We hear so often about funeral planning, and how it can ease the financial and emotional burdens of the loved ones we leave behind. The reasons to do a funeral pre-plan or pre-payment are many, and it’s an option that an increasingly large portion of the population are choosing for their own families. Whether you wish to lock in today’s funeral costs, you want ensure that you have funds earmarked for burial, or you simply want to secure a cemetery site to share with family members, making burial arrangements ahead of time makes good sense.
However, one of the most often overlooked advantages to funeral planning in advance is how much it allows you to control the way you will be remembered. The legacy you leave behind is one of the most powerful and lasting gifts you can give, and if it’s important to you to get it right, funeral planning with a focus on ceremonies and events could be the perfect solution.
The amount of funeral planning you do for the details is entirely up to your comfort level. Some individuals are happy to consider everything from their music and funeral flower choices to who will give their eulogy during the funeral planning process, while others might want to focus more on the location of the burial arrangements or the amount of money they wish to spend on the ceremony. Most funeral planning companies have options for hands-on preparation work as well as a place to simply organize your finances: you simply have to ask and do as much funeral planning as you’re comfortable with.
Some of the top considerations include:
• Embalming and/or body viewing
• Burial method (cremation or interment)
• Clothing and jewelry choices
• Additional items to be buried with you
• Type of casket
• Location of the burial and memorial ceremony
• Type of ceremony
• Religious or ceremonial official to preside over the ceremony
• Music, flowers, photos, and poems
• Obituary options
• Seating arrangements
• Special burial options (e.g., military or professional organizations)
• Donations or special organizations to be included
• Gravesite markers
• The type and location of wake and/or celebration following the funeral
How to settle your will and other legal issues
The extent to which you settle these issues depends on your particular funeral planning and the degree to which you’d like to control the memory you leave behind.
What About a Living Wake?
One way in which people can attend to all their funeral planning is to have a living wake. Considered grotesque by some and fun by others, this event is just like a normal wake or funeral ceremony – but done while you’re still alive.
Living wakes are most popular among those who have terminal illnesses, and wish to gather their family and friends for a final goodbye before the moment of death. While there is nothing wrong with this type of celebration, it’s important to undertake it for the right reasons (celebration, honor, joy), and to get the consent of your family first. It might be amusing to you to participate in this final ceremony, but as with all types of funeral planning, those you love will also be affected, and you should keep in mind their reactions and desires.
Of course, it will never be possible to make everyone happy, regardless of if you leave all the funeral planning to your loved ones after your passing, or if you prepare a funeral planning checklist that outlines all your wishes. Death is never easy, and although you can ease the transition, you’ll never be able to fully control grief and all its outcomes.