Most of us will be charged with the overwhelming task of planning the funeral of a loved one. When that time comes, it will be our greatest hope to honor their wishes. Despite this, less than 1% of people know what their family members want for their final resting place, according to a survey SunLife, a U.K.-based insurance provider.
“When you have a child sitting here wondering what his or her parent would have wanted, or a husband with no idea whether his wife would have wanted cremation or burial, it puts an enormous amount of stress on families,” said Lane Massey, funeral director for Coleman Funeral Home.
Ashley Bowlan, funeral director for Coleman Funeral Home, says not speaking to your loved ones about their wishes not only causes the family more stress, but could actually delay the funeral arrangements.
“Families are found sitting at the arrangement conference looking back and forth at other family members asking the same questions over and over,” said Bowlan. “They often spend hours looking all over for any information that may have been written down about their loved, one causing everything to be delayed. Also, when family members live out of town, many decisions are put on hold until everyone can arrive.”
To lessen the emotional burden and plan for the financial stress that comes with making these decisions, it is essential that family members have the challenging end-of-life conversations with their parents and spouse.
“Getting the conversation started is often the hardest part,” said Massey. “Start by reassuring your family member that the conversation is coming from a place of love and wanting to ensure you understand their wishes.”
During the conversation, there are specific questions you will want to get answers to, including:
- Do you want to be buried or cremated?
- If cremated, where do you want your ashes placed or buried?
- If buried, where would you like to be buried?
- What type of funeral or memorial service would you prefer?
- Is there particular music or specific flowers you would like?
- In lieu of flowers, is there a specific organization that people may contribute to instead?
If your family member is open to it, this conversation can include making specific choices about the casket they would like to be buried in or the plot where they would like to be buried.
“If you need more guidance during this discussion, pre-need counselors can guide you through these tough decisions,” Massey said.
Family members are also encouraged to use Coleman’s eFuneral services. This new online pre-planning tool allows families and individuals to select their service package, casket or urn, burial vault and complete payment. It is also a helpful resource for families who want a better idea of the decisions they will need to make, as well as the cost.
“Having these conversations can be uncomfortable,” Massey said. “Doing so, however, will provide peace of mind for you and your family.”