Why Arranging Your Own Funeral is the Ultimate Act of Love
Many people view planning their own funeral as rather macabre, but when you consider the alternative of leaving it to bereaved family members, the uncomfortable feelings this type of pre-planning brings pale in comparison.
Regardless of your age, arranging your own funeral is something that you should be thinking about now. As we all know, death is the only certainty in life and it could come at any time, so really there’s no time like the present to think about what you want.
That said, although a pre-planned funeral leaves your family in good stead to deal with your passing, not everyone will be on board with your plan!
Discussing your own death with friends and family members is rarely a topic which is well-received; realistically, your loved ones do not want to think about your death, let alone what will happen after.
Those who do find themselves in a situation in which their family will not discuss their wishes for arrangements can tackle it in a couple of ways. Your first option is to plan your funeral and leave detailed instructions and information for your family to find upon your death.
You don’t have to tell your family you’ve planned your funeral, but you must remember that you must do the paperwork to designate a specific person to look after your funeral arrangements.
You would be wise to tell at least this person that you’ve organized everything in advance as your loved ones are unlikely to go through your personal effects immediately after you’ve passed; you don’t want them organizing a funeral because they aren’t aware that you already have done so!
The second option, and probably the best way, is to attempt to re-enter the conversation more equipped to deal with their objections.
Normalizing death is actually the first step to ensuring you’re more prepared to cope with grief. There is a positive death movement which encourages people to openly talk about death for that very reason.
Making your loved ones understand your reasons for pre-arranging your funeral is perhaps the first step to helping them accept your wishes to plan your funeral now.
Here are 5 reasons why arranging your own funeral is the ultimate act of love!
1. Arranging Your Own Funeral Helps Friends and Family Better Cope With Their Grief After Your Death
The death of a loved one is one of the most harrowing experiences many of us will experience in our lives. Yet during this already-trying time, we’re often forced to face another of lives’ most stressful moments: organizing a funeral.
Grief manifests in a multitude of ways, but vulnerability underpins all of them. With the huge task of planning to send off a loved one with dignity and respect, the pressure to get things right exposes these vulnerabilities, compounding the emotional turmoil we are already undergoing.
At a time when all we want to do is hide from the world so we can make sense of what has happened and understand our feelings, we are thrust into a cruel situation where we are forced to make important decisions.
For most, the decision to get out of bed is hard enough, so conjuring the cognitive power to chose how your loved one will spend their final moments is nigh-on impossible.
It’s something people rarely consider until they are in the situation and it’s too late, but having to plan a funeral can make grieving more difficult.
That said, it’s not an inevitable part of the process. You can spare your family from having to add to their pain once you have passed by arranging your own funeral well-before the time comes when it is needed.
2. Arranging Your Own Funeral Removes the Financial Burden
Funerals are not cheap. If you’ve ever planned a funeral, you have probably been surprised at the vast number of costs associated with them. Not only that, the individual costs of the various elements needed for a funeral are rarely considered before you are charged with organizing one.
It can come as a shock to people that the average cost of a burial casket is around $2,400 while cremation caskets and cremation urns can cost $1,275.
The National Funeral Directors Association puts the average cost of a funeral at $7,360 and $8,755 if a vault is needed. The average American simply does not have that kind of money readily available and even if you have left some money to them in your will, they are not likely to receive that before they need to pay for your funeral.
Breaking it down, here is a list of expenses your family will need to pay for your funeral if you don’t:
- Nondeclinable basic services fee – $2,100
- Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home – $325
- Embalming – $725
- Other preparation of the body – $250
- Use of facilities/staff for viewing – $425
- Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony – $500
- Hearse – $325
- Service car/van – $150
- Basic memorial printed package – $160
- Metal casket – $2,400
- Vault – $1,395
- Cremation fee (if firm uses a third-party crematory) – $350
- Cremation casket – $1,000
- Urn – $275
According to a 2018 study by Northwestern Mutual, financial worries are the number one reason for stress in this country. By organizing and paying for your own funeral in advance, you can relive your loved ones of the financial stress an unexpected outlay can cause.
Furthermore, your loved ones are likely to want to ensure they choose only the very best for you, so the prices outlined above are, for some, going to be much higher.
Obviously, some costs are fixed – scrimping on embalming is not really an option – but if you do not care if you have the cheapest casket, don’t let your loved ones waste their money on the more expensive one.
Conversely, if the cheapest casket is all your family can afford, feelings of guilt that they couldn’t give you a beautiful send off can also creep in unnecessarily.
3. Arranging Your Own Funeral Removes the Burden From Your Loved Ones
When it comes to planning a funeral, a responsibility is placed on the shoulders of your loved ones, and it is often a responsibility that they would rather not have.
The weight of deciding on which funeral home to choose and deciding between burial or cremation can be overwhelming, especially when the mind is clouded by grief.
In reality, such decisions can be arbitrary and somewhat easy when you’re making them without being recently bereaved, so there is no reason you can’t make them yourself now.
Aside from making the call on the big decisions, your loved ones will have a number of other responsibilities after you’ve gone.
While these responsibilities do not involve them having to make a choice, they generally do mean having to meet with people to discuss the situation, you, and your wishes.
Before they can make decisions about the ceremony, they have to meet with the celebrant or relevant denominational representative. Before they choose a casket, they have to meet with a funeral director.
Before they organize catering, a venue or flowers, they have to talk to the respective people within those businesses.
While these might not seem like difficult tasks, grief can strip you of your voice and make the smallest of tasks feel like the hardest of challenges.
So, remove the challenges. Do the groundwork and make contact with these people before you go. It is vital you go with a company with a long history in business because you want to make sure they are still around when you go.
For some, it will be a little more difficult to specify particular vendors, especially if you’re young, healthy and are planning on living for decades to come!
4. Arranging Your Own Funeral Removes the Stress of Not Knowing What You Want
Making a decision is one thing, but when your loved ones are trying to make a decision based on what they think you want, the stress is amplified.
What’s more, the ongoing anguish of hoping they made the right decision is something that you would not want to put your family through.
Eventually, if you don’t tell them what you want in advance, your family will be forced to make decisions about every aspect of your funeral. The long-term effects of which should not be underestimated.
One huge area that people of never stop dwelling on is the type of funeral you have.
If they chose a burial, they forever wonder if you wanted to be cremated. If you are cremated, they wonder if you’re happy with their decision to keep your ashes in a keepsake urn or whether you want to them spread. And where?
It’s not just the big decisions either. From wondering if they picked the right song for your entrance to worrying about whether they dressed you in the outfit you would have picked for yourself, the endless list of doubts is completely removed if you organize your own funeral.
Why let your family members torture themselves over simple decisions that you’re easily able to make now?
5. Arranging Your Own Funeral Allows Your Loved Ones to Focus on Moving Forward
After the passing of a loved one, you do not move on, you simply move forward.
While we are often told that keeping busy is one of the best ways to handle grief, the form that ‘busyness’ takes is key; leaving the house for a coffee is a much better way to pass time than trying to choose pallbearers, for example.
Often, planning a funeral can delay the grieving process and act as a blocking method which stops people dealing with their feelings.
Generally, if a funeral is not pre-planned, this compartmentalizing of emotion is necessary so the bereaved can get the job at hand done. But it doesn’t mean it is healthy.
It can lead people into a false sense of security, thinking they are emotionally stable, only leading them to a difficult emotional breakdown once the funeral is over, or worse, much later.
You can remove this process of delayed grieving if you remove the responsibility of planning your funeral from your family.
By giving them clear and detailed instructions of your wishes and having paid for certain aspects of it, you allow the grieving process to take its course without interruption, disruption or temporary misdirection.
How to Plan Your Own Funeral
If you’ve made the decision to plan your own funeral, you may now be questioning where you should start.
Funerals are often planned in a rush, but by doing it in advance, you can take your time to make sure you get it just right. Here is a brief outline of the steps you need to take:
1. Designate Your Representative
Before you begin to make any preparations, you must do the paperwork (Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care) to designate a chosen person to be in charge of your funeral preparations. Without doing this, legally there is a hierarchy of people who can make decisions, including overruling yours!
2. Make the Big Decisions
Now, it’s time to make the decisions which are typically deemed the ‘big ones’. You’ll need to think about:
- Do you want to be buried or cremated?
- Do you want your ashes scattered?
- What kind of casket do you want?
- Who do you want to be your pallbearers?
3. Think About The Little Things
Now, the little details that really epitomize who you are and how you’d like to spend your final moments with friends and family:
- What music do you want?
- Do you want a eulogy or a poem ready? By who?
- What do you want to wear?
- Any other specific details that you want to make sure are included
4. Meet With Funeral Professional
Depending upon your age and the imminence of death (if you know), meeting with funeral professional may not be high on your agenda when you’re planning your funeral.
After all, if you still have 50 years to live, the likelihood of your funeral professional still being in business (or offering the same service) is not high.
That said, you can still put away money and write details about the types of funeral professional you would be happy with.
If you are older or you know that your death is no more than a few years away, meeting with funeral professionals, especially funeral directors and celebrants, is a great idea.
It means you can ask all the questions you need to in order to ensure you’re happy with the service you’ll be receiving for your send off and so you know your family will be well looked after following your passing.
Last Word on Arranging Your Own Funeral
We hope that we’ve convinced you that arranging your own funeral is not only a great act of love, it’s very doable with a little bit of legwork on your part.
Article kindly provided by Nat Juchems, the Marketing Director at Green Meadow Memorials.