Why preplanning a funeral is a gift of love

Prearranging a funeral is not about death at all; it's about protecting your family

People will often ask me, “Why should I even consider preplanning my funeral, let alone pay for it? It’s so morbid! We’re not sick or anything, and we’re not even that old.”
This is certainly a valid comment, and I understand the sentiment clearly. I personally understand that this is a difficult subject to discuss. After all, we’re talking about our own mortality. That’s difficult for me to discuss, and I’m a funeral director! However, it’s important to understand that this conversation is not about death at all. What it is about, is protection. Protecting your family just as you’ve done in countless other ways. This is no different.
Always remember this: Someone you love will have the responsibility of taking care of this when you die. This is not about you at all, it’s about them. Do you really believe that your kids or family members will be emotionally or financially prepared to deal with it? On the worst day of their life? My experience says they will not be.
Oh, they would get through it. Many people do. But if there were a way you could ease that burden from them, wouldn’t you want to learn about it? So that, even when you’re gone, you’re still helping them and providing a final gift of love?
I kid with people at times when I say, “I’m in the business of making sure your family continues to talk to each other when you’re gone.” Many families can become estranged during this process. It happened in my own family when my grandfather died. My mom and her brother, my Uncle Kenny, didn’t talk for 20 years due to unresolved issues related to Grandpop’s death. They finally did reconcile, said they were sorry, and loved each other. The unfortunate part is my uncle was on his death bed and died three days later. Look at all the time lost — very sad.
People preplan and prepay for primarily four reasons:

  1. For peace of mind
  2. To ease the burden on their family
  3. To make their own decisions
  4. To set money aside in advance

Back in 2000, I stopped by my mom’s house early one morning on my way to work. I knew she’d be up. She was always an early riser. We called it, “Coffee and Conversation,” and we loved and looked forward to it.
As we were talking, she suddenly said, “When we’re done, I want to plan and pay for my funeral.”
I responded, “When? Now?” 
She said, “Absolutely!”
I was slightly taken aback and proceeded to tell her not to worry about it. After all, I’m a funeral director, I’ll handle it. She insisted, so we did.

How to preplan a personalized funeral service

For context, I’m an only child. My parents split when I was 6 years old. I was raised by mom and my grandfather, her dad. Mom and I always had an incredible bond. She was and always will be my best friend.
We went to the funeral home, and mom planned her funeral. She wanted a traditional service at the Lutheran church where I was raised. She wanted some old Lutheran hymns mixed with Tom Jones songs (She loved the Welsh singer, especially the song, “She’s a Lady.”). She wanted to be buried in the family plot with a small graveside service.
The funeral at that time cost her $6,000. She paid it in full by funding it with Preneed Funeral insurance. She had options to pay it over time, but she preferred to just pay it and be done.

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Fast forward to April 28, 2015: My mom and best friend in the world died, and I was devastated. Everything was done as she wished, and that funeral that had cost her $6,000 15 years prior had ballooned to $11,000. However, because of the inflation protection of the funeral insurance, it didn’t cost me or her estate a dime.
My mom, in her infinite wisdom, had ensured that I — the “love of her life” as she would call me occasionally — would not have a financial burden. She also made sure that the difficult day would be a bit easier. So even though she was gone, she was still “protecting” me. She gave herself peace of mind, she eased the burden from her family, she made her own decisions, and she set money aside in advance.
I promise, you won’t regret this important decision, and your family, who may not agree with you now, will send you a prayer of thanks when that difficult day arrives. Please consider giving your family a last gift of love. Just as my mom did for me.

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Photo credit: iStock

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