Beyond a few legal requirements, there is no standard set of rules when it comes to the “right way” to do a funeral.
There are however a few things that just about everyone can agree on:
- Funerals are for the living, and;
- It’s important to write down your funeral plans so your family will know your wishes.
Some people want a traditional funeral and burial. Others prefer cremation. Still others want their funeral to be more contemporary, marked by celebration of a life well lived, rather than somber mourning.
Cultural background and religious affiliation (or lack of) will almost certainly play a large role.
No One Set Way
Different funeral homes and directors will also approach funerals differently. Some for example might consider bright colors and casual dress perfectly fine, while others might consider anything other than formal black to be inappropriate. Some facilities sport a home-like, parlor feel, while others are styled in a more contemporary facility-like manner. It’s important to choose one who will be in tune with your own preferences.
So if a funeral service is for the living, what is the point of pre-planning?
Say for example your family will want an open-casket funeral and burial in the church cemetery, but you have always wanted closed casket and cremation, who should get their way?
Funerals Are For The Living
In pre-planning your or a loved one’s funeral, the focus is generally on the importance of writing down your wishes, so your family will know what funeral arrangements you prefer when the time comes, easing the stress of needing to make such decisions during a particularly emotional time.
On the other hand, if the funeral is more for the living and less for the deceased, a process that helps bring closure and lets loved ones begin their emotional healing process, why shouldn’t they have the opportunity to plan a funeral that will best enable them to do that?
There is no cut-and-dried answer to this dilemma. Your funeral shouldn’t be a choice between your laying out every detail, or leaving it up to your family to arrange after your passing – it should be a mix of both.
In short then, pre-planning your funeral should both honor your wishes, AND provide healing and comfort to the ones who will be attending.
Why You Should Pre-Plan Your Funeral
Pre-planning a funeral is much more than deciding the minor details of the service and choosing the music that will be played. It is also more than making sure that your final arrangements are financially covered and will be paid for without burdening your family.
- It helps begin important decisions about death
There is a huge social stigma about death. Death and funerals are dark, sad, and depressing. Most people want to avoid sadness and pain, and to many pre-planning feels like starting early on something unpleasant they know they will be facing eventually, drawing out the pain – or for the superstious – hastening it.
Death is a normal part of the cycle of life and living. Going to funerals, planning funerals, and simply talking about funerals helps your family become more comfortable with the idea, and can help people come to grips with their own feelings about death.
- It relieves a huge financial burden from families
Funerals are expensive. The least expensive cremation without a service will still run your family between $2,000-$3,000. A full-blown funeral with service and graveyard committal can cost $10,000 or more – assuming that you already have a burial plot.
Most people simply do not have that kind of money just lying around, and even if they have savings to cover the cost, it puts a terrible strain on their budget.
What makes funeral costs different is that they usually come suddenly and unexpectedly, and must be paid within days or at best a few weeks.
This can cause family members to feel overwhelmed, burdened, and additionally stressed at a very emotional time. Where several family members may have to share the expense, it can lead to or exacerbate family conflicts.
Financial pre-planning enables you to relieve this burden, either by setting aside some money out of your own savings or even pre-paying the expenses, or your family might be able to start setting aside money, in amounts that will not stress their budgets.
When you take responsibility for your own funeral arrangements, and plan and pay for those arrangements in advance, you are protecting your loved ones, and also removing the potential for emotional overspending at the time of your death.
- It provides an opportunity for you to understand what your family needs
When we say that a funeral is for the living, it doesn’t mean that it is up to the family to plan the funeral in whatever way is easiest, fastest, or least expensive.
It also means that funerals are important for the healing and comfort they provide to family and friends, after a loved one has passed.
Simply pre-planning any old funeral or picking a funeral package won’t do much to create this important healing experience. That’s why it is important that families have these conversations together during a pre-planning process.
Here are some questions to consider in your conversations about funeral planning:
- What makes you uncomfortable at a funeral? What makes you feel more comfortable?
- Does having a body present at a funeral help you in the grieving process?
- Do you like the idea of having a permanent memorial to go to (headstone or plaque) and reflect on your loved one’s life?
- Are you comfortable with the idea of cremation. Do you like the idea of having an urn with the ashes at home?
These questions (and others) are a good starting point for helping you and your family get a better understanding about what elements of a funeral will be important and meaningful, so you can make appropriate decisions in advance.
Pre-Planning Is Important
Pre-planning your or a loved ones funeral is tremendously helpful, not only in that it enables good decisions to be made prior to the emotional time following the death of someone close, but it also is a conversation that all families should have.
The above questions are not just questions that should be answered by you, they should be answered by you and your entire family.
Pre-arranging and pre-funding your own funeral is a gift of love to your family. Contact us today to learn more.