The Cowboy Funeral

by Amy L. Silva Rigtrup

When most people think about pre-planning their funeral, the most common reason for doing so is to remove the financial burden from their family members. Pre-planning your funeral, whether financially, non-funded, having a conversation about your wishes with your family or simply thinking about how you want to be remembered does so much more. It lifts the emotional burden from your family and sets the tone for your funeral by injecting your personality into elements that your family, upon your death, might not have the time or mental capacity within their grief, to carry out.

My guest on this week's episode of The Silva Lining is the perfect example of someone who had an idea of how he wanted his funeral to be and found a funeral director willing to make it happen. 

Leo Jarvais called me a year ago looking for a funeral home that would allow him to have a "cowboy/saloon style" funeral with his homemade wooden casket standing up against the wall. Open. With him in it. Wearing sunglasses, a pink shirt that says, "goodbye", jeans and fuzzy pink booties. My interest and curiosity were immediately peaked and I had him come in and talk to me about logistics. 

I implore you to listen to Leo's story in his own words on the podcast. His ideas and inspirations came from a mixture of his own personality, feelings about funerals, sense of humor and was all sparked by his woodworking hobby. What I commend him for is realizing his idea and never giving up on it - no matter how many people (including funeral directors) told him it couldn't be done. Here is a picture of the casket he made out of solid oak and with complete wood/peg construction - not a single metal screw or nail was used. 

Check back here in a few weeks because Leo told me he will share the picture of him in the casket with all of the clothes he plans on wearing when the day comes! 

So listeners, take from this show the notion that any idea, big or small, can be done in some way or form. All it takes is a conversation. The most important conversation is with your family - because no pre-arrangements are worth making if your family doesn't know about it. Secondly, your funeral director knows the parameters of legalities, safety and logistics that need to be met and holds the creative "key" to pull your ideas into fruition. 

Not ready to sit in a funeral home and talk? I'm always just an email away at

I'd love to hear from you and help in any way I can.  

The Silva Lining is thankful for our wonderful sponsor:

St. Anthony of Padua Credit Union - We are proud to be sponsored by such an incredible bank, that in an age of conglomerate banks treating people like numbers, maintains a relationship with its members based on trust, friendly service and loyalty. With competitive rates for savings accounts and various loans, St. Anthony of Padua can handle all of your financial needs. Convenient online banking and more information at