Funeral held for man who isn’t dead

[Update 3/20/17 Mr. Eleveld died on Sunday 3/19]

Perhaps the best time to have a funeral is while we’re still alive.

Bob Eleveld’s obituary appeared this week in the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press.

But Bob isn’t dead. He’s dying, mind you. But, aren’t we all?

The funeral is Saturday.

bobHel-“LO”! This is Bob Eleveld. As I write this notice, I am still with you, although my doctors have informed me that this status will change in the near future. I have decided, however, to eschew the normal process of others celebrating my life after I die and, instead, would like to celebrate your lives with me. I would like to invite those who are able to attend my “Celebration of Life” Open House on Saturday, March 18, from 1-3 PM at Thousand Oaks Golf Club. I’m planning on being there with you. I would like the opportunity to share a moment with all of the people who have touched my life in so many ways and to let you know how much you have meant to me. My loving partner, Michele; my children (Rob & Julita, Kerry & Laura, Lisa & Kurt, Wendy, Kristina & John, Jennifer, John & Beth, and Matt); grandchildren (Bobby, John, Kate, Michael & Elissa, Drew, Lauren & Mike, Katelyn & Ryan, Emma, Hannah, RJ & Bernadette, Matthew & Amanda, Kyle & Nikki, Katie and Joshua); and great-grandchildren (Miles, Finlee, and Baby Boy Hinkle, who’s on his way) are at ease with the fact that we’re in the fourth quarter with no more Hail Mary passes. I recognize that the timing of this event may be a bit odd, considering that I will be with you for this Celebration of Life. Doing this brings me great joy. We’d be honored if you would drop in, say hi, share a glass of red and a laugh. I would like to remember with love those who have passed before me, including my parents, John and Dena, my brother, Jack, Marilyn Eleveld, and my granddaughter, Jessica. I also share a special thought of Lynn Eleveld. Beginning on Hall Street in East Grand Rapids, through East Grand Rapids High School, Dartmouth College, Michigan Law School and the Michigan Air National Guard to a career that let me work with and serve others, I have met countless people who have influenced my life. You are my friends, my colleagues, my family – the people I would absolutely love to share a roast beef sandwich, some shrimp and a beer with – on me! I hope you can join me and the Eleveld family on March 18, 2017 at an Open House from 1-3 PM at Thousand Oaks Golf Club (4100 Thousand Oaks Dr. NE Grand Rapids, MI). Please know that the end of my life is the ultimate “peanut item” in comparison to how much I have enjoyed my life with all of you.

“Yes this is unconventional, and yes some people think it’s a little weird,” Eleveld, 80, tells the paper.

“I do think there is a lot more thought now nationally about what end of life means, about how we should approach it and what’s meaningful and what isn’t,” his daughter said. “And if there’s a better way of doing this than we’ve been doing it.”

  • Bob Sinclair

    I’ve found it odd that we “celebrate” a person’s life after they’ve died. (“Yahoo, they’re dead!”) I think part of this is our aversion to death or the concept of death.
    My thinking is that we should celebrate folk’s lives while they’re alive (everyday if possible). When they die we can remember them, but it’s awfully hard to celebrate them when they are gone.

    • ec99

      “Aversion” is an apt term. Notice all the expressions in English which purposefully avoid the word died: called home, gone to be with his Maker, crossed the bar, croaked, kicked the bucket, bought the farm…

      • Bob Sinclair

        I’m reminded of the Monty Python “Dead Parrot” sketch.

      • Rob

        Yup. Dead is dead; call a spade a spade.

  • Jack

    I like this idea. Why not have one more chance to visit with special people? How many of say that we wish we had told someone how much they have meant to us?

    Best wishes for a huge turnout Bob Eleveld!

  • Rob

    What about Bob? He’s hosting his own funeral! I plan to follow his lead.

  • Jeff C.

    A friend of mine in MN was diagnosed with terminal cancer when she was 50. Her college roommate came to visit her from N.C. before she died. The roommate could only afford to make one trip to MN so she came while my friend was alive instead of waiting for the funeral. I think it totally makes sense to celebrate a person’s life while they are alive instead of after they die.