Pre-planning your funeral will make certain that your choices are respected and carried out, without leaving your family to wonder what your wishes might have been. You also have the option of paying for your funeral in advance: this locks-in the cost of the funeral at today’s prices.
There are many different ways to begin the planning ahead conversation. You know your family and how your loved ones might best respond to the topic. For some families, it might be a casual conversation over dinner or another family gathering; for other families, a formal meeting might be better suited. Regardless of your approach, the conversation is much easier to have when death is not imminent. Bringing up the subject with loved ones earlier in life when they are younger and most likely healthier, makes the topic easier to discuss and keeps the focus on the celebration of life rather than an impending loss.
Here are some tips that may help you start the advance planning conversation with your loved ones:
- Set a time to have the conversation; schedule it as an appointment with your loved ones, whether you want to share your plancs with them or ask them to make their plans to share with you.
- Tell your parent or loved one that you want to ensure their final arrangements are done according to their wishes and you need their help to make that happen.
- Ease into the conversation. Questions such as “Have you ever thought about where you would like to be buried?” or “What type of funeral would you like to have?” may open the discussion to more details about your loved one’s wishes.
- Take advantage of funeral-related opportunities. Attending the funeral of a friend, family member, or colleague, or watching a move or television show with funeral scenes, may naturally prompt the discussion with your own loved ones. Talk about what you liked or didn’t like about the services you saw or attended.
- Tell your children or loved ones that because you are for them so much, you don’t want to burden them with difficult decisions when you’re gone. Tell them you’ve made your own final arrangements and give them a written record of your plan.
- Make your funeral and cemetery plans and then wrap a copy of your contract and wishes in a gift box and present it to your children for safekeeping and future reference.
- Make it a family affair. Schedule an appointment with your chosen funeral home or cemetery provider and invite your children along to participate in the selection of services, funeral merchandise, and cemetery property.
Whether you’re sharing plans for your own final arrangements with loved ones, or encouraging loved ones to make and share their plans with you, the conversation about planning ahead is an important one that every family should have. While no one wants to think about their death or the death of a loved one any sooner than they must, having the conversation in advance alleviates the need for potentially more unpleasant or difficult conversations in the future.
This article originally appeared in Dallas Jewish Monthly.