As we know, many of us find it difficult to talk about death. Although it is something that will eventually happen to all of us, it is still not a popular topic of conversation. Unfortunately, usually the only time we face death is when it is forced upon us when a loved one dies. Often, we as a funeral home, see families feel overwhelmed and lost when final wishes have not been discussed. End of life planning, from choosing a final resting place to writing an obituary, all while respecting the wishes of the deceased, is an exhausting and emotional process. Too often we see families have less meaningful experiences than they could have had because they feel too overwhelmed or underprepared to deal with the death. Besides educating our families in a professional and compassionate way, how can we help them alleviate some of this added stress? We encourage everyone to pre-plan!
Just like any other anticipated event in life, planning in advance can help eliminate many of the things that add further stress to the situation. Talking about your loved ones’ final wishes, or your own, may seem taboo or morbid, but it has many benefits.
Pre-planning is not a new 21st Century phenomenon. Dating back to Ancient Rome, people have made sure things are in place for themselves and loved ones upon the end of life.
What is pre-planning exactly?
Pre-planning can be as simple as expressing your final wishes to your loved ones or taking a step further and providing that same information to a trusted, local funeral home of your choice.
By visiting a local funeral home, a funeral director can walk you through the pre-arrangement process and discuss all the services they provide. Upon choosing a funeral home that you feel most comfortable with, it is smart to get some key information set aside in a pre-arrangement file. Depending on the services you select, these items may include:
- Vital information necessary in creating a Death Certificate (for all deaths)
- Obituary information
- Family contact sheet
- Preferred final disposition and service information
- Cemetery information
- Veterans discharge paperwork
- Preferred casket/urn
- Favorite flower, poem, song, color, etc.
- Scattering locations
Also, while pre-arranging, most funeral homes have an option to start paying for the funeral services and products selected prior to the actual death.
Why should I pre-plan?
Some people may feel saddened and even mortified when attempting to talk about these topics. Answering these questions for themselves and their loved one can feel awkward. However, pre-planning can be the greatest act of love.
Losing someone can be one of the most difficult experiences we go through in life. There are different processes we go through after a death has occurred, and grieving is a part of that. When we decide to set things in place, it essentially eases the burden on our family and gives them permission to grieve sooner. Without having to make stressful decisions, families can avoid the added worry of whether they are making the right choices. It could also help family members avoid quarrels.
Another reason pre-planning is helpful is simply to let people know what your wish is for your physical remains after dying. Do you prefer a traditional burial? Would you like to be cremated and scattered somewhere of significance? Does your religion have specific rituals that require special care? These are all things that can be talked about and placed in a pre-arrangement file.
The benefits of pre-planning go beyond grief, as well. If you decide to pay in full or start pre-paying for your funeral arrangements, you can alleviate the financial burden that is left on your surviving family. Just a phone call to the funeral home and your plans would be set in motion.
Talking about death and planning your own funeral doesn’t have to be creepy or scary. You can make your own wishes known and also allow your family to focus on celebrating your life- a more joyful part of the grieving process.
By, Olivia Bien