Due to financial reasons, the majority of my family (by that I mean my mom and 8 aunts & uncles) decided to have my grandmother cremated. There would be a Mass, then a small service, and then we would have whatever plans afterward. There would be no viewing, no casket, no plot, and of course no headstone. I've become the consigliere regarding Canon Law and the proper Catholic way to do things.
Earlier today there was discussion of changing the cremation to a full funeral with burial. Two of my uncles said they would pay a large portion themselves while allowing the rest to only pay a small part. A debate quickly ensued about who was responsible for how much, who had already made large contributions towards my grandmother's care, and what was best. Initially the question was simply about money.
As I listened to them talk and squabble, I surprised them by offering to pay the unpaid amount:
"If the remaining balance is only $1900, I have that in my account. I'll gladly pay for it, but is it what all of you want?"
I was given several looks, the grandson willing to pony up for his grandma's funeral, before I was told to keep my money, because I needed it. I told them that if they felt a funeral would make the difference, if that is what would bring full closure, then go for it. But if that's not what Grandma would want, people spending lots of money on her, then why go through the extra hassle?
I've spoken with the family regarding Catholics and cremation, and they know what needs to be done. My hope is that they focus not just on ceremonies, but on their love for their mother and their desire for her spirit to be with God in Heaven.
As Samuel L. Jackson said: "I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd."