You might think addressing final arrangements over the holidays is grim, but what’s really grim is not making your wishes clear by planning in advance; when the time does come, your family not only has to deal with an emotional loss, they also have the added stress of trying to make difficult decisions about what you would have wanted. By preplanning and taking care of finances ahead of time, you can save them from additional stress and an unexpected and potentially expensive funeral bill.
Why the holidays? It’s the time most families gather: Having everyone involved present makes sure you – and all of them – are on the same page about your wishes and where to find the necessary documentation when needed. While it may seem difficult now, it will make everyone more comfortable later. Just think, once a loved one dies, there are about three days to consider, decide and plan a funeral.
“It’s a heck of a lot better to discuss thoughts about advance medical directives and funeral plans over the kitchen table or during a long walk than over an ailing patient in a hospital emergency room,” said Gail Rubin, aka The Doyenne of Death, a death educator and author.
Perhaps tell your family ahead of the holiday that when everyone is together, you would like to discuss final arrangements. While they may protest at first, advance notice may give them more time to become comfortable with the idea.
Here are some things you may want to talk about with your spouse, partner or children:
- Whether you want to be buried or cremated (or have a green funeral or even donate your body to science);
- If you want a traditional funeral or a memorial service;
- If you have a specific church or cemetery you want for the service, or a special place where you’d like a memorial service held;
- If you choose cremation, whether you want your ashes interred or scattered (and where);
- How you want to be remembered;
- Who you want the family to contact about funeral or other plans;
- Whether you want donations in lieu of flowers;
- If there’s specific music you’d like played or a poem you’d like read;
- Any advance plans you’ve made with a funeral home and whether you have prepaid. (Learn more about preplanning here);
- Where to find any paperwork, including final arrangement plans, will, estate information and more. For help, see, “Important documents to prepare before you die.”
Only 17 percent of people under age 65 pre-plan for their final arrangements, according to a 2015 survey by the National Funeral Directors Association. After age 75, the percentage climbs to 34 percent. Think of planning as a gift you give to your family and consider having the conversation sooner rather than later.
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If you would like help with the preplanning process, request a free planning consultation online or call us toll-free at 1-800-PHANEUF (or at 603-625-5777).