When a loved one dies, many of us are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do next, or who to call. Most of us have never thought about what we would do if a loved one dies or what kind of a service we would like to have. Pre-planning a funeral, or choosing a funeral home is something that is important to consider. It can be very helpful to know a little bit about the funeral profession and what steps may be taken towards preplanning a funeral.
Though families may find the topic difficult to discuss, the preplanning of funeral arrangements helps ensure that a persons wishes are met while reducing the emotional stress to the survivors of being unsure of what the deceased wishes were. Oft is heard the expression, “Just bury me in a pine box", but funerals are not for the deceased; they’re for the survivors and it is important to understand their needs.
There seems to be a growing perception that a funeral is unnecessary and a “waste of money”, but funerals are a vital part of the grieving process and a very important ceremony. A good funeral home will work with you to design the best possible service according to your wishes without obligating you to purchase unneeded goods or services.
The overwhelming volume of choices at the time of arrangements are one of the stresses that you can take away by preplanning. Do I want to be buried or cremated? Would I like my cremated remains to be scattered on Mount 7 or would I prefer a niche at the cemetery? Pre-planning also means talking with your family about what you would like and what they, as the survivors, would like to see done. Whenever possible, family members should participate in the preplanning arrangements. And with preplanning, you are not obligated to make on the spot decisions, as you may feel compelled to do when the need arises.
The whole concept behind pre-preplanning is that you may do this at your leisure, not at such a difficult time. Pre-planning a funeral can be as simple as writing the name of the preferred funeral home or cemetery on a slip of paper or as comprehensive as pre-selecting and pre-payment of the arrangements, cemetery or cremation, casket or urn, clothing, flowers, obituary notice and music. It can even include a written message to be delivered with the eulogy. Funeral arrangements can be changed if an individual’s plans are altered by the passage of time or life events.
Preplanning a service can begin at any time, but is best done in conjunction with preparation of other financial and legal documents such as wills or powers of attorney. Most people think that a will is the best place to write down specific funeral instructions, but in reality, the will is usually not read until after the funeral.
You will want to think about whether you would like a traditional funeral service, a service that may or may not include a religious component, a celebration of life, a simple ceremony at the graveside or a memorial service. Families can also choose to use a funeral celebrant, who provides individualized, personalized tributes for the family.
One of the greatest values a funeral home has to offer is a safe place to experience your emotions, whatever they may be. A funeral home is a place where you do not need to be in control. One of the most important aspects of choosing a funeral home is the staff. The funeral director you meet should convey warmth, compassion, knowledge and a sense of confidence in their abilities. Your impression should be that the person assisting knows how to support your decisions at a difficult time. You should feel free to ask questions and not feel pressured into making decisions on the spot. There should always be time to discuss and confer with other family members. Setting your wishes and also your vital statistics down on paper with the funeral director relieves your family of this burden after your passing. Would your family know where your wishes would be written down and information such as your mother and father’s legal names and birthplaces?
Depending on the type of service you would like, you will want to make sure the facility can accommodate your needs. Visiting the funeral home before the need arises can also take away some of the stress and be less intimidating. The home should be well maintained and provide access for disabled persons.
Preplanning doesn’t mean prepaying. Individuals may, but are not obligated to, pre-fund a preplanned funeral. Costs can be paid at the time of death out of the estate, from an insurance fund or by the survivors. Cremation can also be funded in advance or at the time of death. By pre-paying though, you are locking the cost in at today’s prices, whether the death occurs tomorrow or in twenty years.
Preplanning a funeral is something that everyone can and should do for peace of mind for yourselves and your survivors.
Contact our office today to arrange a free, no obligation consultation with one of our funeral directors.