Masonic Funeral Planning
Short Talk Bulletin
Volume 80, No. 3 ~ March 2002
by RWB Zelwin B. Eaton, MMBBFMN #412
Editor, The Missouri Freemason
"So live that when thy summons
comes to join the innumerable caravan that moves to that mysterious
realm where each shall take his chamber in the silent halls of death
..." (from the Grand Lodge of
Missouri Masonic Funeral Service)
We have all listened to these ageless words spoken in
honor of departed Brethren. The question I am asking is:
When it is you these words are spoken over, have you made the preparations necessary to satisfy the laws of the land and to ease the burden of your passing on your family?
It is something we should all consider in a timely manner and especially
while we are of sound mind and body and can make proper decisions
regarding our possessions and last wishes.
Approaching this task from the standpoint of membership in the
Fraternity, we must deal with the long-standing tradition not to
discuss, in detail, the business and customs of the Fraternity with
family members. Therefore, many widows and children have no idea who in
the Lodge needs to be notified of our passing. Let us make a few
suggestions that will ease the burden on your family and, at the same
time, ease the burden on the Lodge Secretary and the Master.
Include with your important papers, envelopes addressed to the Lodge
Secretary and the secretaries of all the appendant bodies in which you
have membership. Put a sheet of paper in each envelope with your Masonic
history (if you have been a member of more than one Lodge, be sure your
list reflects the correct names and locations of all Lodges in which you
have held membership in case you have transferred your membership) and a
place for your survivor to write the date of your passing and such other
information that might be of interest to the Lodge and/or appendant
bodies. Attach to the envelopes a sheet of paper with detailed
instructions that explain to your next of kin the importance of
notifying each Masonic body of your passing. If you are uncertain what
the correct address is, look at the return address on your latest dues
notice. Also, include with these important papers a sheet of paper with
instructions on whom to contact to request a Masonic funeral service.
The Master of your Lodge is always an appropriate person to contact when
requesting a service. If he is unavailable, contact your Lodge
It would be a good idea to write a draft of your obituary so that those
things that were important to you, in your life, will be known to
others. It also insures your Masonic memberships, titles, and honors are
spelled accurately. Include the full name of each body as well as the
complete title of each office you have held. Be sure to also include
specific instructions on the disposal of your Masonic ritual books,
pins, aprons, and related items.
If you have been a collector of Masonic books, pamphlets and other
such items, be sure to suggest proper disposition of these articles.
This may be to a Masonic relative who is interested, to the Lodge for
their library, or a brother who you know will keep and treasure your
books as you did. Alternatively, you may want to donate your books to
the Lodge with instructions to sell them and use the money earned for
upkeep of the Lodge hall or for a Lodge charity. Whatever your personal
wishes, make timely plans and leave clear instructions. It is sad to go
to a flea market or yard sale and see someone's Masonic book collection
lying in a neglected heap on a dusty table.
Now for a
look at the worldly side of the issue of death. As in disposition of
your Masonic belongings, it should be a priority with every brother to
make final plans. You should contact a funeral director and ask him or
her for assistance in preplanning your funeral and burial. Your funeral
director can assist you in developing a "pre-need plan." This plan can
be purchased and paid for at any time. The funeral director will help
you select your casket, service, vault, grave plot, and grave marker or
guide you if your wish is cremation. Also, they will make suggestions on
the type of service and what will be included in the service, such as
visitation times, minister/spiritual leader, songs, casket bearers,
Masonic emblem on the service folder. The funeral director should be
instructed to remind the family that it is customary for the apron to
remain in the casket.
The funeral director will counsel you on the financial aspects of
your service and will help you to select a casket, burial site, etc.,
that is within your financial range. He will suggest options for paying
for your pre-need, which can include CDs, insurance policies, etc. An
advantage of prepaying is that the cost can be frozen to protect against
inflation and save your family members these expenses when the service
The funeral director can give you a book that guides you in providing
the information needed. You should complete this book carefully and
completely. Be sure to include a copy of your obituary and a copy of the
list of Masonic bodies you belong to as was suggested earlier in this
pamphlet. If you are a veteran be sure to include pertinent information
about your service record. This should include branch of service, rank
held, medals awarded, date of entry, date of discharge, service serial
number and a copy of your discharge papers.
You should visit your attorney and have him draw up a last will and
testament. This will ensure your wishes are legal and binding, and will
leave no doubt as to the disposition of your property. Such arrangements
will raise a big burden from the shoulders of your survivors at a very
traumatic time in their lives.
Therefore, Brethren, do it now, for as the Masonic funeral service
says we, none of us, know when that time will come. Be prepared and be
considerate of your loved ones and your brothers and, most of all, be
prepared yourself, first in your heart and secondly in your affairs.
(Author's Note: The author would
like to thank Bro. Jeff Doss, a licensed Embalmer and Funeral Director,
for his contribution to this Short Talk Bulletin.)
Reprinted through the kind
auspices of the Masonic Service Association of North America.
Find out why the Masonic Funeral Service is important. See "The Masonic Funeral Service" page here.