Have you ever lost a loved one? I was 11 or 12 when I lost my great grandfather and I remember it was my very first funeral to go to. Since then, I have gone to several other funerals and missed a fair share too.
My mother’s death in September of 2010, was very hard on me because I lost my mother and friend. My mom struggled with a horrible disease called Pick’s Disease. Pick’s disease is a rare form of Alzheimer’s that attacks the frontal lobe of the brain. Her funeral was bittersweet, I felt that it was the end of her suffering and that she could finally be free of the awful disease. It robbed her of precious time with her grand children. Plus, my mom was very young when she passed away and the thought of dying at an early age kinda scares me.
I realize that death is a difficult subject to talk about and if you are like me you often push it away so that you forget about it. Today, I wanted to share some tips on how to prepare for your own funeral arrangements so that your family members don’t have to worry about planning a funeral while they are grieving.
Draft a Living Will
If you haven’t already drafted a living will, it is a good idea to get one drafted as soon as possible. It is a legally binding setting of instructions for dictating your medical care in the event that you can not make the decisions yourself. By doing a bit of planning, you will relieve your family of the stress of making important decisions about your care for you and it will keep you from suffering unnecessary pain. Many people put this task off for when they are older but you never know if something could happen to you. I am guilty of putting off this task too. Here is a list of things that you need to include in your living will:
- Resuscitation (CPR)
- Mechanical Breathing (Breathing Machine)
- Tube Feeding
- Antibiotics, Antivirals, or Other Medications
- Comfort Care (Hospice or Palliative Care)
- Organ or Tissue Donation
- Donating Your Body (for research)
- DNR Order (do not resuscitate)
- DNI Order (do not intubate)
Always keep your living will updated as you get new medical diagnosis or have a terminal illness, if you get married or divorced, or if you change your mind on any thing that you had previously written. Once you have your written will, always keep the documents in a safe place. You should also give a copy to your doctor
Appoint a Power of Attorney
When you are drafting a will, you will also need to designate and appoint a power of attorney. You will name a person or several people who are responsible to make decisions for you on your behalf. The person may be a spouse, family member, or another trusted person. You are also allowed to choose a few alternates in case the person designated is unable to fulfill their duties.
Buy a Burial Plot in Advance
Before you decide to buy a burial plot, it is important that you contact several different cemeteries before you commit to purchasing a burial plot. The cost of different plots may vary depending on the location, number of spots left in the cemetery, and the type of plot that you want. Always make sure that the plot that you choose meets your list of needs and wants. A little bit of advance planning takes the guess work out of where you would like to be buried. Don’t forget to consider family traditions too! After determining where you want to be buried, meet with the funeral director at the funeral home of your choice so that you can have a conference to discuss your options.
Pick a Reputable Funeral Home
Once you have figured out where you want to be buried at, you will have to find a reputable funeral home to help conduct the funeral services and take care of the final arrangements. Remember it is best to call several funeral homes to get an idea of how much their services cost. Most people don’t know that they are required by law to give you a quote or show you a list of prices before they show you any of their products. You can request the prices over the phone or in person. Some funeral homes will even send you a price list but they aren’t required to. A funeral home might have package deals or even prepaid options for you to choose from but regardless they have to show you their price break down.
Use Caution When Considering a Prepaid Funeral Plan
Prepaid funeral plans may sound to good to be true and you should do your research before committing to buy a prepaid plan. My dad went ahead and purchased a prepaid plan for my mother’s funeral and it worked out to his advantage. However, there is a ton of fine print involved and I highly suggest that you read it carefully before making a commitment.
Here is a list of questions that you will want to ask the funeral home before you make a purchase:
- You want to make sure that you can get your money back if you change your mind
- make sure that it covers the cost of increases in the future
- what services and items are you actually purchasing
- are you protected in case the funeral home goes out of business or changes owners
- how does the funeral home use the interest on your funds
- what happens if you move out of the area and want to be buried there instead
- how does the funeral home protect your investment.
Each state has their own set of laws that govern prepaid accounts and it is wise to seek legal counsel before you decide on purchasing a prepaid funeral plan. If you do purchase a prepaid plan, you need to make sure that you keep the documents in a safe place and that they are easily accessible by family members.
How Much Money Should I Allocate for Funeral Services?
When figuring out our own funeral costs, it is important that you put enough in your budget to cover everything so that your family isn’t left to pick up the tab if it goes over your budget. You will need to include the following items: pay the funeral home for its services, burial plot (if you haven’t already prepaid for it), casket, grave stone, flowers, clothes for the deceased to wear, hair and make up for females, embalming of the body, pastor and musicians for the service, cars for transportation to and from the grave site, obituary for newspaper, fees to open and close burial plot, death certificate, urn (if you want to be cremated), cremation costs (if needed), memorial cards for the service, funeral programs (if desired), guest book, consider a donation to the chapel or church, and any additional things that you may want specifically for your own funeral.
Guide to Choosing a Headstone for Your Grave Site
Before you select a headstone, you need to contact the cemetery to determine if they have any specific requirements or restrictions on what type of headstone that you can have placed on your grave site. Even if you prepay for a headstone, it typically isn’t delivered until several months after the deceased has been buried. There are several different types of materials that a headstone can be purchased in: marble, granite, and bronze. People usually include the deceased full name, date of birth, date of death, and choose a design that is an important aspect of their life or interests. You can also choose from a variety of designs for gravestones such as angels, doves, candle, cross, lillies, or palms praying. Many people often purchase a companion burial plot and headstone to help reduce costs. If you do purchase a headstone for both you and your spouse, they can come back later to add your spouses date of death. Don’t forget to opt for gravestone insurance to ensure that if it is damaged accidentally or by vandalism. Typically, your homeowner’s policy will cover the cost to insure your gravestone but contact your insurance company for policy details.
Unfortunately, death is a difficult subject for many people to talk about. Most people put off making any funeral plans for their own funeral. However, if you are a parent it is important that you plan for the unexpected. Do make sure that you also put in your living will who you want to take care of your child in case something happens to you and your spouse.
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