Preplanning after a loss: How do you want to be remembered?
After losing a loved one, it's natural to start wondering, 'How do I want to be remembered?' Preplanning can help you record your answers.
By Melissa Willets
When you lose a loved one, you learn firsthand how emotionally painful and financially burdensome planning a funeral is for those left behind. The process leaves you wondering how to make it easier for your family when you’re gone and how to share your wishes. You can accomplish both objectives by preplanning your funeral.
Our step-by-step guides, How to plan a funeral and 4 steps to preplanning a funeral, will get you started on the right path. But if you’d like a way to easily map out your preferences and fund them, you may want to consider a Preneed Funeral insurance plan. A Preneed plan allows you to decide every detail you want included in your funeral service and set up a payment method to cover your funeral expenses. You simply attend a preplanning appointment with a funeral home partner, who walks you through each step. The funeral home partner totals the costs, and that amount is the basis for your Preneed insurance plan. Upon your death, the funds are used to pay the funeral home for your funeral.
To prepare for the preplanning appointment, read our list of questions to ask at your preplanning appointment and consider the ideas below as you decide how you want to be remembered.
Express what’s uniquely you
You’ve made your special mark in this world, so why not have a funeral that is as unique as you are? Your Preneed agent will walk you through the first basic decisions, like burial or cremation, but then he or she will ask questions to help you decide what kind of service you want and what tone you want it to convey.
- Do you want a traditional funeral service or a celebration of life?
- Do you want the gathering to feel festive or somber?
- Do you want to feature poems or songs that hold special meaning?
- Do you want someone to give a formal eulogy or have everyone casually share stories?
As you think about how to plan a funeral that feels like you, don’t be afraid to incorporate your personality, key achievements, and values that truly reflect your life. Some ideas include:
Highlighting your military service
If you served in the military, you may want your funeral to honor your service to your country. Active service members and veterans are eligible for military funeral honors. If you wish, you can also be buried in a veterans’ national cemetery at no charge and receive a free grave marker denoting your service.
If protecting the environment is an important initiative for you, you can preplan a green funeral. It lessens your ecological footprint by featuring a natural burial, which includes formaldehyde-free, non-toxic embalming products or no embalming process at all. The body is wrapped in a cloth or bamboo shroud and placed in a biodegradable casket or directly into the ground.
Featuring your religious beliefs
If your religion is center in your life, you can provide guidelines for your clergy to lead mourners through a service that honors your faith, complete with prayers and hymns of your choosing.
Showing your free spirit
If a traditional funeral service is too formulated for you, you can plan a celebration of life instead. And if you really want your loved ones to do more smiling than mourning, you can follow one of the latest funeral planning trends and preplan a funeral party — complete with an open bar and disc jockey, if you like.
Displaying your hobby
If a large number of happy moments in your life are spent pursuing a hobby, why not reflect it in your funeral service? You can include simple additions, such as showcasing a collection, or plan something more elaborate. For instance, if you love Disney, you can ask mourners to dress as their favorite characters and listen to your favorite movie soundtracks as they say goodbye.
Sharing your love of technology
If you’ve always enjoyed pursuing the latest, greatest tech devices, you can add merging funeral planning technology to your preplanning document. You have options for during the funeral and after. Your tech-savvy funeral can be broadcasted online for relatives who live too far away to attend. You can request an interactive headstone that links to a memorial website that features video and audio content honoring your life.
Keeping it intimate
If you’re a very private person, the thought of a public funeral may set you on edge. If you prefer to preplan a quiet, family-oriented event, you may want to consider a funeral in your home. Home funerals have been gaining popularity in recent years. They allow your loved ones to host a family-directed funeral and to say goodbye privately. Some states have special laws regarding home funerals, so you’ll want to research and include your state’s regulations in your preplanning document.
Following the trends
If you’ve spent most of your life keeping up with the latest trends, you may want to continue doing so after you’re gone. Some of the most unique funeral planning trends focus on spreading or preserving ashes. Some ideas to include in your preplanning document are:
- A memorial reef: Cremains are affixed to or mixed into a man-made reef at the bottom of the ocean to become a natural habitat for marine life.
- Ashes in the atmosphere: The company, Mesoloft, uses a balloon to launch cremains to the edge of space, where they’re released into the atmosphere.
- Pressing remains into a vinyl record: The recording supports 12 minutes of customizable audio per side.
- Gun ammunition: The ashes are mixed in gun powder and placed inside bullets. Usually, the bullets are then shot in a final salute.
If you’d like to learn how Great Western Insurance Company’s Preneed Funeral insurance can help you fund your end-of-life plans, contact the Preneed regional manager in your state to connect you with a funeral home partner.
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Photo credit: iStock