Few people plan ahead for their own funeral or that of a loved one. Some of us are stopped by superstitious fears that by making funeral arrangements while someone is still living is just asking for trouble.
However, there are practical and considerate reasons for choosing to make funeral arrangements before it is absolutely necessary. When death greets us, we are rarely prepared – emotionally or from a practical standpoint. Making funeral arrangements now will help those you leave behind be better prepared and feel more at ease with the funeral arranging process.
Much of the confusion and, frankly, spending that comes with funeral arranging for someone recently deceased occurs because loved ones are often too overwhelmed with grief to feel confident in their decision making abilities. Rather than taking the time and careful consideration that they want to be able to take, they feel pressured to prepare the “prefect” final farewell for the deceased. This can lead to overspending and elaborate, unnecessary demonstrations of love for the recently passed.
The last minute details can be especially difficult. Who will speak at the funeral? Is there anything special or significant that the deceased would like to be buried with? If it’s an open casket, is there an outfit picked out? These and other small details are the ones that can become particularly confusing for someone overcome with grief.
By make your own funeral arrangements ahead of time, you can help limit the confusion for your loved ones. It can also be a very therapeutic exercise to envision and plan your own funeral.
Beyond the basic funeral arrangements of preferred method of burial (don’t feel obligated to pre-pay for burial space, though), location of funeral services, religious officiate and type of service, etc. you should also leave directions for the smaller details as well.
Here are some examples of other funeral arrangements that need to be addressed as well:
Is there particular music you would like played prior to the service, after the service, or even hymns sung during the service? Create a song list with specific instructions for when you would like the music played.
Are there people you would like to have speak at your funeral? Keep in mind that asking someone to speak at your funeral may be difficult for some, primarily because of their fear of speaking in front of large groups. If this is the case, you may decide to pick out a poem or passage from a religious text that means a lot to you. You should discuss your wishes with the person when you are pre-planning your funeral arrangements so that they are not taken off guard during their time of grief.
Some people don’t want their funerals to be sad or morose affairs. Instead they hope to have celebrate their time here with an upbeat and positive memorial service. If this is the case for you, then try to think of things that will help create that ambiance for your loved ones. Perhaps you can ask that everyone wear clothing supporting your favorite sports team, or everyone wears your favorite color. Or perhaps you choose a location for the services that is not typically associated with death and dying – like a local park.
A Message From You
A wonderful demonstration of your love for those you will leave behind is to leave a note or letter with your funeral arrangements to be read by someone during your funeral services, or included in the funeral program so that everyone can keep a copy of it. This should be a warm and compassionate memento, letting each person know how much they meant to you, and also providing an uplifting message that helps them come to terms with your loss.
It’s the small funeral arrangement details that are often the most difficult for loved ones to plan. Pre-planning your own funeral is a demonstration of your love and care for them, even after you’ve passed on.
Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl. She is a regular contributor to “Funeral Services Advice” and writes frequently on the topic of the planning of funeral arrangements.