More than one person has remarked that planning a funeral requires no less effort than organizing a wedding, but you only have a couple of days to do it. For a traditional funeral there’s selecting an officiant, ordering flowers, notifying family and friends, preparing an obituary, securing a spot for a post funeral mercy meal, and gathering pictures, music and other display items to honor your loved one. This is to say nothing of the copious data one must collect for legal requirements.
Recently Amber M. Ditomasso, Funeral Director and Certified Preplanning Consultant at Miles made the absolute best case for pre-arranging a funeral I have ever heard when she declared, “There are approximately 100 decisions and pieces of information that need to be gathered in a very short time, within a couple of days.” That comment has remained in my mind as one of the best reasons to stop procrastinating if you are inclined to pre-plan your funeral. As a director who does both at need and pre-need work with families, she sees the enormous advantage for survivors when the deceased has pre-planned. Grieving survivors whose deceased loved ones pre-planned are able to address their own needs and emotions, because they are not feverishly looking for social security numbers, birth certificates and other vital information. Indeed, what pre-need advisors hear more than any other reason from people who pre-plan is that they want to spare their survivors added stress at the time of their death.
A majority of Americans believe funerals and memorial services are a valuable and important part of healing after the death of a loved one – and that funeral professionals can help them meaningfully honor a life – according to the results of a nationwide online survey conducted from March 31 – April 10, 2015, among 1,238 U.S. adults age 40+ and 305 U.S. adults aged 20-39 by Harris Poll on behalf of the Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FAMIC). Eighty-nine percent of respondents felt a discussion about their end-of-life wishes would be meaningful, 69% indicated they would prefer to pre-arrange their own service and 82% of people over the age of forty say that a funeral service helps pay tribute to the life of a friend or family member. The most important finding though of the survey is “While funerals and memorial services may be different from what they were 25 years ago when we first began surveying consumers, the fact remains that memorialization is important when a loved one dies,” said Jeffrey Wages, a funeral director who serves as president of FAMIC. “And much like they did 25 years ago, consumers trust funeral directors to provide compassionate guidance and service during a very difficult time.” (FAMIC website)
There are some practical reasons for pre-planning one’s funeral such as avoiding grief-spending, guaranteeing prices for goods and services the funeral home provides, protecting funeral funds from Medicaid spend down, having control of how you are memorialized, and ensuring there are no complications in carrying out your wishes. A good example of a complication is an unnecessary delay in cremation because information for a death certificate cannot be located.
Pre-planning a funeral can be done in one’s home, at the funeral home or through a zoom meeting. Most importantly each of these methods gives you the time to gather all the vital information needed. A pre-planning consultant can also assist with legacy resources, such as sample memorials or outlines for writing a good obituary. Pre-need consultants collaborate closely with celebrants, legacy writers and other professionals that can assist with designing the best memorial for you.
Conveying yet another good reason to pre-plan one woman say, “I am doing this because I don’t remember a second of my husband’s death and memorial, I don’t remember that week of my life.” She reminds us that grief often overwhelms those trying to plan, experience and memorialize a loved one. So go ahead, stop procrastinating, become one of the 16.5 million people who have pre-planned their funeral. It is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your survivors.
A good time to start is now, a good place to begin is with easy our online pre-arrangement form:
Amber will answer the most commonly asked questions about pre-arrangement in the next blog, to be published January 27th.