I believe that I can request the 49 day plaque for her, but I am beginning to question whether this is right.
Excellent questions! You don’t have a sincerity problem.
First of all, the 49-day plaque includes going to the heavens as well. It’s designed to more or less shoot for the minimum of not falling into the three evil paths. That is why we should be consulted so as to determine the proper course of action. Also, the 49-day Dharma basically allows the deceased a choice of going for a human/heaven rebirth versus to the Pure Land. So far, our clients (of all faith and non-faith backgrounds) chose to go to the Western Bliss Pure Land.
Since it is your mother’s friend, she will have to decide. You did the right thing by telling her about our Buddhist 49-day Dharma. I’m very pleased that you even considered requesting it for her friend. That’s very generous of you. No wonder [another student] & you are such great friends; you’re both very kind-hearted.
Typically, when we are consulted on the 49-day Dharma, we closely examine the case/conditions and make the recommendation. Should we see that the deceased is falling into the lower realms, we would recommend more appropriate courses of actions. For example, when [well known US senator] was dying, I knew that he was in bad shape and destined to fall. I gently brought it up in class but no one took it to heart. As a result, he fell into the animal realm.
Coming back to you.
I do not recommend that you request the 49-day ceremonies for your mother’s friend. You should explain this Dharma to your mother so as to educate her. She might be impressed with your growth unless she has already noticed it.
The reason is because, as you pointed it out, you will have a hard time justifying it to your husband. We are not talking about a few hundred dollars here! He should be consulted on major purchases, not only because of monetary considerations but, equally important, because mutual consultation builds understanding and trust.
You would be better off investing in rebirth plaques for his parents. Now that you married into their family, you should treat his parents as if they are your own: visit them more regularly (i.e. bring your husband along so that he can visit them as well) and make the effort to get to know them better. Take care of your own family first before enlarging to others. Never make the mistake of neglecting your immediate family; remember to build your base.