent motivator, especially following a life-threatening event, it is too uncomfortable and emotionally draining for us to stay in that mindset for very long.

In other words, fear is not sustainable.

But what happens when, while during their weight loss journey, people discover things that they love? Perhaps they can run and play with their kids without gasping for breath or without pain.  Perhaps their skin clears up.  Perhaps they like how they look in the mirror. What happens when they fall in love with the results of their weight loss and improved health?  When people replace their fear driven motivation with love driven motivation, then they are better able to sustain their weight loss and health.

In my role as a funeral director, I have seen a world of difference when someone makes funeral arrangements out of love rather than fear.  Typically, those who are motivated by love plan in advance, include their family or even their friends in their decisions, and think globally instead of selfishly.  On the other hand, I have seen those motivated by fear regret their decisions or make decisions based on prior negative experiences without understanding that funerals have changed and that their loved ones need some sort of ritual to build that positive foundation for grief.

So how can you approach death with love? At its simplest, by being prepared.  By writing down your wishes.  By securing payment for your funeral by purchasing life insurance, prepaying your funeral, or setting aside assets designated for funeral expenses.

You can also approach death with love by understanding that you do not know what you do not know and seeking out knowledge to make informed decisions. Knowledge is power and sharing knowledge is empowering. Did you know that in the state of Texas you can be buried within 24 hours, but it can take 2-10 days to have the legal authority to perform a cremation?  Or that some cemeteries will allow you to be buried without a casket? Or that a power of attorney expires upon death so if you do not have an authorized agent of disposition and your spouse has dementia or your biological children do not get along that your disposition might be determined in court? Or that you can have a meaningful service that does not include a church or a funeral home or a major expense?  Or that cremated remains can be made into bullets, tattoos, jewelry, coral reefs, paintings, or go into outer space?  Incomplete information creates false expectations and negative experiences.  Understanding the ins and outs of what happens when someone dies will enable and empower you to make the right decisions at the right time.

Finally, you can also approach death with love by being creative in ones preplanning approach and utilizing me as a resource and guide in helping you plan your final moments with love, so that your loved ones won’t have too.

So, what is your motivation?  When it comes losing weight, finding a new job, getting married, having a medical procedure, or even planning for life’s eventualities – what is motivating you to make the choices you made or are about to make?  Without motivation you simply cannot achieve anything.  The next time you admire someone’s accomplishment, including your own, it makes more sense to ask WHY they did what they did instead of HOW because, when the why is clear, the how is easy.

Modified from a speech given by Jessamyn Putnam at the Women Empowering Women event at the Vineyard B&B at Lost Creek Ranch on November 5, 2019.  Copyright 2019 Jessamyn Putnam.

Jessamyn Putnam at the Women Empowering Women event, pictured bottom row, second from the right.

What is Your Testament?

by Guest Blogger Chris Putnam

I awoke this morning to complete at least twenty-five tasks before passing out this evening fully exhausted. Somewhere I will fit in a passing kiss for my wife and try to graze my kids with a peck on the forehead or a sideways hug before sending them to the shower and finally to bed. The routine will end after a few reminders and maybe even a few threats to get them to sleep. To credit my wife and I, we do read to our three-year-old before the battle begins to get him asleep every night.

Many of the people reading this blog know I am a funeral director and many have sat with me describing a loved one who recently died. Over the last couple decades, I have heard “he was a hard worker” or “she was dedicated to her job or civic organization” countless times. When I follow up with a second question about hobbies or experiences of which the individual was proud, I am met with a “it was always about work” or “he/she did not fish, travel, hunt, read, etc.” Nothing! Loved ones cannot think of anything except how serious non-family commitments were prioritized over internal family commitments.

The prompt to write this blog post is inspired by two women in different situations. Top Chef contestant and star Fatima Ali announced this week she only has a year to live with or without new chemotherapy treatment. Ali, 29, recently wrote “I was looking forward to being 30, flirty and thriving. Guess I have to step it up on the flirting. I have no time to lose.” She continues by describing a desperate need to “overload my senses in the coming months, … and smothering my family, giving them the time that I so selfishly guarded before.”

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations announced Nikki Haley her resignation this week.  She offered no reason for the life change other than the perspective that government officials must know “when it’s time to step aside.” Clues to her future are known only by her, but she told President Trump about six months ago she wanted to take a break. Haley referred to herself in the Oval Office resignation interview as “a private citizen.”

One can only speculation how long Haley’s break will last, as the political door remains open. My wish for Haley is to live like she is dying without the dying part. To “overload her senses” as Ali described. My hope for Ali is a treatment or miracle will happen and this all turns out to be a lesson on life perspectives and what is truly important.

Both women are teachers coaching us on how to use time.  What will they say about you? What is your testament? The regret of being self-absorbed and selfish with time is short-lived only when an end of time is in sight.  However, being generous with time and living for yourself, friends, and loved ones is a gift that is priceless.  Maybe a description I hear about you is “he knew when it was time to step aside” or “she was flirty and thriving when 30 and overloaded her senses with every breath.”

©2018 Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory, LLC