Preplanning a Funeral
Discussing your funeral wishes with your family.
No one wants to think about their own mortality or the death of close family or friend, but death comes to us all. You can begin the funeral planning process long before your own death or if you are ill and are faced with the inevitable, planning your own funeral can be an empowering experience. You're able to make sure things are done in the way you'd like them done and it will spare your survivors the burden of having to make difficult decisions and incurring expenses on your behalf during their time of grief.
It is recommended that if you decide to preplan, you discuss your wishes with your family in advance. There have been many stories of people going to the trouble of preplanning but then not informing anyone and only after the funeral did the family find that their wishes had not be followed. Print off a copy of the preplanning checklist. Plan a family dinner to go over the arrangements you want made or have made. If there is a written record it is much more likely that your wishes will be fulfilled after your death so be sure to write everything down. Make copies and give to all family members so that there is no confusion over what was said or agreed to.
Some of the most difficult decisions about funerals and death relate to your choices of:
- body or organ donation
- life support
These are difficult subjects to discuss at any time but in times of grief and sadness it can be especially difficult and emotional. Talk openly about your wishes and your reasons for choosing these options. If your family knows for certain that you want to donate your organs then they may be more accepting of your decision when the time comes. Knowing that they have honoured your decisions will give them strength and not feel worried or concerned that they are making wrong or hasty decisions.
The other area that will need some upfront discussion is the question of cost.
It is easy to get swept up in the emotions of the moment and it is common for families to overspend on funerals. You have several options with regards to talking about costs and how much money you would like/think is appropriate to spend on your funeral. You can:
- set aside a set amount of money
- pre-pay part or all of the funeral in advance
- leave up to the discretion of family members
Most problems will arise when you have not left any instructions on the type of service you want. Shop around so that you and family members can compare prices. Also talk freely with your family about the funeral "wish list" and the services that you may not require if cost becomes an issue.
Finally, tell your family where your last will and testament and important documents are kept so that when the times comes they are ready and prepared for all decisions.
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