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When death is near or has just occurred, there are so many things to do and yet there is nothing you can do. You feel helpless. You can’t make the person well or bring them back. But you know you will, very soon, need to make many decisions about the service, the final resting place, the music, food, flowers, donations, clothing and much more. Your mind is racing and oddly enough, at the same time, at a complete standstill. On one hand it feels like it is too soon to do anything. You’re just not ready. But at the same time, you feel the weight of all that is coming.
This is stress. It is hard. If you can, reach out to your family and friends and let them help you. Have your son or daughter get the older grandchildren involved in pulling together pictures and music. They are really good at this stuff. Going through the pictures brings back happy memories and it’s one of the most therapeutic chores that comes with funeral preparation. Let them do something that will help them - they are dealing with this loss too.
If would you would like family and friends to donate to a charity, put someone in charge of looking into that. Have your daughter-in-law pull together a few clothing choices for your final selection. Send your son-in-law to the cemetery or have him get the cars washed. You may want to delegate the task of writing the eulogy and obituary. Give someone the job of gathering information for the funeral luncheon or brunch.
Spread the work around. Let go, embrace help and give them something to do. You’ll feel better that things are getting done and they’ll feel better because they are involved and helping.
How does planning for your funeral in advance save you money? Doesn’t it just let the funeral home make money on your money? How big a part should emotion play in your funeral selections?
First, let’s be honest. Emotion is not a bad thing. Some life events should move us emotionally.
Marriage, birth, and death all appropriately tug at our heartstrings. But the cost of all three can also get out of hand if you make all the decisions when emotions are running high.
Put the word “wedding” in front of anything and the cost doubles. If you’ve ever planned a wedding you know that the dress will cost you half as much if you buy it in far in advance instead of just before you need it. The same is true of funerals.
When you and your spouse sit down together with the funeral director, well in advance, you’ll feel a little emotion as you consider the reality of your death.
But that little tug is nothing compared to what your husband or wife will feel if you don’t prepare in advance and they’re making those decisions alone hours after you’ve died.
Emotional overspending happens. Funeral directors don’t make it happen. In fact, they don’t like it either.
Advance planning allows you to make all the decisions that determine the final cost. Making them together with cool heads and warm hearts saves dollars.
Planning ahead eliminates the excessive spending that can occur when someone is in a heightened emotional state.
Think back to wedding planning.
Starting early can also help you absorb the cost over a longer period of time. That means you don’t drag the wedding debt into your brand new marriage.
When you plan your funeral in advance, you will also have the option of paying for it over time. That means you don’t have to take money from your savings or investments and your survivors won’t have the financial burden of paying for your funeral days after your passing.
Advance planning eliminates the need for a lump sum payment when death occurs.
All money set aside in advance for a funeral should be held with a third party. Nearly all funeral homes participate in programs that hold the dollars in either insurance or a trust product until the death occurs.
The funeral home should not have access to your funds and the insurance products they use should have an increasing death benefit to help offset inflation, providing a cushion for increasing funeral costs.
Consult with an advance planning specialist for more details.
There are two ways to take care of funeral planning: 1) you can plan your own funeral in advance or 2) your survivors can plan your funeral for you after your death. Regardless of when or who plans the funeral, the planning needs to begin from the inside out. It needs to start with your family. Your family should be the foundation for funeral planning.
After all, the funeral is not really for the deceased…it is for those who survive. We show respect for all human life in the manner in which we care for the body that housed the soul or spirit of our loved one. Respect and dignity for the body is important. The funeral helps those of us who survive as by changing our focus from the cause of the death to the life that was lived. The funeral is the beginning of our grieving process and that is why funerals are so important.
If you are planning in advance for your own final remembrance, begin by thinking of those who love you. Your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, your friends and even your co-workers, what will they remember? What will make them smile? What will comfort them? What will they need? When they think of you what will come to mind? How is faith a part of their lives?
If you are planning a funeral for a deceased family member, involve the children, grandchildren and even close friends in the process. Ask them how they remember their friend or relative. Remember, we have all had a unique relationship with the deceased, so what you want to remember may be different from what your brother remembers. Ask your funeral director for ideas so they can help you capture and express the unique personality of your family member in the service plan.
For many years funeral planning started with a different set of questions. It started with questions about the faith. What church did your mother belong to? It followed with questions about the decedent’s wishes. What do you think your dad would want? These are still good valid questions but basing the entire funeral plan on only these aspects may not touch every family member.
Mother may have preferred that no one see her after death, but if you, her daughter, need to see her, speak up. If you don’t share your brother’s faith and you need to hear a eulogy that is all about his life or see pictures that bring back your time growing up together, speak up. The imprint of the funeral sticks with the surviving family. It is literally the last memory we carry of someone we loved.