When you think about planning a funeral, you might envision yourself saying goodbye to a loved one or an aging parent. Few people enjoy thinking about their own funerals — but planning ahead for your own service is a good thing to do.
Knowing how to handle the day as well as the other aspects involved (such as estate planning if you have a complicated will, extensive property, or a large family) will help your family move forward and give them a roadmap for this difficult time ahead. Begin making a plan with the four tips below, and don’t hesitate to express your wishes to your family as soon as possible.
1. Talk About Uncomfortable Details
Will you choose cremation or a casket? Do you want to be buried next to your family members, or have you already purchased a plot you haven’t told your family members about? Or, will you opt for a newer form of burial. One such method is human composting, which involves using the body as nourishment for plants. Another option is aquamation, which uses water and alkali to break down the body into its basic elements. While these options may not be right for everyone, they offer a more sustainable alternative for those who are interested in exploring new options for burial.
Sit down with your family — this could be your adult children, grandchildren, or your spouse — and discuss your wishes as well as the practicalities you’ve already thought of. You may wish to channel your own feelings into theatre, art, or journaling.
2. Write Your Will
You don’t have to own a grand estate or be a millionaire to have a solid legal will on hand. Download a template if you’re stuck and begin expressing your wishes for your estate, belongings, and finances after your death. Express your wishes for burial or cremation as well.
Sign it and have it notarized as soon as possible to allow your belongings to pass to those you’ve chosen. If you don’t, an estate sale may be inevitable where your assets are liquidated, and your property is sold to the highest bidder.
3. Hold Off on Paying
You may have chosen your casket and decided where your family should hold the actual service, but you don’t need to put down a deposit just yet. There’s no point in exhausting your finances to pay for a funeral without a set date. You can set money aside in an account for a beneficiary to use the money to pay for funeral expenses, or you can simply express your wishes for these choices in your will.
It is a good idea to shop around, compare prices, and know how much everything will cost so that you don’t leave your family scrambling at the last minute. The average funeral, according to experts, costs over $7,000. It’s entirely possible to save money when you think ahead and compare prices before the day comes.
4. Visit a Counselor
If you’re planning ahead for your own funeral because you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, it may make your loved ones sad and anxious when you bring up even the most practical of funeral plans. A counselor who specializes in dying, grief, and loss can help your family navigate this extremely difficult time. Older adults who are very close to their children and grandchildren may consider this as an option as well when looking to the future.
Nobody wants to talk about death and dying. However, funerals are a normal part of life, and they’re often necessary for your grieving loved ones to process your death. Planning ahead for the inevitable can help things run more smoothly when everyone’s emotions are preventing them from thinking rationally. You’re doing your family a favor by bringing this up now.
Through TheWidow.net, Sara Bailey shares her unexpected and ongoing journey of losing her husband and learning to be the best parent (and person) she can be while nurturing her grief. She is also the author of the upcoming book Hope and Help After Loss: A Guide For Newly Widowed Parents.