friends clapping

Here’s the deal. Every time I go to a funeral I hear fabulous things about the dearly departed and I think, “Boy, wouldn’t he or she love to have heard all this!” And maybe they attend in spirit, and maybe they hear it. But it’s a little late, don’t you think? My guess is they’d like to hug the people saying these marvelous things, perhaps return a few compliments, and bask in the appreciation everyone is expressing.

Particularly from their children. Kids, as we know, take forever to grasp just how much you do for them. Sure, you can teach them to say “thank you,” and sometimes they even mean it. But it will virtually be eons before they truly know how much you did for them. And you and I both know we’ll be dead by the time that happens.

I say we contrive a funeral-esque party right now! Bring on the praise and pour it on thick. No one needs to cry, no one needs to wish they had just one more chance to apologize or tell you they love you. You’re there, right before them, and they can grasp the opportunity. If anyone is at a loss for words, we can even hand them a script. Everything you wish people would say would actually get said!

Imagine all the fun memories they’ll recount, the meaningful life lessons you imparted, the unforgettable darling things you did and said. They’ll recall your testimony, your fine example, the legions of people you helped with no thought of credit or accolade. Well, until now. They’ll remember the delicious comfort foods, your vast talents, your brilliant mind, your flawless style. (Like I said, we might have to script some of this.)

And the wayward ones will be forced to admit they caused you undeserved heartache and many a sleepless night. They will promise to turn over a new leaf, right their wrongs, and make you proud of them. Their speeches will be the most tear-jerking of all.

Someone will read your eulogy, omitting every mistake and exaggerating every triumph. You will sound like Mother Theresa, Albert Schweitzer, and half a dozen apostles, all rolled into one.

You probably will not be able to keep a straight face-nor will anyone else-but you’ll all laugh until you cry and that alone will be worth it. You’ll hug, you’ll eat (there will be a huge feast, of course), you’ll realize how much you’re loved, and you will never wonder in the night, as do so many elderly, if your children even care about you.

Best of all, your children will be forced to admit they had it pretty darn good, and that light bulb of recognition and appreciation might go on a few years early. The ensuing years will be filled with the respect and gratitude you’ve earned, kick-started by this ingenious event, and you’ll even get to enjoy the flowers.

Sure, someday it will be for real. But it can be a mere P.S. after this tribute. You’ll be long gone, anyway, whooping it up at the Welcome Home party on the other side. And wait til they hear how you managed to enjoy a sneak preview!

So get working on the script-a milestone is always better than a headstone– and you can choose your next big birthday for the celebration. Be sure to serve Funeral Potatoes, and all your favorite desserts. After all, it isn’t every day you fake your death, so live it up!


Joni Hilton’s latest novel, “FUNERAL POTATOES-THE NOVEL” (Covenant Communications) is in LDS bookstores everywhere.

Her latest novel, JUNGLE, has been called “the next Twilight” and is a mainstream contemporary romance available on Kindle at just in time for Christmas!

Hilton has written 20 books, three award-winning plays, and is a frequent public speaker and a former TV talk show host. She is also the author of the “As the Ward Turns” series, “The Ten-Cow Wives’ Club,” and “The Power of Prayer.” Hilton is a frequent writer for “Music & The Spoken Word,” many national magazines, and can be reached at her website, She is married to TV personality Bob Hilton, is the mother of four, and currently serves as Relief Society President in her ward in northern California.