If Justin Bieber can do it, you can too. Yes, at the ripe old age of 22, the singer and actor laid out plans for his own funeral including a 3D hologram at his gravesite. Planning your own funeral doesn’t have to involve a solar-powered video screen running 24/7, but it does require some thinking. Here are some questions you may be thinking:
Why plan your own funeral?
There are several reasons, but the main one is that conversations and proper planning now make a very difficult time easier down the road for your loved ones. Unless you orchestrate a “living funeral,” where you’ll be in attendance, you won’t be there to ensure your final wishes are carried out. Planning your own funeral and pre-arrangements assures your service (or lack thereof) meets your wishes.
How to plan a funeral for yourself
- Thoughtful consideration: The first step in preparing an end-of-life plan is to determine your wishes. We vaguely explore these ideas when we see things in movies or shows, news articles or experiences of friends. Unfortunately, some of us do not give it serious thought without provocation. Set aside time to dig into your personal beliefs and values. Consider your family, your faith and your priorities.
- Talk about it: Don’t wait until a serious illness or accident to address end-of-life matters. Tell your loved ones what you would like done in various situations. Determine who will speak for you about your wishes if you cannot speak for yourself.
- Get it in writing: Write down basic information to capture your end-of-life wishes. We have a planning guide to assist you called My Life, My Wishes.
- Look at service types: Think deeply on what kind of end-of-life service you want, while taking into consideration personality, lifestyle and general preferences. Often, these considerations will be enough to help you discern whether a funeral or a memorial service is right for you. Funerals frequently feature all the rituals and ceremonies associated with death, including the viewing of the body and pallbearers carrying the casket to its final resting place. Memorial services are often a simpler and more direct way to say goodbye, avoiding much of the pomp and circumstance.
- Your final remains: You need to decide between burial and cremation. Currently, more than half of Americans are cremated, and this option is already chosen by more than 75% of New Hampshire and Vermont residents. Many people still choose burial, as the last act of seeing their loved one descend into eternal rest is significant and offers closure that cremation may not be able to match. The trend of cremation continues to grow. Regardless of which option you choose for yourself or a loved one, the opportunity for saying goodbye with a gathering remains the same. Take the time to think through your and your family’s wishes, concerns and beliefs before deciding which makes you feel at peace.
- Shop around: One of the questions we are asked quite frequently is, “Do all funeral homes charge the same price?” The short answer is yes, in a given area.. That said, just comparing the bottom line costs from different funeral homes will not give the clearest picture of how they charge. One funeral home may have lower fees for caskets or urns, but they will charge more for arranging third-party services such a plot in a cemetery or placing the obituary in local publications. Therefore, we encourage doing your due diligence when choosing a funeral provider to assist with your end-of-life wishes.
- Don’t forget about you: Part of your wishes should include the “vibe” of whatever service you choose. Decide what music will be played during a memorial or in a service. Provide the photos you’d like displayed and which videos should be viewed and enjoyed. Who should speak or sing and which readings or poems would you like included?
There are many things to consider and decisions to make when it comes to planning a funeral for yourself. The correct decisions, though, are the ones that are going to give peace of mind during your life and a respectful closure after you’ve passed. Whatever direction you choose to take when planning your own funeral, we are available to offer any assistance you may require. Here’s a funeral planning checklist to get you into the right headspace.
And, remember, talking about death does not make you morbid. It makes you thoughtful and aware of the challenges your family will face once you’re gone. Planning your end-of-life services is the final gift you can bestow upon your family and friends.