The death of a close friend or family member is never easy on children and the funeral represents the most difficult period. This is where children need to interact with others – it represents a need for them to both understand what is going on and behave well, despite whatever strong emotions they may be feeling. As such, here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing a child for such an occasion.
Explaining the concept of death to a child is a difficult topic in and of itself, and that’s probably why many people think it’s actually inappropriate to take kids to a funeral. How can a child understand seeing someone they knew if they aren’t aware of their death? In the youngest of people, this can lead to a lot of confusion. Even a basic understanding of death will help children understand the funeral. It will also give the event purpose and help kids realize its significance, but the talking needs to happen before the funeral.
Explain The Process
Similarly, you should always explain the process of events to a child before they attend. While they might not understand or appreciate every detail, you need to ensure they understand the vital parts, such as lowering caskets or cremating the body (depending on the nature of the funeral in question). This way, they won’t be surprised when such things occur, allowing the procedure to carry on without children interrupting or asking too many questions. The same can also be said for the funeral etiquette and dress code – let children know in advance, so you don’t upset or surprise them with formal clothing on the day itself.
How To Dress A Child
A funeral is one of those occasions where, despite protests, you need to ensure they wear a certain level of formal attire. A young child will likely not understand the need to look smart, so it’s important you take charge of this aspect. The smaller the child is, the less you arguably need to do, as nobody will expect a 2 or 3 year old to arrive in a suit. Still, they should dress in a similar style to adults: formally and with dark colors. For most boys, a white shirt will suffice, although pre-teens and teenagers can also wear a tie or suit. As for girls, a blouse will do, as will black dresses, giving you plenty of options.
The same can also be said for shoes. Children should wear shoes of a decent formality – think along the lines of school shoes as an ideal minimal baseline. Trainers or sports shoes, for instance, will not only look wrong, but plant the wrong idea in a child’s mind. Formal shoes will remind them of school and other periods where they’ve had to behave, enforcing the importance of the events to come. It will also look more respectful, as the child can blend in with the crowd of predominantly adult attendants.
Seating and Placement
Once you’ve explained procedures and dressed the child, where do you sit at the location itself? Unless you’re of the immediate family, it’s better to sit someone near the back or sides, preferably close to the exit. This ensures children aren’t in the way – in case something goes wrong – and you can always take them outside if they become distressed. Depending on their relation to the deceased in question, children may be very upset, or even just curious, so it helps to be near an escape route so as not to disturb proceedings.
As you can see, there are a number of key differences between how children and adults experience how to plan a funeral, so it’s important for parents and other caretakers to step in and take care of children. Funerals can be a tough time but children have a right to understand what’s going on. With these tips, you should be able to prepare any child for a respectful and peaceful funeral.
About The Author: Robert Bruce has a passion for lending his voice towards multiple issues involving the funeral and memorial industry. When he’s not working with Great Lakes Caskets, he enjoys his hobby as a writer.
For many people, photographs are the perfect way to remember an important or an emotional event and this is certainly true when you plan a funeral. However, these occasions are no easy task for the funeral photographer. How do you capture the event tastefully? While this is never an easy task and will likely change with each funeral in question, here are a few important tips for funeral photography to get you started.
Don’t Disturb People
As a photographer, you are simply there to observe, not get in the way. As such, your photographs should not be disruptive of the event, even if it means risking the quality of a shoot. Be happy with the arrangement (such as funeral flowers) as it is and don’t bring additional lighting. Lights will get in people’s eyes, distract them and make them more aware of your presence than focusing on the funeral. Most churches and official buildings will have adequate lighting but, if you think this is an issue, you can check with the person responsible before the event. The same also goes for flash photography, as this is far too disruptive.
On a similar note, you should always plan ahead when photographing funerals. Talk to the close family and visit where the event will take place. This way, you’ll have an idea of the planned procession and where to operate without getting in the way. On a similar note, you should also look into the specific faith and customs of those involved and other funeral etiquette matters such as dressing accordingly. This way, you will blend in respectfully, allowing you to get on with your task. Additionally, speaking with the immediate family or funeral planners will let you know of any additional rituals or rites that they wish to have captured.
All photographers aim to be objective but funerals are a true cause for literal distance. Don’t position your camera close to any caskets or ceremonies themselves – again, you’re just going to get in the way or distract people. It is better to stand to the side or back of the room and use a medium distance lens for any detail needs. This will help you get up close without having to physically interrupt anything. As for any close-ups of the deceased? Well, you shouldn’t do this without express permission from the family (and it’s worth asking beforehand in case this is what they want).
For a funeral, the deceased is obviously the main focus. From a photography point of view, however, this restricts your creativity. Yet, in some cases this is also an advantage, since funerals are traditional, somber affairs. Don’t be too creative with your framing and be sure to film from the back. This way you can angle your camera to capture people suffering from such grief and loss, but you’re not directly capturing their faces or emotions – this is, again, something you shouldn’t do without permission. Remember that the deceased is the main priority here, so the photographs you aim to take should reflect this.
On another note, funerals are live events and you can’t ask people to re-position themselves because you didn’t get the right shot. With that in mind, any photographer attending a funeral needs to be familiar with taking quick shots rather than long set-ups. Set your camera to quick exposure and rapid shutter settings. This way, you can take multiple shots rapidly and, in instances like this, it’s best to simply pick out the better or worthwhile ones after the event.
Adhere to Requests
Some people will not want to be photographed. Others may ask who you are, what you’re going to do with the photographs and if they could be blurred/edited out. These are all reasonable requests at a funeral and, as the photographer, you should adhere to any and all requests. If you can’t? Then don’t do what you were going to do. Your photography should not change the funeral in any way: you should change to meet the funerals needs.
All in all, these are some of the finer tips for funeral photography to consider when taking photographs at a funeral. This is a difficult challenge for even the most seasoned photographer but it’s often an important event to record.
Around the world, every day, every hour, every second, medical treatment is unable to prevent death. When doctors, nurses and hospitals can do no more for a patient, another industry steps in.
World population Estimate – 7,142,797,806
There are bodies everywhere.
World Death Rate: 8 deaths/1,000 population 55.3 million people die each year 151,600 people die each day 6316 people die each hour 105 people die each minute ~2 people die each second
Traditional Western Customs:
The two most common methods for the disposal of corpses are:
• Cremations (Burning the body) or
• Interment (Burying the body)
Today, the average North American traditional funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000.
• Fee for the funeral director’s services: $1,500
• Cost for caskets: $2,300
• Embalming: $500
• Cost for using the funeral home for the actual funeral service: $500
• Cost of a grave site: $1,000
• Cost to dig the grave: $600
• Cost of a grave liners or outer burial vaults: $1,000
• Cost of monuments: $1,500
• Muslims try to bury their dead ASAP.
• Family or community members wash and shroud the body in scented water and clean white cloth.
• The body is positioned so that the head is facing Mecca. The average adult Islamic funeral, before the cost of burial, was $6,550 in 2009, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.
Tibetan Buddhist Sky Burial:
• The traditional Tibetan Sky Burial involves a corpse being dismembered by trained professionals and left outside (in one of the 1075 sky burial sites) for animals to feast upon. Today, 80% of Tibetans choose to have Sky Burials.
• Going “Green?” People are forgoing traditional methods for environmentally friendly burials.
• Why expose the Earth to unnecessary embalming chemicals or steel caskets.
• Opts for biodegradable caskets or having your remains turned into an artificial reef? Factoid: Americans currently bury around one million tons of steel caskets each year.
• Balinese cremation ceremony is performed to send the dead onto their next life, and is considered a sacred duty.
• The dead are placed inside a coffin, which is then placed inside a structure resembling a buffalo or temple.
• The structure is carried to the cremation site and set aflame. In group ceremonies upwards of 60 people’s remains were cremated at one time.
Ghana’s Elaborate Custom Coffins:
• In Ghana it is popular to bury loved ones in coffins that represent certain aspects of them, generally either an occupation, or something they loved.
• For example, a farmer might be buried in a coffin that was built to resemble an ear of corn, or a businessman could be buried in a coffin resembling a plane.
Famadihana – The Turning of the Bones:
• The Malagasy people of Madagascar have a famous ritual in which every five to seven years, the family has a celebration at its ancestral crypt.
• The cloth-wrapped bodies of the deceased are exhumed and sprayed with wine or perfume, before being brought out for family members to dance with while a live band plays.
• Money can buy you anything, even a burial in space.
• The first of these burials took place in 1997 and contained ashes of 22 people (including Timothy Leary and Gene Roddenberry).
• Cost, depending on how far you want your ashes to go, $1,000 – $12,000.
No Longer Practiced
• Originating over 1000 years ago, Sokushinbutsu was practiced by a sect of Buddhist monks, and resulted in self-mummification.
• Process that involved eating nuts, bark, and drinking poisonous tea, and took over 3000 days to complete.
• Though hundreds of monks tried, only 16 – 24 were successful.
• Sokushinbutsu is now illegal in Japan.
• Though now a long lost civilization, The Bo people of the Hemp Pond Valley in Southwest China’s Gongxian County, would use two wooden poles inserted into the rock to suspend caskets containing the dead on high cliff faces.
• Over 160 coffins were placed along the cliffs and natural caves. Today locals refer to the Bo as the “Sons of the Cliffs”.
• Now banned in India, Sati was the practice of recently widowed women throwing themselves on the funeral pyres of their husband’s bodies.
There are few things in life that are certain, but one thing that can be relied upon is that we will all die. Although death is an absolute certainty for every single one of us, society at large still seems to find it difficult to discuss funeral planning, death and dying. Death has always been something of a taboo subject, but even in these relatively enlightened times it is still a topic that causes some to react with disgust, fear or denial.
As a result, to plan a funeral for yourself or a loved one can be tricky at best. It is important that everyone gets the kind of funeral plan that respects their beliefs and wishes. However, if these are not discussed in advance, it is difficult for those left behind to know how the best ways to handle these difficult decisions after a person has died.
Fear of Death and Dying
It’s understandable that, as a species intent on survival, we are reticent about discussing our inevitable demise. Fear of death can encompass a number of things including concerns about grief and loss, worry about pain or suffering, fear of the unknown, and bereavement. There is also the sense that in death, things that an individual values such as family, friends and loved ones will be lost.
Many people have superstitious beliefs concerning death and dying that can hinder their willingness to talk about their end of life plans and preferences – and what should happen after they’re gone. The belief that talking about death is somehow “tempting fate” or will hasten death is common and will cause problems with making clear plans for what should happen after death.
Some deaths are more predictable than others, and those people who are diagnosed with a medical condition with a prognosis of shortened life may be in a better position for terminally ill planning since they have “some” idea of how much life they have left. Still, even those people for whom death is imminent may not wish to talk about it.
Death and Money – The Perfect Storm of Taboos
If there is one topic that draws an equal amount of discomfort for open discussion, it is an individual’s personal financial affairs. In working through a funeral planning checklist, the subjects of money and death are brought together in a clash of two of the strongest taboo subjects for discussion in polite conversation.
According to AARP, today’s average funeral costs can run upwards of $10,000. Clearly this is no small consideration when facing things like funeral estate planning and finding the money to pay for the essentials after a death. In addition to adding the stress of finding this money to the worry about doing the right thing, you also have the drawbacks of not discussing how to plan your funeral with loved ones when the opportunity has always been available. So these drawbacks significantly outweigh the discomfort of talking about things that are often left unsaid.
An Open Conversation About Death
Although it is hard for some people to talk about dying, it is an extremely important conversation to have. Without an understanding of what a person’s wishes are for their end of life funeral arrangements, families can be left in a difficult position of trying to second guess what their loved one would have wanted after their death. Don’t leave it too late to have the conversation.
If you preplan a funeral, it gives you the opportunity to talk about preferences, funeral costs, and the way in which you want to be remembered. This includes even the little details such what you want to say in your obituary, what kind of memorial service you would like, what to put on your monuments or head stone, or even new memorial technology for gravestones.
Getting your funeral plan, preferences, and finances in place early means that both the dying person and the family left behind have the peace of mind to knowing that the right thing was done, and the funeral plan and money are available to ensure the deceased’s wishes are fulfilled.
Death and dying is one of the final taboos for discussion in our society. However, making sure that everyone is clear about what they want in death and their wishes for their funeral can bring peace of mind to all concerned.
According to AARP (www.aarp.org), the average cost of a funeral today is approximately $10,000. So by preplanning a funeral and creating an end of life plan, your are certainly doing a wonderful thing by helping to alleviate many of the funeral planning challenges.
Therefore, over 60% of people who are willing to selflessly take the time to create an End of Life Plan will also choose to prepay their funeral expenses. By taking care of your funeral costs and expenses in advance, this is yet another added value. Prepaying your funeral costs is another way of leaving behind a memory of how much you cared for your family and loved ones, rather than leaving them to deal with these financial challenges.
While you need to learn and understand the three most common ways to preplan a funeral, you should also be familiar with the various ways of prepaying your funeral expenses, since this is one of the fastest growing and widely-accepted aspects of the funeral planning process.
Similar to preplanning your funeral, most financial professionals agree that prepaying your funeral expenses should be a standard topic of discussion when creating a financial plan and estate plan.
The most common and widely used strategies to prepay your funeral expenses are savings, life insurance, and funeral insurance (also referred to as burial insurance), mainly because they tend to be deemed the most reliable and readily available. However, there are several other finance advice strategies to consider when prepaying your funeral costs or expenses:
Although many people choose to set aside savings to pay for their end of life plan and funeral expenses, there are several reasons this does not always end up working out as originally planned. First, the savings can be depleted based on unexpected financial circumstances, such as health or financial issues. Second, these funds are not always readily available and liquid upon death due to the challenges and restrictions often found in estate planning. Third, the funds set aside can often be insufficient due to inflation and the rising cost of funeral expenses. Finally, it should be noted that savings are included in a part of one’s estate, and, thus, the taxable consequences can often come into play.
Term Life Insurance is widely considered to be a flexible, simple, and affordable way to pay for your final funeral expenses. Although Term Life Insurance has a set term, or set number of years, it also has multiple uses in prepaying for your funeral. Because upon your death it becomes a liquid asset that is usually not part of your estate, it can be used for many things such as your funeral or memorial services, burial expenses, cremation, liquidity, and many other things, including debts or obligations.
In addition, there are some types of life insurance that allow the funds contributed to these policies (either in lump sum, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) to grow and accumulate as a cash value that can be accessed if necessary. Therefore, these policies can not only be used for funeral expenses, but also for other financial planning options that may arise such as financial emergencies, and college.
Funeral insurance is an insurance policy which is specifically designed to cover any costs or expenses which are directly related to your funeral. If you purchase one of these policies, one of the options you have is to determine exactly which funeral costs or expenses are to be covered, such as funeral flowers, burial plot, grave marker, and much more. Another option you have is for the policy to be paid out in a single lump-sum, which can be used to cover your pre-determined costs or expenses, or simply help your loved ones financially as they plan for you. There are many insurance companies that offer funeral planning packages, and certain funeral homes or funeral companies also offer funeral insurance policies.
Pre Need Trust Agreements
Another alternative to prepaying your funeral is to consider a Pre Need Trust Agreement to pay for your costs or expenses. Generally speaking, these Trust accounts are typically funded with monthly payments that are invested in a fund which is designed to grow over time. Although a Trust account is designed to provide the potential for protection against inflation, it is not guaranteed to do so.
Although the large majority of the funeral industry will tell you that most funeral costs can range anywhere from $5,000 – $10,000, it is very common for funerals to cost much more or maybe even less.
Also, as with any important financial decision or investment, there are many advantages and disadvantages to each of the options mentioned above. Before choosing a policy, it is important to consider many things, including but not limited to your age, health, financial status, objectives, liquid assets, tax issues, estate tax issues, family needs, etc.
In summary, although nobody likes to think or talk about dying, it is one of the facts of life we all must eventually face. If you are trying to build a successful financial plan, the only way you can be sure your plan works smoothly and efficiently is to be proactive about your planning process. This is particularly true and necessary when creating a proper plan of succession, and everyone should consider including an end of life plan.
Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor before applying or purchasing any of these policies, pay close attention to your specific state requirements, and also the financial strength and claims paying abilities of each company, funeral home, etc.
The final expense cost of regular adult funeral including basic items, can be significant. To give you a quick overview of the funeral costs, we’ve developed a quick chart. Keep in mind, these basic items do not include cemetery costs, cemetery monuments, or grave marker costs – nor any other miscellaneous charges such as for funeral flowers or obituaries.
$1,595 Non-declinable basic services fee
$ 233 Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home
$ 550 Embalming
$ 203 Other preparation of the body
$ 406 Use of facilities/staff for viewing
$ 463 Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony
Today a green funeral is a new trend that is emerging in the death care industry. Green funerals, or environmentally-friendly burials, do without the use of artificial preservation methods and materials that may be harmful to the environment. By using minimalist caskets and grave markers, and natural habitats, this types of burial cost is a fraction of their traditional counterparts. Green burials promote harmony with nature and protect mother earth.
After losing a close loved one back in 2008, I am constantly trying to find ways I can help both families and Funeral Directors find new ways to make the funeral planning process easier. After working closely and researching extensively, I have learned a lot about how to plan a funeral and end of life planning industries.
However, since I am not a licensed Funeral Director, I have also focused on learning how challenging and meaningful of a role a Funeral Directors can play in a families life, and therefore, I have gained a tremendous amount of well-deserved respect and appreciation for a Funeral Director’s selfless contribution to this valued public service.
So given the importance and sensitivity of this matter, I am not only constantly trying to learn more each day, but also searching for any possible new and innovative ways to help add value to this industry.
When I look back on my personal experience, below are some of the key things I truly believe would have helped my family as we worked through the many funeral planning challenges:
1. I believe it would be helpful if the Funeral Director could give a brief history about their Funeral Home, Cemetery, as well as their personal background and experience.
This would help families learn more about choosing a funeral home or cemetery, funeral director, and feel more comfortable about the qualifications, experience, and credibility of who they are dealing with.
2. I think it could be helpful if a Funeral Directors would ask if anyone involved has any history or experience with planning a funeral.
This would help the Funeral Director and the family, since this lets the Funeral Director know if they need to begin slowly, starting with the basics, or whether things could be a little easier and streamlined based on any past experience.
3. Before the Funeral Director begins to review the basic outline of the funeral planning process, it would be helpful if they ask the family if they have any important questions on their mind that they feel like they need to find answers.
This allows the family members to ask about things that might be of concern, time-sensitive, or important to know regardless of the planning process.
4. The Funeral Director could explain the general outline of what the funeral planning process involves and what they will review and work on together. Ideally, this overall outline would be great to have in writing, so they can see it, read it, plan ahead, and follow along step-by-step.
This helps the families to get an idea of what to expect, and also begin thinking about the many funeral planning challenges.
5. The Funeral Director could tell the family members to feel free to interrupt him/her at any time, and ask any questions that come to mind, no matter how basic or uncomfortable they might feel.
This helps families feel like it is OK to ask questions, since from my personal experience, I was very reluctant to ask things that I now wish I had.
6. After the funeral planning process, the Funeral Director could find a way to help families learn about some of the new and popular memorial technology tools, resources, services, and funeral home services. In fact, I would even recommend offering families a printed list of these options so you can talk about them with the families, or simply let them research these things on their own to find out more.
Why not let every family know about all of these options? If families don’t choose to add these to their funeral or memorial planning, they are still better off from knowing these options were available. And if families do find these options to helpful tools that can allow them to better heal, remember, and pay a special tribute to a loved one, everyone wins!
7. Last, I would suggest Funeral Directors consider providing every family with helpful details, such as these below, at the end of their funeral planning discussion:
– Key things to consider when planning a memorial service
– Several phone numbers to contact for any questions or concerns, 24/7
– Grief support information, grief books, and local grief support
– Information on how to give a eulogy, funeral etiquette, how to write an obituary, and other common families needs
– Contact information on Charitable Organizations, and ways to help families donate funds “in lieu of funeral flowers”
– Key reasons and benefits to consider an End of Life Plan, and where they can go to learn more
– Names and contact information for people who you recommend that would be willing to help offer free advice for any financial planning matters, such as funeral estate planning, tax planning, wealth management, etc.
Again, these are just some thoughts I had after looking back on my personal experience, as well as some of the details I have found that most families are searching for – and today this is being done largely on the Internet.
I truly hope this helps both families and Funeral Directors, as I continue my quest to make this difficult process easier!
Losing a child is never easy even when the child is not your own. Children are the hope for the future and should have so much of their life ahead of them. When a child is lost so are the dreams and the hopes of the future. It seems unnatural to be taking care of any end of life arrangements of a child. Because of this, many funeral homes don’t display caskets, burial vaults, or items related to child loss. There is for many a sense of loss of innocence when a child dies. Expectations are cut short, and the deep, unexpected grief and loss of the parents of the child is an additional factor that makes taking care of the child and the family difficult.
Here are some things you might do to take care of yourself while helping a family who has lost a child:
Be Prepared: Mentally prepare yourself that eventually it will be your task to help a family who has lost a child. We tend to push things out of our minds that are extremely unpleasant. Spend some time thinking about what you need to help yourself during this time. It is easier to plan ahead when you are not emotionally involved at the moment.
Be Aware Of Triggers: If you have children be aware that a loss of a child around the age of your children might affect you more. For some it is easy to think that the deceased child could be my child lying on the table. Remind yourself that your child(ren) are healthy and alive. Stop yourself from thinking in terms of the “What If’s”, and realize that your being so affected can help others feel your compassion.
Delve Into Your Spirituality: Even though you work with death every day are you comfortable with what happens to the spirit after a person dies? Do you have a strong faith system? Does it encompass the loss of a child? The more you are secure in your belief system the less rattled you might be at the time of a death of a child. Your stability will be an asset the family of the child can draw upon during the funeral service.
Have Resources Available: The loss of a child tends to bring out the community in force. Make sure to have avenues for people to express their grief. They will rely on you less if they have other places of support. Some items to keep on hand would be:
Online Journal with a guestbook. People can write in the guestbook at your funeral home, from home or school. It is accessible 24/7.
Grief Therapists and others who can help people through the grieving process can be written out and can be placed on tables or given out at the service.
Virtual Candles can be put on your website for families to light at the wake, service or at a later date.
Finally, remember to stick to the basics. Remember to eat complete meals three times a day. Put away the sugar and the chips. Drink lots of water and skip the caffeine and alcohol. Rest as much as you possibly can. Fatigue exacerbates difficult situations so when you can take a quick nap. If a child’s death is still affecting you after a month or two consider talking to a your doctor or seek grief counseling. Even those in the funeral profession need and can consult outside professionals to help them through emotionally trying times.
I would like to ask you to please spend some time reading this personal story of mine. I am FULLY confident that you will find something in this story, some special message, that will make your life better, and end up being worth a few minutes of your time.
When it comes to financial planning, I will spare you the boring details about the importance of having a plan in place for the unexpected, using products and strategies like Umbrealla Policies, Life Insurance, Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning, Disability Insurance, Long-Term Care Insurance. etc.
In the past I might have boasted about how well-versed and experienced I was with helping my clients design and create strategies to protect my clients, and my own family, against the unexpected. But the truth is, my life has been forever changed since I lost my mother on Thanksgiving Day of 2008.
Since nobody in my family had ever really dealt with losing a “close” family member before, we had no idea what to expect. In fact, we didn’t know and we didn’t plan for this outcome in any way, simply because we never once thought about – or talked about = being in that situation.
Once my mother became sick, the thought never crossed our minds to talk about what would happen “afterwards”. Truthfully, in those situations, talking about someone’s death is an unspoken, unlikely, and unacceptable outcome that never crossed your mind. All you can think about, and all you can talk about, is how they are going to be ok. They will make it. Stay strong. You have loving family, friends, and medical support – all of which will help you get through this.
After she passed, I can vividly remember that feeling of being so confused, uncertain, and disappointed. Why? Because I didn’t know what to do next, or who to turn to. I also remember realizing that I didn’t know the any of the details regarding what my mother would have really wanted with regards to her end of life plans and preferences. Why? Because I did not have the courage to ask while she was still alive and healthy. Once she back sick, it was simply never the right time to discuss death or dying.
Even after almost 5 years now, I still don’t feel comfortable talking about it. But what I do feel comfortable talking about is what happened after.
What Happens After a Loved One Passes?
My next memory is, right about the time the enormity of the situation was just starting to sink in, we were sitting in a local Funeral Home, surrounded by various types of caskets and cremation urns, reviewing a two-sided legal page (General Price List) which is filled with countless options on how to plan a funeral – all of which probably add up to well over $200,000.
Now please keep in mind that, at that time, the last thing in the world any of us wanted to talk about or think about was planning a funeral and memorial service, much less having to make decisions regarding any of the financial aspects.
Things I Bet You Never Thought About…
Here is a list of some other funeral planning challenges we faced that. Keep in mind that, like our family, all of these decisions are usually made within a period of a few days, and with little or no education or professional guidance:
How do we determine which Funeral Home, Cemetery, or Funeral Director?
How do we arrange and notify family members and/or loved ones who live out of town? Who contacts who?
How do we determine exactly what type of memorial service is most appropriate? Do you celebrate a life? Do you mourn?
Knowing whether there was a preference to be cremated or buried?
Choosing among many different types of caskets or urns?
Where should the final resting place be for the cremated remains?
How should our plans and preferences work with regards to your religion? Which Church? Which Priest?
Who should be invited, and how do you locate all their names and numbers?
Who will pay for these funeral expenses, and how will this be paid for?
Who will give a eulogy at the memorial service? Who will do a reading?
What is funeral etiquette with regards to dress, time, date, day?
Will there be a gathering after the memorial service? If so, who should be invited?
How do you place an obituary? What should it say? Who should handle this?
Choosing among pictures, funeral music, videos, and much, much more…
It is Time For Change…
They say “everything happens for a reason“. Well, even though I believe there is never a valid “reason” to lose a loved one, I can say that this experience has opened my eyes to a lot of things that have previously gone unnoticed. And as time passes, the one thing in particular that is becoming crystal clear is the fact people and families need to prepare their end of life plans and preferences in advance.
In all my years of financial education and training, I have never once heard someone so much as talk about how to help the families we serve by encouraging them to create an end of life plan.
Well my friends, it is time for change. Maybe losing my mother is the “reason” and inspiration behind my serious movement to help families make a difficult situation easier.
So from this day forward, I will be seeking the help the finest associations, organizations, and people in the funeral and financial planning industries. Along with their help, I am going to be speaking loudly, boldly, and clearly, about the need for change when it comes to financial, retirement, and estate planning. There is a missing piece to the financial puzzle that needs to be fixed, which is helping families Create an End of Life Celebration Plan.
How to Create Your End of Life Celebration Plan…
Below is a link to four guides I have put together that will help you learn more about how to create your End of Life Celebration Plan:
In the financial planning industry, it is very rare that a financial advisor can use the word “guarantee“. And usually the word “guarantee” needs to be accompanied by a prospectus and/or extensive legal disclaimers, documents, and details.
However, when you look at this from a real-life experience like I now can, financial advisors actually have something that we can guarantee every client – which is the fact that some day you will die. Regrettably, this may happen much sooner than anyone could ever imagine or plan. But regardless of the timing, some day your life will end. So begins the two all-important questions…
We All Have Two Choices…
1. Continue to Do Nothing
Do not plan for this guaranteed outcome in any way. After reading this article, you are well aware of the fact that you will be leaving your family behind to unnecessarily suffer through a tremendous amount of difficult emotional and financial decisions, during an extremely difficult time, in addition to coping with their grief and loss over your death.
2. Pre-arrange and/or Pre-Pay Today…
Set aside the time, put in the effort, and create your End of Life Celebration plan that you would want – and that your family deserves. If you are ready to take this step, here are some easy options:
My passion is to take this personal experience, learn from it, and turn it into a positive experience through helping other families make a difficult situation easier. Helping families become more educated, empowered, and most importantly, more prepared. My hope and prayer is that I can make my mother very proud one day. I pray that some day she looks down and sees that her never-ending selfless love and legacy will live forever, and that her death has become an inspiration to help others.
Preplanning is Not Fun or Easy…
Like many of the best things in life, nothing good comes easy. So as you would expect, talking about. thinking about, and planning about death and dying is not fun. However, a legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said;
“The difference between failure and success is largely determined by the
amount of time and preparation put into planning for the future.”
A Gift You Give – and Receive…
After all, what better gift can you leave your family than showing them that you selflessly made time, took that extra step, and sacrificed a small part of your life to show how much you love them. Imagine knowing that one of the last memories you leave behind is that your family knew that you did everything possible to make their lives better. What memory could be better?
After sharing my own personal experience, I hope you can see that this kind of unselfish love actually provides you a huge gift too, and that gift is called peace of mind.
Sometimes I feel as if I am the only person in America who is speaking about one of the most important plans you can create, an End of Life Plan. The harsh reality is that very few individuals, families, or even financial professionals are regularly teaching, practicing, or implementing End of Life Plans.
Nothing Good Comes Easy
Why is that that more than 80% of people in America die without leaving behind their End of Life Plan and preferences? I believe it is because these are the only types of plans that directly addresses death and dying. Therefore, most people would prefer to overlook or ignore this type of conversation. The problem is that, in doing so, you are leaving these matters to your spouse, children, and/or family members – to pile on top of what is already one of the most difficult times of their lives.
The fact of the matter is that an End of Life Plan should be a standard and routine part of a comprehensive financial or retirement plan. Period. It is the missing piece to the financial services puzzle that needs to be fixed.
Fact: Some Day You Will Die
Sure, the last thing any of us want to do is talk or think about is how to plan a funeral. And this is not just “a funeral”, but rather your own personal funeral. So I get it. I fully understand why an End of Life Plan is not such an easy and comfortable discussion. However, some day every single one of us will die (hopefully later versus sooner), but we will die. So this means that “someone” is going to be forced to deal with planning your End of Life Plan and preferences.
So ask yourself this question; “Would you rather take care of your final arrangements yourself, or leave it to your loved ones who are already suffering from the grief and loss of your death compounding insult to injury?”
We all know for a fact, with absolute certainty, that we are all going to die some day, right? So why is it that most people are not talking about this? Why are financial planners not learning the best ways to plan their clients and families for their inevitable death? Why is it that, at the very least, everyone is not taking a few minutes to simply document their End of Life Plans and preferences for our loved ones?
Financial Planners Should Encourage an End of Life Plan
In addition to being the Founder of this website, I have worked as financial planner for over 23 years and currently own my own Wealth Management practice.
I mention this because, for the most part, the financial planning industry overlooks and ignores End of Life Plans, Pre Need Plans, and Final Expense Plans. These plans are not widely-recognized as an all-important additions to a comprehensive financial and retirement plan.
To prove this point, here is a fact: Prior to losing a loved one and experiencing how to plan a funeral myself, I had never heard some talked about this subject. This includes all of my 20+ years of studying, training, attending classes, getting licenses and certifications, and more.
How About You and Your Financial Plan?
Has your financial planner discussed this with you? Does your financial plan include your End of Life Plans and preferences? Are these details documented and written down in a safe place? Do you currently have a plan in place for your pre-arranged funeral or cemetery arrangements? Have you created a plan to specifically designate which monies will prepay funeral expenses and funeral costs? Do the people you love know what you really want? Have you notified them regarding the fact that you have taken care of these End of Life Plan details? Do they know where these plans and details are located?
You are Not Alone
If you do not currently have an End of Life Plan in place, you are not alone. Given my personal experience, I can tell you that losing my mother was, by far, the toughest day of my life. And like our situation, here is what happens in most cases. Just about the time when it starts to “sink in” that your loved one is really gone, and your emotions begin to elevate, all of a sudden you find yourself sitting in a Funeral Home or Cemetery, reviewing all of their funeral home services and planning a funeral. This is probably the last thing anyone wants to be doing during a difficult time like this.
Just Some of the Funeral Planning Challenges
• How do you transport the body? Where do you transport it? How soon?
• What vital statistics do we need to gather, and how soon?
• How soon afterwards should the funeral and/or memorial service be?
• How do you determine which Funeral Home, Cemetery, or Funeral Director?
• What if the deceased lives out of town?
• Sitting down with a Funeral Director to review all the details and options
• Try to figure out what your loved one “would have wanted”
• Making some incredibly difficult financial decisions
• Trying to figure out what type of memorial service your loved one “would have wanted”
• Did they want to be cremation or traditional burial?
• Choosing among many different types of caskets or cremation urns
• Where should the final resting place of their body or ashes be?
• How do you coordinate this with your religion/Church?
• Who should be invited, and how do you invite them?
• Arranging travel and accommodation plans for out-of-town guests
• Who will give the funeral eulogy? How to give a eulogy?
• How will this be paid for? Were there any burial insurance or funeral insurance policies?
• Who will speak at the memorial services? Which songs and prayers do you use?
• Do you have a gathering afterwards?
• How do you place an obituary? Who does this?
• Do you want funeral flowers or donations?
• Arranging funeral programs, sending “thank you” cards, and much more…
End of Life Plans Save Money
Another huge benefit to creating an End of Life Plan is that, in addition to saving your family from going through emotional challenges and making difficult decisions, you could very likely save your family thousands – or even millions – of dollars. The reason why is when someone dies, there are many financial matters that accompany the funeral planning such as funeral estate planning, estate taxes, death taxes, capital gains taxes, income taxes, insurance policy proceeds, investments, real estate, bank accounts, mortgages, other debts, and much more.
Plan Now – Don’t Wait!
A wise man once said, “The difference between failure and success is largely determined by the amount of time and preparation put into preparing for the future.” By creating a solid End of Life Plan – and then adding this as a part of a sound and comprehensive financial plan – nothing could be further from the truth!
The Greatest Gift Your Family Will Always Remember
Live As If There’s No Tomorrow
The truth is nobody likes to talk about death or dying. However, the unfortunate reality is that all of us will be forced to deal with this difficult situation at some point, and often times it happens when we least expect it.
Another harsh reality is that the large majority of financial professionals and families overlook or ignore the importance of incorporating a smart end of life plan as a part of a comprehensive financial plan.
I firmly believe that nobody would ever want their family and loved ones to have to deal with any unnecessary emotional and financial decisions (or costly expenses), during what could arguably be the worst times of their life. However, yet another harsh reality is that over 70% of people who die fail to leave their family and loved ones as much as a basic Will, also called a Last Will and Testament.
Use These 5 Easy Steps:
I’ve put together 5 easy steps that should help every family improve their financial plan, simply by adding these key pieces of a smart end of life plan:
• A budget for the funeral costs that will be involved
• Your preference on a burial or cremation
• The location of your burial, or where you wish your ashes scattered
• Decide if you want a large memorial service or a small one
• Pre-arrange the caskets or cremation urns you like
• Choose officiates and others you want to run or speak at your service
• Pick the funeral music and Video Tribute you wish to have played
• What you would want engraved on your tombstone
3. Create a “love drawer”, which is a central location where you keep all your end of life plans mentioned above. Choose someone to tell, and update it every two years.
• Consider funeral webcasting on the Internet, so everyone possible can “attend”
• Build your own personal DVD Video Tribute, complete with songs and pictures
• Create and design a memorial website, who loved ones can share together online
Benefits to You and Your Family
By taking these steps now and creating your end of life plan in advance, you are sending your family a very strong message – which says that you cared enough to make this difficult time a little easier. Not only with they thank you, but they will remember this selfless gift of love forever!
When I recently lost my mother, the terrible loss was compounded by the need for funeral planning help. Like most families, we had never discussed and quite honestly, we avoided answering the question of; “What do we do next?” Also, similar to most families, we had no idea who to turn to, nor did we have a clue where to begin making our funeral planning arrangements.
Through extensive study, family surveys, and my own personal experience, I now understand what most families are searching for on the Internet, and the questions they need answers to.
Three main reasons families seek funeral planning help:
1. A recent death has occurred
2. A death is expected
3. There is an interest or desire to pre-plan their funeral or cemetery arrangements
Three questions most families need answers to:
1. What should I know?
2. Who can I turn to?
3. Where do I get started?
In such a difficult situation, most families feel vulnerable, uncertain, and quite frankly, uneducated on what to know or ask. It is during times like this where families need the comfort and confidence to know they are working with someone who is looking out for their best interests; someone who is credible and qualified.
With more than 25,000 Funeral Homes, the Internet is loaded with Funeral Home Directories. But most families don’t really want just a name in a Directory. With the advent of the Internet and new funeral and memorial technology, families want quick and easy access to the most qualified funeral professionals, combined with the right tools to help them research all the important surrounding details.
Three reasons funeral planning is overwhelming:
1. They are in a state of shock, disbelief, grief and loss, and more
2. This is usually a process that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable
3. There are many difficult funeral planning and financial decisions to make
Most common questions families need answers to:
Here are just a few of the common questions that arise; What are the burial wishes of the deceased? A traditional burial, cremation, graveside burial, or memorial service? Where do they want their final resting place to be? How, when, and where are these services performed? And by whom? What other funeral home services should we consider? What is the right amount to pay for the funeral costs? And much more.
Another detail families need to consider is the religious preference of the deceased. Planning a Jewish Funeral is completely different than, let’s say, Catholic funeral planning. In Jewish Funerals there is typically no embalming, the funeral service is performed quickly after death, and wooden caskets are preferred. Preparing for a Jewish Funeral can be quite confusing for those trying to adhere to the end of life plan set up deceased.
The list of details goes on and on but, as you can see, there is a tremendous need for families to have access to high-quality information regarding every detail of funeral planning. This includes information about how to locate a Funeral Home or Cemetery, how to preplan a funeral, making emergency funeral arrangements, or even preparing their end of life arrangements in advance.
Families want a centralized place for high-quality and family focused funeral planning help. It is my own personal experience and other families needs that have inspired me to offer a place where families can get all the answers they are searching for. Families can become more confident, educated, and empowered. In doing so, it is my passion and dream to become the most credible and trusted online funeral resource center families are turning to.