America is a nation of planners. Americans plan their vacations, retirement, careers and every hour of every day in some cases. Research shows that 70% of Americans have some type of life insurance policy and 55% die with a written will or estate. Yet only 33% preplan their funerals. Why is formally preplanning a funeral with a funeral director not a part of these important preparations?
Discussing funeral planning is difficult and sensitive, but every year over two million Americans are involved in this task. Unexpectedly and with no experience or knowledge of the process, individuals will be faced with planning a funeral for a loved one in their most difficult of times.
Securing the fulfillment of final wishes and the future well-being of remaining family includes making funeral arrangements. Not only does preplanning a memorial service protect the financial futures of loved ones, just like other end-of-life preparations but, it also helps with the emotional difficulty they will face when the inevitable occurs. Many families have a trusted lawyer, accountant, and financial advisor, etc. that they rely on to address important life and family matters. Many grief experts and others in the death care profession recommend that it is also important to have a reputable funeral professional with whom a family can discuss all memorial options and budgetary concerns in order to be fiscally responsible and prepared. While 95% claim that funeral services are important in honoring life’s end, not nearly as many put the planned consideration behind the planning process.
According to the National Funeral Directors Association, an overwhelming and increasing majority of Americans say a funeral service is important in honoring and celebrating the life of a loved one. Grief counselors say the act of having a funeral service, regardless of choosing cremation, burial or other disposition, is absolutely critical to the grieving process, and that most Americans want some type of funeral service for themselves or a loved one.
There are many choices when it comes to a funeral service. Sitting down with a funeral director and loved ones will help everyone understand the options available and make sound decisions that suit the individual. The average funeral is a major expense for most families, costing anywhere from $6,500 to $9,000. No one wants to be concerned with cost when the time comes or overwhelmed with trying to make the choices that their deceased would have wanted. Pre-planning will prevent loved ones from having to face this great burden and avoid regrets related to the service.
Just like purchasing a life insurance policy or writing a will financial experts agree that everyone upon hitting certain milestones in life should begin the funeral planning process — such events as getting married, having a child or grandchildren, hitting retirement age. These important life celebrations are good reminders that time is precious, as are the people that share in it, and there are certain things that need to be done to protect them and a life well lived. Fear is typically cited as the main reason for not pre-planning, however in many ways it is even less difficult than writing a will and dealing in legal matters that may be completely foreign.
The event of death is obviously a very emotional time and it can be hard to think clearly or, in some cases, make rational decisions. Pre-planning a funeral is simple; it’s free and is a very tangible act that anyone can do to not only take care of their family, but to make things as easy on them as possible when the inevitable occurs. Planning in advance will mitigate overspending or lingering questions about the memorial. Scary as it might be, pre-planning is the best way to ensure a dignified service that is consistent with a loved one’s wishes and supportive to the grieving process.
Beginning the pre-planning process presents several choices to consider, but a good first step is a website called www.FuneralPlan.com where users can download a free pre-planning guide and find reputable funeral homes, among many other resources. Simply making an appointment at a funeral home and sitting down with a funeral director to discuss choices, budgets and final wishes should not be overlooked in planning for a family’s future.
Lacy Robinson is a Kentucky licensed funeral director/embalmer and a certified member of the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice. She is a graduate of Georgetown College, Georgetown, Kentucky holding a bachelor’s degree in Communications. She is also a graduate from Mid-America College of Funeral Service, Jeffersonville, Indiana. As Senior Professional Development Trainer at Aurora, Lacy specializes in helping funeral directors partner with families to create funerals that honor both their basic and personal needs at the time of loss. She presents continuing education programs on both the local, state and national level. Lacy serves on the Advisory Board to the Association of Women Funeral Professionals and is an active member of the Funeral Directors Association of Kentucky. She is a Certified Funeral Celebrant, Certified Wilson Learning Facilitator and member of the Kentucky Speakers Association. For more information, visit www.FuneralPlan.com.
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