Why pre-plan my funeral arrangements?
A few days ago when my cousin learned I was working at Miles Funeral Home she said, “O, I have been meaning to go there and pre-plan my arrangements; I’ve got to get to that.” I cannot count the number of times someone has said something similar to me, and like my cousin, they just keep putting it off. I was one of them until a few years ago when my procrastination was stressing me out more than the idea of going to a funeral home. Needless to say, I did it, and Miles made it so easy, I would even characterize it as “enjoyable”.
I am no stranger to talking about life and death; what I didn’t realize was the great opportunity pre-planning my death care would offer to talk about what matters now, in my living. When my friend and I made our final arrangements it was a conversation about what is important to us now, not simply our death care. We spoke of our philosophy, what makes us happy, what makes life meaningful. That day, I learned that talking about what truly matters to you is where memorializing you begins.
Another thing I hadn’t realized is that my after-life arrangements are not for me, so what I wanted was not really important. I walked into the funeral home sure of what I did and didn’t want, I left having arranged what will help my best friend heal and begin a healthy grieving process. I left grateful for the education, the countless options, the freedom to choose something that satisfied my philosophy, honor my life and took care of the person I most love.
I entered the conversation saying, “I definitely don’t want a wake or visitation”. It seemed unnecessary, over the top, a waste of people’s time and money. Then the funeral director asked my best friend with whom I have lived for almost 50 years, “Pauline, if Pam dies before you, will it be easier for you to receive people’s sympathies one-on-one, like in the supermarket or through a phone call, or would you rather have a couple of hours, when you are available and they come to you in those hours?” Without hesitation she said, “the latter”. The thought of meeting people, being taken off guard, having to face it over and over without warning, was too much for her. What if it is a tough day, and they don’t know it, and they meet her in the market and say, “I am so sorry, I heard about Pam?” So, you can guess what happened, without any hesitation I said, “Well then, I guess I am having a wake.” This was only one of the revelations I had during the pre-planning process. Had I known how much I would learn, how good I would feel about my life, and how easy it is to pre-plan one’s funeral arrangements, I would have attended to it long before I did.
No one, not even death care professionals, relish the thought of their own death. Thankfully, we are hard-wired to live. The best part of pre-planning is that when the time does come to honor your life, those responsible for your death care, will be grateful and relieved that they are doing things exactly as you would want! Pre-planning gives you ultimate control and the last word.
In future blogs, I will offer some basic information about the pre-planning process. Miles Funeral Home has an excellent director who specializes in pre-need, Maureen Monahan. She can be reached at 508-829-4434. You can also find out more or begin the online process on our website.