GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A Michigan man has published his own obituary and scheduled his own memorial service after stopping cancer treatment.
Bob Eleveld, 80, announced this week that he will host a “celebration of life” open house on Saturday in lieu of a funeral. Eleveld also published an obituary on March 12 with the date range “8/3/1936 - Not Yet,” the Grand Rapids Press reports.
“We’re calling it the nobit,” said his daughter, Kerry Eleveld, CBS affiliate WLNS reports.
“Yes this is unconventional, and yes some people think it’s a little weird,” Kerry Eleveld said. But she added that having an end-of-life party fits her father’s personality perfectly.
“Long before he had cancer, he would always say, ‘Don’t throw a funeral for me. Have a party,’” she said. “This feels like the perfect way to honor my father, because it’s the way he wants to do it. It seems perfectly fitting.”
Bob Eleveld is a Grand Rapids attorney who has also been involved in politics as a local Republican Party chairman, a state representative candidate and a member of the East Grand Rapids City Commission.
“Hel-’LO’! This is Bob Eleveld,” his obituary begins. “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.”
He began treatment for a rare form of leukemia in May 2015, but has now stopped.
The weekend after Thanksgiving 2016, some members of the family shared a dinner out in Seattle with Eleveld and his longtime partner, WLNS reports.
As they talked about him coming to the end of his treatment options and the plans for a belated 80th birthday party sometime in 2017, someone suggested moving the party up.
“We had about 6 people there and everybody just sort of lit up at that idea,” Kerry Eleveld said. “That was the moment that we as a family and my father and his partner first started considering it.”
Kerry Eleveld said her father’s celebration plans raise questions about how people deal with death.
“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,” she said. “And if there’s a better way of doing this than we’ve been doing it.”