Sunday, February 24, 2019

Why I'm An Advocate of Pre-Planned Funerals

I'm going to let you in on a little secret....You're gonna die. 

Harsh as it sounds, it's true.  Of all medical advances we've made, immortality isn't one of them. 

I don't have any worldly tips or advice on how to go about with a pre-planned funeral.  All states and family dynamics are different.  What I do have are two stories about why I'm an advocate for pre-planned funerals. 

The first involved my father.  He passed away in 2005 from cancer, just three months after being diagnosed.  I was there the day he passed and, for some wild reason, I thought my mother would be the one going to the funeral home to make the plans.  After all, she was his partner.  I was hit with a hard reality check when she informed me it wasn't up to her.  Although they'd gotten back together after being divorced for over 20 years, they weren't married or legal in the state's eyes.  It was up to me and my three sisters. 

So there it was.  The fighting started before we even made it to the funeral home.  Where was dad going to be buried?  I had no clue, but others had their opinions of where they thought he wanted his final resting place to be.  It was a source of huge contention.  Who were going to be the pallbearers?  Was he going to be cremated or buried?  No one knew for sure. 

We made it to the funeral home the next day and the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  Shoot, we didn't even know how much life insurance he had.  My oldest sister, Kandy (who was and is still the epitome of evil) wanted to make all decisions.  After all, she was the oldest.  It was her right!  I finally looked across the table at her and said "If, after all is said and done, you want to disown us and never speak to us again, you're more than welcome.  But, until that time, act like like and adult."  She took my words to heart and hasn't spoke to me since. 

Because nobody knew the certainties of my father's wishes, he was buried in a country cemetery in the boothills of Missouri next to his ex-wife.  I lost a father and a sister. 

Fast forward to when my mother became ill and started living with me.  I was her full-time caregiver.  She knew she was sickly and wanted to go ahead with funeral arrangements...while she was still alive.  It kind of creeped me out at first but we went at it with a sense of humor.  I asked my siblings to come along on the day of, but they were not having it.  They didn't care that mom and I did it, but they didn't want to think about her death and the whole process of deciding her funeral.

It took a few visits to get all paperwork finalized, but mom and I turned her life insurance policies over to the funeral home.  We went over all details, from the flowers to the pallbearers to the songs to be played.  She and I then went to the coffin showcase downstairs and picked out what she'd be buried in.  We laughed back and forth about it.  Did she want a pink or grey coffin?  Oak or cedar?  Was a vault necessary?  She kept asking my opinion and I'd answer with, "I don't care.  You're the one that's going to be laying in it for eternity!"  It wasn't a fun time but we made light of the situation. 

When mom finally did pass and I went to the funeral home, I had 10 other family members in tow.  While I appreciated their emotional support, most of the details had already been planned out.  In our time of grief, we didn't have to sit in a funeral home for hours discussing such serious plans back and forth. 

Looking back on it now, I'm glad mom and I pre-planned her funeral.  There was no bickering or squabbling.  I would've swore she wanted to be buried in her hometown, where her closest relatives are buried.  Because she and I talked in length about her death, I learned that she actually wanted to be buried in the town where her kids live (and we still do) so we could have access to visit her grave when we wanted.  That never would have happened if I hadn't discussed it with her.  There was no questions about life insurance policies and who she had them with.  We went over it ahead of time and the funeral was already prepared with that info.

Losing a loved one isn't easy.  Talking about death is somewhat taboo.  But I highly recommend going over the details while your'e still alive so those who are affected when the time comes have a lot less to worry about.

What's your take on pre-planned funerals?
Is it something you've ever considered?


jjmon2012 said...

Totally agree with you. Don't know if it's a southern thing but mothers is done. About 15+ years ago my mother asked me and my sister to come to visit her. She told us we had a appointment to take care of her funeral plans. We had a blast we laughed, joked and I think we scared the funeral director. My mother was going on and on that she wanted a red coffin I told I would spray paint it for her. After we left there she took us to the cemetery and showed us where and that she already had her stone placed. My mother is almost 90 and lives in WV with us now but she will be going home to TN when the times comes. And as she says its all done no stress for us.