How to Interpret “Just Put Me in a Pine Box!”

This article was written by Samantha Overbaugh, on July 13, 2022

cartoon of two people talking


“Just put me in a pine box!” “Don’t waste all your money on a big fancy funeral for me!” Maybe one of these phrases rings a bell. Have you ever had a conversation with one of your parents, a loved one, or a client regarding their funeral arrangements? How do you manage their requests when you disagree? How do you read between the lines to decipher what they really want?

When people use the phrases above, they often mean they do not want a formal, extravagant funeral, but instead they want a funeral that feels like them. As we commemorate July 18th, World Listening Day, we would like to place emphasis on what YOU can do to be a better listener when it comes to making funeral arrangements.

Bernard M. Baruch said, “Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” 

The best way to seek clarity is to follow-up with questions. When you hear, “Just put me in a pine box!” Respond with, “What would be the best way to celebrate your life?” “Have you considered renting a casket for the funeral?” “How can we make your funeral feel like yours?”

Customize the Elements

Funerals often follow a formula, but that doesn’t mean the formula is set in stone. Perhaps in the announcement details you could add something such as, “jeans required!” Whether ACDC is the music playing or BBQ food is served following the memorial service, you can customize the funeral services to reflect the loved one you’re celebrating. A co-worker of mine had a grandmother pass away that was known as the “purple grandma” because — you guessed it– she loved the color purple. She had even dyed her hair purple! At the funeral, they only used purple flowers and asked everyone to wear purple in her honor. These are simple requests that go a long way in embodying the individual.

Tips for Success

To conclude, we would like to leave you with some tactics and steps to help you have conversations with your loved ones or clients about their final arrangements:

  1. Make sure the time is right to discuss the matter. If you, your family member, or client are overly tired or stressed out it may be wise to wait.
  2. Take it slow. Assure them that not everything needs to be set in stone right this moment. These decisions do not need to be made in an hour!
  3. Ask Questions! Only through truly listening will you be able to find out exactly what details to their funeral arrangements will appeal to them the most. Listen carefully, and follow-up instead of making assumptions.

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