The Benefits of Planning For a Funeral in Advance

Learn about the benefits of planning for a funeral in advance and how it can save you and your loved ones from emotional and financial stress. Discover how pre-planning can prevent costly surprises and help you make informed decisions in a difficult time

The Benefits of Planning For a Funeral in Advance
 Advantages of planning for a funeral in advance 

By Judy

I never thought I would be writing about the benefits of planning for a funeral in advance.

My heart-sister’s neighbor battled cancer for 6 years. There were times things went well for her and we all were optimistic — but the cancer always came back — and usually in a different place. After 6 years of radiation and chemo she said last summer that she was done. Done fighting the disease, done fighting the after-effects of the treatments, just… done. So they set everything up to make her last months as comfortable as possible, letting her enjoy what she could. While we were down there for the holiday, she asked to see me, and I went over and visited for a while. After we left her, I told my sister that I doubted she would live out the week. I was right.

She died Thursday night, and now her husband is trying to make all the usual arrangements. It’s surprising to those who know him that he had not already set plans up for thus — it’s not as if her death was sudden or unexpected. But denial is a very strong thing, and can offer a lot of false comfort. Unfortunately, when we don’t want to admit to ourselves what is really happening, we set ourselves up for severe shocks…. The big shock in this case is how much it costs to be buried. The best price he was able to find was $11,000 for the funeral service – and $17,000 for a double burial plot! That’s a lot of money!

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    Ironically, she wanted to be cremated, but he was not in favor of that idea and talked her out of it – but now, because of the shocking prices he’s been quoted, he’s reconsidering that option. The current plan under consideration is to have her cremated and keep her ashes, to be buried with him whenever his time comes.

    More on planning for a funeral in advance…

    Benefits of Pre Planning Your Funeral

    We are sad about the loss of a friend, we feel sympathy for her bereaved husband, but we are all in shock over the cost of dealing with her death. When my mom died several years ago, she had a pre-paid funeral plan that was set up at the time of my father’s death, many years before. I was startled at the time to learn that we still had to pay an extra $3,000 to cover the “inflation” costs – and almost $1,000 of that was to pay to have the grave “opened” or dug!! That’s a particularly tacky loophole, which many people aren’t aware of, that funeral companies hit you with to help make up the profits lost on pre-paid funerals.

    I remember all too well what it was like to plan and/or arrange funerals – I was involved in the arrangements for two uncles, and I ended up being the one to arrange my mother’s funeral and memorial service. It helps a lot if you have someone to support and help you through this. It helps even more if you do it ahead of the time you need it, because trying to do so when the time has arrived is stressful, confusing, and distressing. It leads to rash, emotional decisions and choices that can cost a lot in the long run.

    On the positive side, this situation has led to a conversation between me and my heart-sister about her wishes, and between me and my husband about our wishes. As it happens, I do own a double burial plot; the last two spaces in my mom’s family’s plot in her hometown. It’s been a bit of a running joke since it came into my possession a decade ago – but now it’s not so funny, and much more of a comfort.

    The Financial Benefits of Advanced Planning a Funeral

    Have a story about planning a funeral? Did your family member pre plan their funeral? Please share here? Help others realize that they are not alone. Submit Your Caregiver Story

    Plan Ahead: Ensure Your Final Wishes Are Met and Lighten the Load for Your Loved Ones

    Take action now to spare your family the stress of not knowing your wishes for your final arrangements or your life story. By gathering a few key items and organizing them in a file folder, you can provide clarity and direction when the time comes.

    Choose a Memorable Photo: Instead of leaving it up to someone else, select a photo of yourself that you would like to be remembered by. Opt for one with high resolution to ensure it looks great in newspapers or memorial service programs.

    Share Your Life Story: Don't rely on others to accurately recall your journey. As we age, even our closest loved ones may forget certain details. Take the time to jot down the key points of your life, ensuring that your family knows how you want to be remembered.

    Make Your Burial Plans: Don't leave the decision of where to be laid to rest to your grieving family. Discuss and purchase your burial plot in advance to remove any uncertainty. If you have specific preferences, such as being buried in a restricted area like Arlington National Cemetery, it's important to check if you qualify.

    Define Your Service Preferences: Don't let your memorial service be a mismatch to who you were in life. Consider what you would like your loved ones to share about you when they gather to celebrate your life. By expressing your wishes, you can ensure that the service truly reflects your personality and desires.

    Many people are unprepared when it comes to writing obituaries, informing others of a death, or planning funerals. It's important to consider your own wishes for your memorial service, even if you're not religious. Funerals are meant to comfort the living, but it's crucial to ensure that the event reflects your unique life. For example, one memorable service I attended ended with the deceased's favorite treats being distributed to mourners as they left.

    When choosing a eulogist, it's advisable to select people who know you in different ways so that diverse aspects of your life can be highlighted. Make sure your chosen eulogists are confident speakers who won't falter at the sight of a microphone. Additionally, note any songs, hymns, passages, poems, or readings that you'd like to be included.

    Create a list of contacts

    Creating an email list of friends, family members, and others to be contacted upon your death can save your family time and unnecessary distress. It's a good idea to compile this list now, as it can also come in handy for sharing happy news such as marriages, births, or graduations. In the Home Health Care Notebook, we have a section to help you plan, and keep this information handy when the time comes. It decreases stress at a very emotional time.

    These preparations can be done alone or with loved ones and don't have to be a somber task. In fact, they can be a meaningful and rewarding bonding experience. The information you gather will be a valuable gift to your loved ones during one of the most challenging times of their lives.

    Once you've compiled this information, it can be stored along with your life insurance, will, and other important documents, with the hope that it won't need to be accessed for a long time.

    By taking these steps now, you'll not only ease the burden on your family but also provide them with a clear roadmap to honor your life and final wishes.

    Create a Memorial Page for Your Loved One

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    Preparing for Aging

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