We don’t expect everyone to jump at the chance to plan their own funeral, but it’s something to consider for a few reasons:
- To remove some of the logistical stress off of your family. It’s an emotional time, and there are so many important and expensive decisions to make; any guidance you offer will be reassuring and greatly appreciated.
- To alleviate the financial burden: While you might not be able to pre-pay for the entire funeral, you can save your family from paying for things you don’t want (examples: less expensive casket, cremation instead of burial).
- To ensure you get the kind of funeral you want. It’s common for each family member to have different ideas of what you would have wanted, and grief can easily manifest into bickering, so do everything you can to make it as peaceful as possible for those wishing you were still around.
Don’t feel pressured to plan it down to the last detail. While some people are perfectly fine planning their own funeral, it’s understandable if you find it too difficult. But even the most basic suggestions -- like the size of the funeral, or where you’d like donations to go in lieu of flowers -- can save your family a lot of unnecessary heartache and hassle. In fact, if you only answer this one question you’ll be helping your family tremendously: What do you want done with your body? You have three options:
Each one of these options takes you down a different path. To avoid confusion you need to tell someone your ultimate preference. Even if you don’t care what’s done with your body, you need to make that clear so your family knows the decision will fall on them.
A longtime funeral industry expert put it perfectly when he told us “A funeral isn’t just about what you’re doing with the body, it’s about the person’s life.” Just because someone doesn’t want to go in the ground doesn’t mean they don’t want their life celebrated with a service or some other form of memorial. Cremation or burial is just a means of disposition; the important thing is how your family and friends get to say goodbye.
With that in mind, your task is to think about these three options and which one you’d choose. If you’re not sure, that’s fine. We cover all the funeral in-and-outs in upcoming tasks. If you’ve already decided then those upcoming tasks will help you make your plans a reality.