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It's not really a funeral plan if it's not at the funeral home

Published: August 16, 2019

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It’s fair to state that funerals stick in the mind of a loved one years after a death. It’s important that you get it right. Please don’t put your wishes in the drawer with the rest of your files. Oh, and that thing where you tell the kids what you want. That’s not the best either.   

Here’s what often happens: 

The funeral plan in the file - It might be part of the estate plan or stuck in with the financial advisor’s paperwork, or just written on some paper. It is highly likely that it will not be found until well after the funeral is over. In the hours following a death there are literally more than a hundred things to do. The list exists and people count this stuff. There is a lot to do over a short period of time when someone dies. Your family will not be going through the files.   

They will not know you wanted to wear your blue dress and that you wanted The Wind Beneath My Wings sung at your funeral. They just won’t. So, imagine the anguish when they find your “plan” two weeks after the funeral service is over.   

Imagine how they are going to feel when they realize they buried you in the wrong dress and sang the wrong song. Terrible. That’s how they will feel.  Sadly, they’ll feel that way for a very long time.  

You’ve told your kids what you want - Seems like it will be ok, but maybe not.  A woman and her two sisters have not been on speaking terms since their mother died. Seems everyone heard something different from mom regarding what she wanted. The twins heard she didn’t care, just “do what you want”. So, when mom died visiting one of them, a Southern Baptist service was arranged. That service stunned Martha who was raised Catholic and heard mom say she wanted “a service just like the one we did for your dad.”  

Call the funeral home, make an appointment and get everything written down and on file at the funeral home. It’s easy and there is no charge for the appointment.

Cheap funerals

Published: August 9, 2019

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Funerals, like everything from paper towels to cars, come in cheap and expensive. It’s not as easy as you might think to figure out what qualifies as cheap when it comes to funerals. This is due, in part, because we don’t all have the same idea of what a “funeral” is. For some folks, a funeral includes a gathering of friends and family the evening before, a trip to the church with the body, a graveside committal service and a luncheon for all attendees following the burial. 

When families begin to talk about the cost of a funeral, they need to include all the hardware (casket and vault) that goes with all these steps and sometimes the real estate (burial plot) as well. For sure, you know that what you choose to eat for lunch is going to make a difference in the price tag. So, the first thing a person needs to do when shopping for cheap funerals is have a talk with the decision makers in the family and decide what you are looking for in a funeral. What does your family want, need, and expect?

That done, you gotta know cheap is cheap. Think about those paper towels. You don’t have the same experience with the cheap paper towels as you do with ones that cost a bit more. If you are paying significantly less, you should expect less. Less staff with less education, less time spent with you and your family, less support. You should expect less to be included in the cost you were quoted and more to cost extra, over and above the cost you were quoted. So, in the end cheap funerals, like cheap paper towels (where you end up using twice as much), can cost MORE.

That does not mean that you can’t find a good value. Talk to your local funeral director. Instead of calling on the phone and asking, “How much does a funeral cost?”, call and ask for a meeting. Go in prepared with what you want in a funeral, share your budget. Be honest and clear about what you want and need. Also bear in mind, you aren’t really looking for cheap funerals - plural. You are looking for a one-time experience (one funeral) to honor the life of someone close to you. Look for value not cheap. If you are looking for a cheap funeral for yourself remember the funeral is for the living, the family and friends. The burial itself is the only part that is for the individual who died.

Thinking about skipping the funeral?

Published: August 2, 2019

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Are you considering going to a funeral? Will you be a guest or, are you the survivor in charge and deciding if there will even be a funeral? Either way, before you just skip the funeral perhaps you should consider how elephants behave when one of their species dies. Perhaps we have something to learn from Dumbo.  

First of all, elephants are very busy mammals. Just like us, they have to work hard to keep life together. An elephant needs to spend nearly 20 hours per day looking for and eating food. However, they do take time to honor their dead. It is rare to see an elephant in the wild stand still. However, when they happen upon the remains of an elephant, they seem to understand they need to stop and take a minute to pay homage.   

Elephants have a natural curiosity about death. They seem to understand that somehow death is connected to their own existence. They use their trunks to fondle the bones of the deceased. They are still and strangely quiet. They raise one foot and paw the air, they are gentle, and they shed tears.  

Elephants, like humans, have very strong social bonds. They help one another. A funeral is an opportunity for people to gather and be still. It is our opportunity to pay homage to our human existence. It’s a safe place to shed a tear, give a hug, or tell a story. A funeral, in any one of many forms, is an opportunity to reach out to our fellow man and give or receive help and comfort. 

There is still a lot of debate regarding whether or not elephants feel emotion. Some think yes and others are equally convinced emotion is exclusive to humans. So maybe we humans should embrace our emotion and just feel it? Having a funeral doesn’t make you sad. You are sad because someone has died. That sad emotion won’t go away just because you skip the funeral. The funeral is actually the first step in the long journey to feeling better.

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