Funeral Planning 101
Fortunately, most of us are novices at planning a funeral. We’ve all had loved ones die, but others have handled the ‘arrangements.’ Others have made the decisions and explored the options. Others have written the eulogy and planned the service.
We would like to provide you with a bit of guidance and information on funeral planning. None of it is new or revolutionary. It is just, for the most part, unknown to people like you and me.It is very possible (probable) that, eventually, you will be called on to plan a funeral or memorial service or celebration of life. If so, that means you have lost someone close to you. We are so sorry for your loss or impending loss.
Let’s answer a few of the more typical questions people have:
If a person is cremated, can he/she still have a funeral service?
Yes – and most do. Cremation, burial or entombment in a crypt are the typical methods of dealing with a person’s body after death. With any of these methods a family can choose to have (or not have) a funeral, memorial service or celebration of life.
Some people choose cremation for financial reasons, believing it is less expensive since they don’t have to have the expense of a funeral or memorial service. However, most families end up spend just as much with a cremation as they would for a traditional funeral or memorial service.
What is the Downside to Cremation?
The obvious downside to scattering your loved one’s ashes instead of having a burial is that there is no specific ‘place’ where family can go to visit. They can go to the lakeshore where the ashes were scattered or the mountains, but there is a legitimate sense that there is no longer any trace of the loved one there. Or, if the ashes are scattered on the family homestead, what is the emotional impact on the family if/when the property changes hands?
Is Pre-Paying funeral costs a good idea?
Simply stated – YES. If you can afford to pre-pay for funeral costs, you are paying with today’s dollars and costs. If you should live another 20 – 30 years, prices will have, most likely, gone up significantly. At that point, pre-paid funeral costs will save your estate and your loved ones significantly. A funeral may be the only thing you can have delivered in the future for the prices today.
Be sure to keep all paperwork and documentation in a safe and accessible location. Without it, funeral homes may not be able to honor the contract – especially if the funeral home has changed hands or been passed on to the next generation.
What Part of Funeral Planning Do People Find Most Difficult?
#1 – Indecision. The decisions made for a funeral or memorial service are the final ones made on behalf of a loved one. There is considerable stress to get it right.
Indecision, of course, comes from the fact that there hasn’t been proper communication. The family simply doesn’t know because you (or the passed loved one) hasn’t spelled it out in specific and sometimes not even in general terms. This causes those who need to make the decisions to feel as though they are ‘winging it’ or that they are being self-centered in that their decisions are what THEY want and not the one they’ve lost.
On the other side of the coin is the funeral that has been ‘over-planned.’ Another difficult situation is when the deceased over-planned their funeral, leaving such detailed instructions that getting it just right is nearly impossible – and sometimes doesn’t minister to the needs of the living. The only one who gets it ‘their way’ is the one not actually present.
Then, too, there is family dynamics in funeral planning. Temperaments and personalities clash and some don’t want to make waves while others have no problem being the wrench in the works. It is truly tragic when funeral planning divides a family and causes divisions that may last decades or lifetimes.
How Much Does a Funeral Cost?
Funeral prices vary widely. It’s like buying a house. A simple cottage is relatively inexpensive, but a house on a lake with a pontoon boat at the dock, can break the bank. It all depends on how elaborate you want a funeral to be and how many ‘extras’ you include.
In Michigan, where I live, the current average price of a funeral is $8000. That, of course, takes the most basic funeral into account as well as the most expensive. When you start adding things like newspaper announcements and obituaries, professional eulogy writers, visitation with food, printed programs, musicians, hearse, and flowers, the cost, naturally, increases significantly.
Steve Schafer is the founder of TheEulogyWriters and is probably the most prolific eulogy writer (and, no doubt, the best) anywhere. He lives in Michigan and has been writing eulogies for well over thirty years. The articles in this blog are designed to help people through the process of losing loved ones.