Most of us don’t want to think about the end, but lets face it – no one’s getting out of here alive. We put together this list to make sure you’re prepared for the expected and the unexpected.
For centuries the funeral procession has taken place with 3 common threads for body disposition and death.
- Some type of ceremony, funeral rite or ritual
- A sacred place for body disposition
- Memorial for the deceased
But just like death, change is inevitable. Our culture evolves relative to the economy, technological innovations and the influence of new traditions. Funerals had to adapt to meet the changing demands of our time.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself as you start planning your end-of-life celebration:
?Where do I want to have my end celebration?
Depending on your preference, you have quite a few options for your end celebration location. Traditional locations often include a church, graveside, a funeral home, or a ceremony in your home. Non-traditional venues include a park, beach or winery.
?What kind of end-of-life celebration do I want?
Religion, culture and belief system are the stepping-stones in choosing your end-of-life-celebration grounded on what properly represents the life you lived. This can include an end celebration: some type of ceremony, funeral rite or ritual or a traditional memorial and funeral.
A more “Out of the Box”end-of-life celebration consists of customized coffins with personalized engravings, Harley Davidson Hearsts, guests wearing costumes, dancing, musicians playing favorite songs of the deceased, a highly lighthearted and upbeat end-of-life festivities. (Link to previous article). In New Orleans, musicians have been known to send off the dead through a somber-turned-upbeat jazz funeral where grieving families bring in props that reflect how people lived their lives. You only die once, have fun and make it your own.
?What about the availability of environmentally friendly or “green” burials?
Green funerals or “natural” burials are also very popular. Eco-friendly funerals use materials that have less impact on the environment. Natural Burials are eco-friendly funeral alternatives where the body is wrapped in a shroud or placed in a biodegradable casket so they naturally decompose. Cremation is the most popular form of body disposal since environmental awareness has permeated our culture. In 2011, 42% of people who passed chose to be cremated, according to the funeral directors association. (See more Green burial options here) Link to Green is the New Black Infographic.
?What funeral provider should I use?
Most people chose a funeral home in their town of residence. We suggest you talk to a couple providers to make sure they’re right for your beliefs, needs and budget. If you don’t already have a funeral home in mind you can find a trusted one here (link to provider search). Reminder: It’s the funeral director’s job to help make this process as easy on you as possible.
Who should I invite to my end celebration?
First thing’s first, make a list of people you want to attend your celebration. Select who you want to be apart of the funeral service. This includes pallbearers, readers, performers, etc. And make sure to choose someone to deliver the eulogy (link to definition).
?What do I want my obituary to say about me?
This can be a fun ending to a somewhat gloomy process. What do you want your obituary to say about you? Be creative.
?What am I legally required to buy and how much is it all going to cost?
Whether you are generally a proactive planner or last minute procrastinator, you will need to deal with death eventually. It is best to be prepared. Setting a budget may seem like quite an undertaking but there are multiple ways how you can be prepared. For Example you can set up a life insurance policy or savings account available to your loved ones. When you pass it lifts the emotional and financial burden that accompanies their loss. Another option is Funeral Insurance. Once you decide on your funeral provider, be sure to ask them about funeral insurance. When you choose your funeral insurance plan, research and compare policies to make sure you understand the goods and services you’re paying for. Each funeral home has unique pricing and provisions on the insurance they offer.
Services to Plan For Your End-of-life Celebration:
Every funeral director provides a written statement of the goods and services you have purchased and the price of each. The Funeral Rule, provides you with the rights to pay for goods and services that you want or need and compares prices among funeral homes.
Below is a standard list of goods and services you might want to consider purchasing:
- Urn (Required if you choose cremation)
- Casket/Coffin (Required if you choose burial)
- Catering (Optional)
- Flowers (Optional)
- Music (Optional)
- Limo (Optional)
- Videographer (Optional)
- Photographer (Optional)
Final Thought: Make sure to store your important documents and instructions in one place
Whether you plan for your own funeral or for a loved one, the instructions for the funeral service should be located in your end-of-life planning documents. It’s important that your loved ones are aware of the location of these very important documents. These documents consist of things like, your life insurance policy, funeral insurance, estate plan or will. You can keep these documents in a safety deposit box, home safe, with your attorney, or with the chosen funeral home.
Although this process might seem overwhelming at first, planning ahead is a great way to make sure your family’s taken care off and you end up with an end celebration that represents the life you lived.