MJ Laid to Rest: What You Can Learn about Burial Planning

By Neetal Parekh on September 04, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Whether or not we have recovered from the shock of Michael Jackson's early departure, the constant stream of headlines ranging from custody matters to cause of death to burial planning decisions have kept the King of Pop where he was most comfortable-- in front of his fans.

Late this week the singer, dancer, performer-extraordinaire was laid to rest, over two months after his death on June 25th 2009.  Deciding on a burial location proved to be an involved process for the Jackson family.  But in front of 200 close friends and family on Thursday, Michael Jackson assumed his final place in the Great Mausoleum located in the Glendale Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Southern California.

What can we learn from the burial experience of the superstar?  Considering that none of us know how or when we will make our exit, there are a few choice considerations to keep in mind so that our transition from life to the hereafter is made smooth for those we love and care for.

1. Create a final arrangements or "last wishes" document.  You can include this as an addendum to your will or even to an Advanced Healthcare Directive (Living Will).  Choose to keep it in a place that will be easy to find, so even if the will is not executed right away your final wishes will be made known immediately. Sign and date the document, and consider recording the signature of a witness, for good measure.

2. Answer these questions in planning your last wishes.

  • Burial or cremation?
  • A particular place for final rites to take place?
  • A special location for burial or where to scatter ashes?
  • Any details regarding final ceremony, obituary, or arranging payment for final plans?

3. Think of it as planning.  We give some thought to planning events such as birthdays, graduations, weddings, so don't overlook the chance to consider the details of an event that we know is ahead.  When sitting down to draw up this document think of it more as a planning exercise than anything else.   It is a chance to have a say and clarify things in the present so that that there is not confusion or miscommunication in the future.  Also, if you are uncomfortable foretelling this part of your life, you are welcome to designate someone you trust to take on a decision-making role in making your final arrangements.  

Recording your final wishes in writing is not to hasten the after life, but to let you live and enjoy the present with the knowledge that you have given careful consideration to future, no matter how unexpected.  Crossing this off your to-do list may even add a little bounce to your step, and let you get back to planning more important matters-- like exciting plans for the weekend.  


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