Much as you might like to spare your loved ones pain and trouble, the days following your death will be exceedingly difficult for them. There’s one thing you can do, though, to make even that painful time significantly less stressful: Plan your funeral now. (A convenient way is to click on our pre-planning form.)
Even if you don’t pay for your arrangements ahead of time (as many reasons as there for that, too), every question you answer, every document you provide, every detail you decide means one less potential source of stress and friction for your family after your passing. It lets them concentrate on grieving well and comforting each other instead of making difficult choices at one of the worst possible times.
But I, but I …
Let’s be grownups: We all have an expiration date; we just don’t have the privilege of knowing what it is. Planning your funeral won’t jinx your expected lifespan any more than buying life insurance, a new set of tires, or green bananas – and there’s nothing spooky about it unless you choose it to be so.
It can even be enjoyable. How? Planning your own memorial prompts you to think about what you want yet to experience and accomplish. It may give you the focus to adjust relationships, change careers, return to school, pursue spiritual peace, run for office, travel ancestral homelands, be a devoted volunteer, and a hundred other worthwhile things. It can also be gratifying to recall goals you have already achieved, people you’ve loved, adventures you’ve had, and insights you might want to share from it all.
Probably the most legitimately daunting part of planning your own funeral is how many details must be decided. Among the big ones are these:
• Traditional burial or cremation
• Choosing a casket (or, in the case of cremation, an urn)
• Funeral location (church building, funeral home, or somewhere else)
• Readings and music to be included
• Photos and mementos to be displayed
• Visitation vs. no visitation and viewing vs. no viewing (Even if cremation will be your final disposition, a viewing can precede the cremation.)
• Military honors, if applicable
• Burial site (if cremation, who keeps ashes, or where they will be buried or scattered)
At your death, your family and executor will need a host of papers – including some pertinent to your funeral, such as military records and insurance. The rest may span from marriage and adoption records to investments, deeds, bank and brokerage account numbers, passwords, more insurance policies, and your will. Be sure to keep them in a safe but readily accessible place.
It’s been said often enough to be trite, but it’s no less true: Planning ahead is one of the most loving things you can do for your family.