Those of you who have second, or even third and fourth families, please take this advice kindly.
Even if all the families are already aware of each other’s existence, there will still be repercussions especially when you are comfortably lying in the coffin, and all the different women and the children you have sired are in the same room for the first time in their lives.
Before your death, plan your funeral well to avoid the awkwardness for your children. Imagine the colleagues of one of your children visiting the wake and being introduced only to her full siblings, and wondering why she did not introduce the other kids crying loudly that their father is gone.
Or imagine colleagues of one of your children visiting while that child is not present at the wake, and approaching the wrong mother to extend their condolences. Or your children informing their bewildered colleagues that there is no need to visit the wake. Or relatives of the different wives visiting the wake at the same time, sitting beside each other and wondering out loud how one is related to each other.
To avoid all these or at least lessen the tension, plan your funeral well. Leave a sort of Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) and make sure all family members have authenticated copies of the document.
The IRR must have the following:
Give instructions on how the obituary will be published. You do not like one family to just to put their names as the surviving relatives. Or better yet, do not put any names of next of kins. Obit space is expensive so putting all the names of your children will be costly. Worse, you may forget to include someone! The best option is to have a master print ready for publishing.
Schedule the wake around family days. Give the families a specific day to mourn privately, without the prying judgmental eyes of the other families. This will also lessen the awkwardness of relatives, friends, colleagues of different families being together in a single room.
If you have more families than the number of scheduled days for the wake, you can schedule the families together but not the sequential ones on the same days. For example, you cannot schedule the first and second families on the same days as the first family may still resent the second family. You could schedule the first and third families on the same days. And the second and fourth on the same days. The first family will always treat the third family as the karmic family so there may be better bonding of these two families.
Identify who pays for what during the wake. Your objective is to spread the costs to everyone so that everyone has equal access to you. One family paying for the venue will inadvertently ostracize the other families and may relegate them as second-class citizens at your wake. This will also put everyone in equal footing in terms of forking out donations for all the funeral arrangements. And equal footing means that everyone can reasonably afford their contributions.
But be warned that there will always be one child who is the queen bitch who will dictate the arrangements. That child will flaunt her wealth and arrogantly take full financial responsibility in paying for all arrangements, regardless of the father’s wishes. More often than not, this child has to get a grand venue so it will look good when her friends and colleagues visit. And as a strict observer of the golden rule, she has the gold so she rules. It is her family that occupies the family room, dictates the menu, the schedule of the masses, etc.
Best of course is for you to have a burial plan ready and fully paid for. This ensures that the funeral arrangements are prepared by an independent unaffected third party.
Identify the priest who will say the mass and inform him (or confess if that works better for you) of your different families. A generic priest bumbling during the homily and showing confusion as he tries to identify all the surviving wives and children is a recipe for a viral YouTube clip.
Identify the people who will deliver the eulogies. You could be a different kind of father for each of the families. Some families may see you as the upgraded better version of you. Some may have seen you in the beta version, with all the kinks and flaws. You do not want to confuse people on what version of you is lying down on the coffin.
Identity your eulogists early and ask them to submit their eulogies for your review. Your objective is not to complain about nor edit your eulogies. Your objective is to be the person described in a good eulogy or change for the better when you read a bad eulogy. Look at this as Habit 2 of the 7 Habits: Begin with the end in mind.
Identify the pall bearers. Make sure that you also have a Plan B - the pall bearers that you choose may also be on the brink of death when the time comes.
If you were successful in arranging family days for your wake, you cannot avoid having them all together at your interment. On that day, make sure you prepare the seating arrangements. They cannot all sit in front, unless you are a really tall person and the length of your coffin accommodates all of them sitting in front. Arrange the seat plan by the eldest of each family. Then by the second eldest and so forth. This way, each child will not have their full siblings beside them. This forces each of your child to keep quiet and to focus on the service. This also keeps them away from the manipulative control of their mothers.
Remember that when your time comes, you will have the easiest job of all. You will be resting in peace while your children and their mothers may not.
My dad passed away last August 14, 2017 and this article was inspired by his planning skills. As the eldest child, his IRR liberated me from major decisions. I would like to thank all of my half siblings (Yasmin, Mitzi, Angela and Juno) and their mom (Tita Inday) for taking care of Daddy in his final years.
Any reference to persons, especially the queen bitch is, of course, intentional (which is no surprise to those who know me well).