Funeral Industry News Grief Preplanning

A Gift from Beyond the Grave: 7 Moving Examples

April 6, 2014

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A Gift from Beyond the Grave: 7 Moving Examples

Article is from ASD – Answering Service for Directors,

Funeral professionals often counsel families on the benefits of pre-planning their final arrangements. When someone is close to passing, it is common for everyone involved to feel a strong lack of control. Pre-arranging funeral wishes can provide those suffering from a terminal illness with a much-needed outlet. It allows the dying to leave behind a final gift by ensuring their loved ones are not left with any questions or uncertainties about what should take place after the death occurs.

For some, leaving a final gift for loved ones may extend beyond setting up funeral plans in advance. A terminal illness is a terrible tragedy to befall anyone, but as any funeral director will tell you, there is often light in even the darkest places. We have found some incredible examples of people who made arrangements to send love and comfort to their families from beyond the grave. They looked ahead at the future and at the world without them, beyond the date of their own funeral service, so they could leave behind a lasting message to loved ones.

Here are 7 examples.

Wife Sends Loving Message to Husband 2 Years After Her Passing

When Brenda Schmitz learned she was going to lose her fight against ovarian cancer, her main concern was ensuring that her husband, David Schmitz, would be able to find happiness after her passing. Brenda wanted to make sure David knew she wanted him to find love again, so a month before her passing she wrote a letter and gave it to a friend to hold on to until the right time came. After several years, David fell in love and got engaged. The letter was given to a local Iowa radio station that grants Christmas wishes. David was brought into the station so the letter could be read aloud to him on the air. In it, Brenda expressed her joy over David finding a new life partner and even included a special message to his new love.

“I have a wish. I have a wish for David, the boys, and the woman and her family if she has kids also,” Brenda wrote. “I want them to know I love them very much.”

The letter went on to include Brenda’s three wishes: a special spa day for David’s new partner, recognition for the hospital workers who took care of her, and a memorable vacation for the family. Local businesses and community groups stepped in to ensure Brenda’s wishes were granted.

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Terminally Ill Father Records Heartfelt Video To Daughter

You hear a lot these days about how technology makes people less connected, but in many applications it can do just the opposite. Technology can make it possible for a little girl growing up without a father to see her dad and hear his voice anytime she needs. That was the gift that 27-year-old Nick Magnotti, left behind for his baby daughter before he passed away from Appendix Cancer. In an incredibly moving 6-minute video, David talks about some of the lessons he learned during his life and from his diagnosis. He expresses his gratitude to his daughter for bringing so much light into his life during the short time he knew her, a moving tribute that will no doubt be cherished by the family for all of their lives.

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A Love that Never Wilted

We’ve all heard the story. A wife is devastated after the loss of her husband and when Valentines Day rolls around she is especially sad. Then a flower deliveryman shows up with a bouquet of roses and a note from her late husband. At first, the woman assumes this is a sick joke until she calls the flower shop and is told her husband prepaid to send Valentines Day roses to his wife every day even after his passing. The story is actually a fictional poem called “Roses for Rose” by James Kisner, but it bears a striking resemblance to a real-life event. After Radio entertainer and television personality, Jack Benny, passed away, his widow received a rose delivered to her home every single day. Jack’s undying love and devotion to his wife have lived on in multiple retellings of the same enduring love story.

“Every day since Jack has gone the florist has delivered one long-stemmed red rose to my home,” Mary Livingstone, Jack’s widow, revealed in a magazine interview. “I learned that Jack actually had included a provision for the flowers in his will. One red rose to be delivered to me every day for the rest of my life.”

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A Dying Father’s Tender Message to his Daughter

“I’m so sorry I will not get to see you grow up as I so want to. Please don’t blame people or the world for this. A lot of life is simply luck and mine is running out.” So begins the letter written by Tom Attwater to his 5-year-old daughter, Kelli. The open and honest words are then followed by Tom’s life advice, covering everything from learning to drive to finding happiness. Tom, who has a terminal brain tumor, is also vowing to raise money for the cancer treatments Kelli will one day likely require (she has already beaten the disease twice but is likely to relapse). His selfless goal and heartfelt message have touched the lives of everyone who has heard the family’s story.

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A 12-Year-Old Girl’s Letter to Future Self Comforts Family

When Tim and Ellen Smith were sorting through boxes in their late daughter’s room, they came across a buried treasure that she’d left behind. 12-year-old Taylor Smith wrote an honest and heartfelt letter to her future self with the instruction, “To be opened by Taylor Smith on April 12, 2023.” Several months after Taylor wrote to her future self, she died unexpectedly from a sudden onset of pneumonia. The handwritten letter has brought a tremendous amount of comfort to her family, who feel blessed to have a time capsule that captures the hopeful and loving spirit of their daughter.

Click here to read Taylor’s letter.

Dying Mother Writes 20-Point Plan for Happiness for Family to Find

Anytime the husband and children of the lateAnnmarie James Thomas start to miss her, they have a plan. A 20-point plan, to be precise. Before she passed away from cervical cancer last year, Annmarie wrote down a list of life lessons she wanted to leave behind for her family. “The happiness you feel is in direct proportion to the love you give” and other life lessons are laid out for the family in list form. The mother of four was described as having an incredibly positive and upbeat attitude even during her battle with cancer (she also wrote a book called You Need Humor with a Tumour). Annmarie’s husband, Geraint, found the life guide two days after her passing, a final gift from a woman who brought so much joy into the lives of others.

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Dad Sends Love in Lunchbox Letters

Garth Callaghan began writing inspirational quotes, inside jokes and life advice on his daughter, Emma’s lunchbox napkins when she was in Kindergarten. The notes became especially precious to Emma, now 14, when her father was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2011. He has battled the disease twice since then and was told that he has only an 8 percent chance of surviving the next 5 years. Now, Garth is committed to writing the loving notes in advance, ensuring his loving words will remain an enduring presence in his daughter’s life for years to come.

“This isn’t a story about cancer, because any parent at any time could be hit by a car or have a heart attack,” Garth explained to “This is really about leaving a legacy so that she can understand some of my life philosophies and how much I love her.”

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Were there any inspiring final gifts that we missed? Leave us a comment and let us know. We never tire of reading these moving stories.